Many chestnut recipes seem to either include chocolate or are incorporated into a cake batter. Since my husband loves chestnuts but is not fond of chocolate, I was looking for something different. I decided to make a chestnut custard instead. I used a classic French tart shell dough and topped it with a meringue. Italian meringue is the most stable of all meringues and lasts well for a few days in the fridge. You can also use whipped cream instead of the meringue but I find the combination too heavy since chestnuts are quite starchy.
We usually have sweetened chestnut puree in the house because my husband loves it on toast in the morning. I found one that comes from France with a minimum of ingredients, it has a very pure flavour.
Vanilla Shortcrust dough
makes 1 9″ 0r 9 1/2″ tart shell, or 6 3″small tart shells
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 oz. butter
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
Food processor method: Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times. Add the cold butter in cubes and pulse a few more times.
Mix the egg yolk with the vanilla extract and add to the dough. Process until the dough begins to form small lumps.
If the dough is still cool to the touch, roll the dough out to fit your tart pan. Otherwise, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Press into the greased pan, fill with pie weights and bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely.
3/4 cup sweetened chestnut puree
1/2 cup whipping cream
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp cornstarch
Whisk the egg yolks in a saucepan. Add the cornstarch and whisk until smooth. Add the cream in small amounts while whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Add the chestnut puree and whisk until smooth.
Cook the custard over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Pour into cooled tart shell(s) and let cool completely.
3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp vanilla sugar or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Bring sugar and water to a boil. The temperature should reach 235 degrees (the soft ball stage).
Meanwhile, beat the whites until foamy, add the cream of tartar and keep beating until peaks form.
While beating, pour the hot syrup in a slow and steady stream into the egg whites. Keep beating until the mixture cools down and becomes thick and glossy, about 3 minutes. Spread right away over the chestnut puree.
Use a blow torch to brown the top, or bake the tart for 7-10 minutes in a preheated oven at 350 degrees.