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C is for crème de marrons

For one lovely, happy year a few years ago, I lived in Paris. I was studying at the time, and the city became then, and remains now, one of my favourite places in the world.

It was there where I discovered crème de marrons. Don't be fooled by the name - there's no cream in crème de marrons, it's just a paste of mushed-up chestnuts and a lot of sugar, sometimes vanilla too. It's thick and sweet, and most often turns up sandwiched up in crepes, but you also find it on toast and in desserts.

While I was big fan of crème de marrons during my French soujourn, once I moved back to London, I don't remember ever eating it again. Big mistake.

So, when I saw a tin of vanilla crème de marrons in a south London supermarket, I decided it was time to find out what I had been missing all these years. Does crème de marrons still taste good when it's cooked on the other side of the Channel?

In order to find out, I dug out a recipe I'd been meaning to try for ages from Veganomicon for Jelly Donut Cupcakes, only swapping out the jelly (or jam, as it is on this side of the pond) for a generous spoon of crème de marrons.

Here's the result:

Nice, huh? The batter was a great, thick one, and the crème de marrons didn't sink much, sitting proudly on the top. The end result bore more resemblance to an Aussie friand than an American donut, but still tasted great.

But I felt a hankering for something a bit more French. What would they do with a bit of chestnut puree? A mousse, of course!

Chocolate chestnut mousse
Serves 2

150g firm silken tofu
50g dark chocolate
50g crème de marrons
Vanilla extract to taste
Tiny pinch of salt

How you do it
Break the chocolate into small chunks and put over a bain marie (double boiler) to melt.

Put everything else into a bowl or jug and use a stick blender to blend until smooth.

When the chocolate is melted, pour it into the rest of the mix and blend again.

Put the mix into ramekins or dishes. 

Eat immediately, or chill for a bit (either you or the mousse) and then eat!

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  1. I love creme de marrons. Strange how you just don't hear of them or see them used much over here. What about a vegan petit mont-blanc next? Must be the month for french, we just made cassoulet!

  2. I love creme de marrons. Last time I bought it was in a tube from the Algerian Tea and Coffee Stores in Soho and I just ended up putting it on toast. The chocolate mousse idea is ace!

  3. It's so awesome that you're doing letters of the alphabet for Vegan Mofo! If I ever get off my butt and participate I might just borrow this idea :)

  4. I'm sorry to say I've never been to Paris ans have never tasted crème de marrons. The sight of your mousse seems like a good reason to search out some crème de marrons!

  5. genius idea with the chestnut cream filled cupcakes, and chestnut chocolate mousse looks delish too...I bet it would make a yummy filling for a chocolate yule log!
    I seem to have accumulated several tins of creme de marrons so I'm sure these recipes will come in handy. This one's been on my radar for an age too http://www.peasoupeats.com/2011/01/05/mont-blanc-cheesecake/

  6. This is a new one for me! I've never heard of creme de marrons and don't recall ever eating chestnuts either but I did grow up in a nut-free environment due to allergies in the family. Both of your dishes look delish!

  7. Jealous of your year in Paris, jealous of these creme de marrons. I will have to bookmark the recipe!

  8. Ooh yummo, we sell chestnut puree and our fave thing to do is whip it up with cream at Xmas time (now with non vegan cream, of course!) I am deffo going to try this recipe!

  9. The mousse looks incredible! I must have missed creme de marons when I was in Paris!

  10. You lived in Paris? Coolio! Chesnuts are going to be coming into season right away, and I've never really eaten them, so I can't even really imagine them in a sweet or savory context, but these treats look beautiful.

  11. That looks great! I like the sound of it in a mousse! The first time I tried creme de marrons was when I made crepes with French friends a few years ago (which was such a success, I made vegan crepes and they actually thought they tasted as good as the non-vegan version they were used to!) and they pulled this chestnut puree out of the cupboard. I didn't think I'd enjoy it (chestnuts just didn't sound appealing on a crepe!) but it was lovely!

  12. Both of those look delicious, I spotted the link to this post from Kittee's blog and I'll definitely be picking up a tin next time I see it.

  13. I've never heard of creme de marons, but I may have to track some down--the mousse looks fantastic!


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