This recipe was an experiment on a dull day last week. ‘Second Lockdown’ had just begun in England, the US election was causing some unsettling background anxiety and I’d just had two fairly sizeable bad pieces of news (this is 2020 after all, nothing is allowed to go right is it?!).
I’d foraged a bag of sweet chestnuts from our local trees a week or so ago, but hadn’t got round to doing anything with them and the little buggers had started sprouting everywhere and I thought: shit.
So in an attempt to salvage my day by doing something ‘productive’ and tricking my brain in to making some dopamine, I decided to boil them before the chestnuts got any ideas. (I did actually separate out the ones that had sprouted and me and the youngest child planted them in the garden!)
I’d tried roasting chestnuts the year before but found them a bit tricky to peel, so I thought boiling them might result in easier peeling. I was wrong. Peeling them was a complete ball-ache and it turned out to be much easier to just sort of squeeze the cooked chestnut out of the opening instead, but what was I going to do with the bowl of mush I now had?!
Well, chocolate makes everything better, and I thought if hazelnuts go well in chocolate spread then feasibly chestnuts could do that too, right? But I needed something sweet to balance the bitterness of the cocoa powder and I didn’t have much agave syrup left so I dug this bottle of Chai coffee syrup out of the back of the cupboard. It was a year out of date (having been put there when I started going sugar free) but I decided that wasn’t going to stop me eating it!
I added in a little oil to loosen it up a bit and it was absolutely delightful. Amazing on toast. The family annihilated the whole bowl of it within 24 hours! If you cheat and use a packet of sweet chestnuts (which I highly recommend) then the recipe only takes about 5 minutes to make!
Keen to replicate the success of this without the boiling and peeling and using out of date syrup, I refined the recipe in to the acceptable form below! And now I’m sharing it with you because I’m lovely like that and everyone needs to have slightly strange chocolate-y pick-me-up recipes up their sleeves for when they accidentally have almost-sentient chestnuts on their dining table, or just because it’s 2020 and everything is a bit shit.
As usual this recipe is gluten free, dairy free, vegan, sugar free (if you’re not using out of date coffee syrup you found in your cupboard!) and soy free too. So it’s a great allergy-friendly spread and alternative to hazelnut or peanut based spreads such as Nutella. Chestnuts are a good source of Vitamin C too!
You can use any liquid sweetener you like, we usually use agave syrup, I’ve also tried using Sweet Freedom Choc Shot in chocolate orange flavour and that was delish! You could also use a couple of drops of flavour essence, such as sweet orange, peppermint or vanilla. Or if you’re okay with a bit of sugar then you could use coffee syrups like the forest fruit Monin one and make a spread with black forest gateau vibes! Okay I’m drooling thinking about that one..
Chocolate Chestnut Spread (dairy free, gluten free, vegan, soy free, sugar free) Makes 1 Small Jar:
- 1 packet of sweet chestnuts, either puree or whole (or whatever you’ve stolen from the squirrels in the woods, cooked and peeled – the chestnuts that is, not the squirrels)
- cocoa powder to taste
- agave syrup to taste
- (optional) – a mild liquid oil, I use the cold-pressed rapeseed oil from Aldi, just a splash if the mixture isn’t ‘spreadable’ enough for your liking.
Mash your chestnuts with a fork and then add the other ingredients and stir lots until it’s smooth. If you have a food processor then you can use that, but I just used a fork! Depends how smooth you want it. If it’s a little too stiff add a splash of oil to loosen it up.
Store in a sterilised jar in the fridge. Honestly not sure how long it would last as it always gets eaten within a day or two! Not tried freezing it either, but if you have a go please leave a comment to let me know how it went.
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