I. How can I preserve the taste of my “Marrons Glacés” ?
To keep your “Marrons Glacés” fresh and tasty, it is recommended you store them in a cool and dry place, ideally in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator (4 to 6 degrees C). For optimal taste, place the “marrons” at room temperature half-an-hour before enjoying.
II. “Chataigne” chestnut or “marron” chestnut ?
”Chataigne” chestnuts or sweet chestnuts, just like the “marron” are “castanea sativa” and come from the same tree, the chestnut tree.
The “chataigne” chestnut holds two nuts in its burr (its prickly shell), separated by a piece of skin.
“Marron” chestnuts are used to describe the finest variety of “Castanea Sativa”. They are distinctive because of their good size, regular oval and smooth shape and mellow fine flesh. Their burr only holds one nut. This single-nut fruit is the one used for candied chestnuts.
These “marron” chestnut varieties are trees yielding less than 12% of fruit with two nuts per burr.
“Marron” chestnuts should not be confused with horse chestnuts, an ornamental tree found in school yards and whose fruit, also called “chestnut” or “marron”, is inedible.
III. Are chestnuts a healthy food ?
Few people know that chestnuts are fat-free!
Chestnuts are composed of complex carbohydrates, protein and B vitamins. They are as rich in vitamin C as lemons! Chestnuts are also naturally full of minerals such as magnesium, potassium and iron. All these elements combine to make chestnuts a great food source to help fight fatigue and stress in the midst of winter.
IV. How can I make the right choice ?
Whether you are looking to satisfy your craving with one single treat or are looking to share this moment of pleasure, choosing authentic “Marrons Glacés” is essential to your enjoyment.
Here is a checklist to ensure you are choosing a high-quality product:
- Check ingredients and look specifically for “Bourbon vanilla beans”. Any mention of vanilla flavour, vanilla extract, distilled vanilla or vanillin is an indication that these are not high-quality “Marrons Glacés”. Also, in the case of chestnuts in syrup, make sure there is a vanilla bean in each jar.
- Check the colour: “marrons” in a dark syrup will taste of caramel. A dark syrup is often an indication of mass, industrial processing.
- Find out about cooking and candying methods: traditional processes feature the use of tulle muslin, to avoid excessive absorption of candying syrup and preserve the full flavour of the fruit.
- A mellow and syrupy core is the distinctive feature of a high-quality “marron glacé”.
V. What drinks should I serve with my “Marrons Glacés” ?
The enjoyment of “Marrons Glacés” is an art. To honor this exceptional moment choosing the right time and the right drink is essential. We suggest you serve this delicacy with hot tea or coffee after lunch.
- Darjeeling tea complements the delicate flavours of your marrons.
- The sweet and mellow taste of Columbian arabica coffee does not overwhelm the flavour of “marrons glacés”.
To enjoy your “Marrons Glacés” in the evening you can also match their delicate flavour with a glass of champagne, whisky or quality cognac.
VI. How was the recipe for “Marron Glacé” invented?
It is said that Roman legions brought back the fruit from Asia Minor to France.
In the Middle-Ages the chestnut tree was called ‘Bread Tree’ or ‘Life Tree” as it can be a providential replacement for cereals in the event of famine. It is a source of firewood, timber, leather tannin and of course food as the chestnuts are eaten as fruit, or dried, or used as flour. Legend has it that Charlemagne would eat roasted chestnuts with his wine.
In the 17th century, Sir Pierre François de Varenne gives an indication on the origin of the recipe in his book «The Parfaict Confiturier» (the Perfect Confectioneer) on recipes called «glazed chestnuts» and «dried chesnuts» that he would prepare for the court of Louis XIV in Versailles. He had prepared the first candied chestnut by warming dried chesnuts (used for flour) in the fireplace with sweetened water.
Until the 19th century, “Marrons Glacés” were considered a luxury confection only made for the French elite on special occasions.
During the 20th century, the production of candied chestnuts developed, thanks to a few Master Confectioners who specialized in the production of this unique glazed delicacy. One of these confectioners is G.B. RAFFETO, from a famous line of confectioners, still active in New York City,… and uncle of d’André CORSIGLIA who emigrated to the United States to learn the trade that has now been perpetuated in the family through five generations.