chocolate chestnuts longan

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chocolate chestnuts longanWe created this dish with chestnuts grown in the valley. Using chestnut-shaped silicone molds, we create faux chestnuts that sit atop a roasted chocolate crumble with the texture of a brownie crust.

  • Yield: 6 Servings


  • 1 kilogram | about 2 pounds, 3 ounces milk chocolate pistoles (40 percent cacao)
  • 500 grams | 2 ¼ cups longan pulp
  • 200 grams | 1 cup sugar
  • 40 grams | 3 tablespoons pectin NH
  • 775 grams | 3 ¼ cups silicone A
  • 775 grams | 3 ¼ cups silicone B
  • 24 | chestnuts in the shell
How to Make It
  1. FOR THE ROASTED MILK CHOCOLATE: Preheat the oven to 280°F (140°C). Arrange the chocolate pieces in an even layer in a baking pan. Roast for 1 hour, until the chocolate darkens slightly and has a very strong roasted odor. Let cool at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before using.
  2. FOR THE LONGAN JAM: Put the longan pulp in a blender and mix on high speed for about 30 seconds, until liquefied. Transfer to a saucepan and warm over low heat. Stir together the sugar and pectin in a small bowl. Add to the warm longan pulp, whisk to disperse the pectin mixture evenly, and increase the heat to high. Bring the mixture to a boil, and cook for 15 seconds, until the jam begins to thicken, then transfer to a heatproof container and let cool in the refrigerator. Transfer the jam to a squeeze bottle and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  3. FOR THE CHESTNUT MOLDS: Place the silicone A and silicone B in a disposable pail and stir with a wooden stick to combine. Using a strong, instant-bond glue, secure the chestnuts onto a sheet of acetate, spacing them about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) apart. Place a sturdy metal frame around the edge of the acetate sheet, surrounding the chestnuts. Pour the silicone mixture in a thin ribbon (to avoid air bubbles) into the frame, submerging the chestnuts completely. Let stand for 6 hours, until set. Lift off the frame with the 24 chestnut molds and discard the chestnuts.
  4. FOR THE CHESTNUT PREPARATION: Combine the chestnut paste, cocoa powder, sugar, and 400 grams (1 ⅔ cups) of the water in a blender and mix on low speed for 15 seconds, until well incorporated. Meanwhile, melt the silver gelatin in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat, add to the blender, and increase the speed to high. Once the puree is smooth, slowly add the cocoa butter to emulsify. Strain through a chinois into a bowl, then transfer to a squeeze bottle. While the mixture is still warm, fill the chestnut molds and tap out the excess, creating a shell in each mold. Freeze for at least 30 minutes to freeze the shells completely.
  5. Put the roasted chocolate in a blender. Combine the bronze gelatin, 50 grams (¼ cup) of water, dextrose, glucose, and cream in a small saucepan over low heat and stir to melt the gelatin. Using a whisk, disperse the agar into the liquid, increase the heat to high, and bring to a full boil. Remove from the heat, pour over the chocolate in the blender, and mix on high speed for 30 seconds to emulsify. Strain through a chinois into a bowl and let cool to just warm (about 120°F/49°C). Transfer to a squeeze bottle and fill the shell-lined molds. Return the molds to the freezer for at least 2 hours, until fully frozen.
  6. FOR THE DEHYDRATED CHOCOLATE: Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over gently simmering water. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, mix the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar and continue mixing until medium peaks form. Combine the melted chocolate and egg yolks in a blender and mix on high speed until a smooth puree forms. Transfer to a bowl and gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate just until combined. Line a dehydrator tray with an acetate sheet. Transfer the chocolate mixture to the acetate and spread in an even layer ¼ inch (6 millimeters) thick. Dehydrate at 140°F (60°C) for at least 12 hours, until dry and crispy.
  7. Break up the dehydrated chocolate, put in a food processor, and mix until a coarse powder forms. Store in an airtight container with silica gel packets at room temperature.
  8. FOR THE CARAMELIZED CHESTNUT PUREE: Prepare an ice bath. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sugar all at once and stir constantly to prevent scorching. Once the sugar begins to turn amber, add the butter and continue stirring. Once the butter has melted, add the chestnut paste and stir to incorporate. Boil for 1 minute, until very fragrant. Transfer to a blender and mix on high speed until a smooth puree forms. Strain through a chinois into a bowl, then nest the bowl in the ice bath to cool the puree. Transfer to a squeeze bottle and hold at room temperature.
  9. FOR THE SWEETENED BUTTERMILK: Prepare an ice bath. Combine the buttermilk, sugar, and gellan base in a blender. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes, until smooth. Do not mix longer or you risk overheating the mixture. Strain though a chinois into a bowl, then nest the bowl in the ice bath and stir to cool the puree. Season with kosher salt and transfer to a squeeze bottle.
  10. TO SERVE: Unmold the frozen chestnuts, transfer to an airtight container, and thaw for 1 hour before serving. Dip the chestnuts in the ground dehydrated chocolate and arrange 4 chestnuts on each of 6 plates, varying the size and shape of the nuts on each plate. Place a few dots of the longan jam, chestnut puree, and sweetened buttermilk in the center of each plate. Place a pair of longan halves on each plate and scatter some of the dehydrated chocolate around the chestnuts as a garnish. Finish with a grating of raw chestnut over each serving.

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