Sweet chestnuts

12 December 2006
Sweet chestnuts

Like Brussels sprouts and turkey, chestnuts belong on a Christmas menu. So we've asked pâtissier William Curley to share some seasonal takes on this often overlooked ingredient. Joanna Wood reports

Put chestnuts and Christmas together and British culinary tradition dictates a savoury outcome, but the French have always opted for going down the pâtisserie route with marrons (sweet chestnuts), often purée-ing the nuts and matching them with chocolate. Just think of classic pâtisserie such as mont blanc and bûche de Noël (Christmas log), both of which provide seasonal alternatives for customers sick of mince pies and plum pudding.

You don't have to stick with ultra-traditional takes on chestnuts, either; just utilise classical pâtisserie techniques in new ways, as award-winning pâtissier-chocolatier William Curley demonstrates with his chestnut custard tart recipe on these pages.

Curley also shares his recipes for chestnut-based truffles and a classic teacake alongside his skilful versions of a bûche and mont blanc.

Chestnut custard tart >>

Chestnut and praline truffles >>

Manjari chestnut log >>

Mont blanc >>

Chestnut and rum cake >>

William Curley

Richmond-based chocolatier William Curley and his wife, Suzue, opened the doors of their p‰tisserie business in 2004. After two years spent gaining a deserved reputation for the quality of their p‰tisserie they received peer recognition for their skills in the second Academy of Chocolate awards last September, winning a clutch of gold and silver medals for their hand-made chocolates.

It's not surprising that they have impressed their industry colleagues as both have enviable CVs. She worked at the Savoy and Claridge's as well as Lehman Brothers in the City of London. His CV includes two-year spells with Pierre Koffmann, Marco Pierre White and Raymond Blanc, and a four-month scholarship with Marc Meneau in France, plus a stint working in Belgium for Pierre Romeyer at the three-Michelin-starred Maison de Bouche.

William Curley Pâttisier Chocolatier, 10 Paved Court, Richmond upon Thames, Surrey. Tel: 020 8332 3002. Website: www.williamcurley.com

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