How exciting to find chestnuts at the Main Street Farmer's Market! The Chattanooga Chestnut Tree Project is lead by UTC agriculture researchers who are working to restore the American Chestnut to the lower Appalachian region, while also supporting farmers who are looking for improved cultivars to grow in local chestnut orchards. These local beauties inspired a delicious afternoon snack or light dessert when paired with this season's apple harvest. You can use the chestnut puree as a dip for freshly sliced apples, or dress it up as a baked dessert. Either way, they pair well as a tasty seasonal treat.
Chestnut Puree: 1 lb fresh chestnuts 1-2 teaspoons local honey 1 1/2 cups milk, cream or coconut milk Juice from 1/2 lemon Freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/8 of a nut) Dash of ground ginger Dash of cloves Pinch of salt
Cut the chestnuts in half across the widest part and place in a saucepan. Cover with water and boil for about 20 minutes. The skins should slip off or peel easily. Once the skins are removed, place the chestnuts in a blender or food processor, along with the other ingredients. Puree until smooth. Adjust spices, honey or lemon to taste.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the apples (peel if desired) and place in a lightly oiled or buttered glass baking dish. Bake until tender (about 15-20 minutes). Serve warm with chestnut puree, drizzled honey and a sprinkle of cocoa nibs (can be found at Greenlife or Earth Fare).