Friday, November 9, 2012

Chestnut Mousse with Persimmon Sauce--Dessert in no Time

Last year, when I shared a recipe based on chestnuts, it was a savory dish--cornish hens with chestnut stuffing. The chestnut season is upon us and I decided to experiment with chestnuts again. For this purpose, I bought several bags of the organic shelled and roasted chestnuts to make a dessert based on chestnuts.

I was inspired by the Italian cuisine and my Italian cookbooks where chestnuts appear often as a main ingredient of many desserts: cakes, creams, and mousses. I chose a chestnut mousse, a very simple dessert that can be prepared in no time. I was full of doubts how it would turn out after my chocolate and chestnut cake disappointment a few years ago. This time, I was pleasantly surprised.

I liked the taste of the mousse very much--it was delicate but chestnuts gave it a kind of earthy flavor. And the whole dessert was not too sweet. I also added a tablespoon of the hazelnut liqueur, which made it taste even more "earthy and nutty".

But I needed something extra to finish the whole dessert and create a nice presentation. I chose the persimmon sauce. Persimmons, like chestnuts, are typical fruits of the season. It was a good combination, since the delicate persimmons did not overshadow the taste of the chestnuts. Overall, chestnut mousse, although somewhat unusual, seemed interesting enough and very in season to be a Thanksgiving dinner dessert.

Chestnut Mousse with Persimmon Sauce
(Serves six)

1 cup (7 oz) of roasted and shelled chestnuts, or a full cup of raw chestnuts,
1/4 cup of sugar,
1 tbsp of hazelnut (Frangelico) or walnut liqueur,
1 cup heavy whipping cream,
3 persimmons,
a pinch of cinnamon (optional),
juice from half a lime,
mint leaves to decorate.

1. If you use raw chestnuts, blanch them in boiling water for 5 minutes then drain and peel off. Put the peeled chestnuts in a small pot of boiling water and simmer for about 30 minutes. Drain them and chop. If you use cooked or roasted chestnuts just chopped them roughly.

2. Put sugar in a small pot, add two tbsp of water and bring to boil. Boil briefly stirring until sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat. Add to the pot chopped chestnuts and using a hand blender make purée. Let it cool down.
3. Add hazelnut liqueur and cinnamon, if you like. Mix well.
4. Pour heavy whipping cream into a medium bowl and beat until stiff. Add chestnuts purée in two batches gently folding in. Chill the mousse in a refrigerator for half an hour.

5. Meanwhile, peel off persimmons and remove the hard parts around the stem.

6. Cut two persimmons in small pieces, add lime juice and, using a hand blender, make a smooth sauce. Cut the third persimmon into slices and use for decoration before serving.
7. Remove the chestnut mousse from the refrigerator. Dip a soup spoon in a hot water, get a spoon of mousse and place two spoons on each serving plate. Drizzle with persimmon sauce, decorate with persimmon slices and mint, and serve.

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