Nutritional information for fresh chestnuts
Schmidt's Chestnut-Chocolate Mousse
Cut the chestnuts in half from pointed top to rough bottom. Place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes. The outer shell should pop right off and the brown inner pellicles slide right off while the nuts are still hot. If the nuts start to cool and stick through them back in the water for a minute. If the shells and pellicle are being difficult they are either too cool or not cooked long enough to release.
In a medium saucepan combine the peeled chestnuts, the sugar, water and vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer over medium heat cooking until very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove 8 of the larger halves for garnish. Transfer the remaining chestnuts to colander and rain collecting the cooking syrup. Transfer the chestnuts to a food processor and purée until smooth adding cooking syrup as necessary to achieve a mousse like consistency. Remove to a glass bowl, cover with plastic and reserve at room temperature. Reserve the chestnut halves in sugar syrup under refrigeration.
To make the mousse: In the top half of double boiler combine the chocolate and the butter heating until melted. Stir in the chestnut purée until smooth. Transfer to larger bow. In a medium size bowl whip the cream until just foaming, about 20 to 25 strokes. Fold half of the cream into the chocolate-chestnut base until homogenous. Add the remaining cream and brandy folding until smooth. Spoon into martini glasses, cover with plastic and chill over night in your refrigerator.
To serve: Place a candied chestnut half on the top of the mousse. Sprinkle with chocolate curls, confectioners sugar and garnish with the sprig of mint. Serve.
Cook's note: Italian Chestnut knives are available from Williams Sonoma. The chestnut pans are available from Bridge Kitchenware in New York City.
Chef Jimmy Schmidt