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Chestnut Liqueur


hamcolvin
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I am trying my hand at liqueur making. So far I have made a lovely orange liqueur but I am questing for other recipes.

Two years ago we were in southeastern France and found two great liqueurs that are difficult to impossible to find in the states. I know that these are traditional to the region and many families make their own. They are walnut liqueur and chestnut liqueur. The world wide web is failing me bucause I have yet to find what I am looking for.

I have found a recipe for the walnut liqueur but it is the wrong season to make that because it requires young green walnuts. I have also found a recipe for the Italian version of the chestnut liqueur. I have tried the commercially produced Italian version and it was much sweeter than the French one. (I have included the recipe for the Italian version below.) Does anyone have some advice? Thanks!

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

4 1/2 pounds (2 k) marroni

18 ounces (500 g) sugar

1 quart (1 liter) water

1/2 quart (500 ml) rum, cognac or brandy

2 bay leaves

4 cloves

Preparation:

Carefully peel off the outer skins of the chestnuts, without nicking the inner skins, and set them in a large pot of cold water, with the bay leaf and the cloves. When you are finished peeling bring the pot to a slow boil and cook the chestnuts 25 minutes. Carefully remove the chestnuts with a slotted spoon and set them on a plate to cool. When they have almost completely cooled use a thin bladed knife to remove the inner skins, being careful because the chestnuts will be crumbly.

Combine the sugar and the water in a broad pot, bring it to a boil, and skim the froth that rises to the surface. After 8 minutes add the chestnuts to the syrup and let them simmer without stirring them for 5 more minutes, over a very low flame.

Let everything cool and then carefully remove the chestnuts with a slotted spoon, layering them in an elegant, wide-mouthed jar. Return the pot to the fire and bring the syrup back to a boil. Skim off the froth several times, add the liquor, stir, and let it cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled gently pour it over the chestnuts. If there's not enough liquid to cover them add more alcohol to cover, without stirring. Seal the jar with a lid, and set it in a cool dark place for 2 weeks or more.

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It looks like a reasonable recipe, if a little bit fussy about the chestnut prep. When it is done, if you think it is too sweet, you can always add more liquor.

Thank you. I figure that even if it is not exactly what I remember...it will probably not be too bad either. I let you know in a few months how it went.

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Search for "recette liqueur châtaigne" and piles of sites will come up on Google. Chestnuts are sometimes "marrons" and other times "châtaignes." I have no idea why this is, but French Wikipedia says it has to do with varietal type, size and flavor.

Could you please try to describe the flavor of the chestnut liqueur? My parents have several trees and I am always on the lookout for new ideas.

Edited to say, there's a quick and easy way to peel the little suckers. Cut them in half and put the cut side down on a plate. Microwave for a minute, pull the plate out, wait a few seconds, and the meat inside will shrink away from the shell and that annoying as heck inner skin. If any stick, they go in again with the next batch. They will be a little bit cooked, but still at a state where you can do all sorts of things with them from roasting in a pan with butter to tossing in soup.

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I have a small chestnut orchard. 6-7 years ago I developed a gluten free beer using chestnuts that had been dried whole, shelled, chipped and then roasted to different degrees, Must of the product goes to home brewers that are gluten intolerant and can't fing a good GF beer. I also sell to some breweries that make a chestnut flavored beer for the holidays. In 2007 I developed a chestnut liqueur using the same chips but a different vat fermentation process, using a special wine yeast, to obtain 19% abv and balanced with 18% brix. It has a full bodied nutty, fruity taste with chocolate overtones. People who have sampled it say it will stand up to anything made in Europe. As far as I can tell there is no commercial production in US. Three years ago our state allowed the licensing of smaller craft distilleries. There are thirty in operation at this time and more on line. They produce some products from corn whiskies to fine brandies. One of these distillies is in the process of getting set up to produce this chestnut liqueur, hopfully before the end of this year. I'll keep you posted of progress.

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