There are few things more Christmassy than chestnuts! So read on for recipes for yummy sweet chestnut cookies and an alternative vegetarian Christmas dinner nut roast!
As I had a few packets of ready-cooked chestnuts in the cupboard I wanted to try out some Christmassy recipes using them! I love sweet chestnuts, they do taste slightly nutty but have a much softer consistency and sweeter taste than a lot other nuts. You can eat them straightaway as they are, once they're cooked and taste delicious by themselves, you can roast your own chestnuts in an oven or even on an open fire if you want to be really traditional! Just slit a cross in the top of each chestnut using a sharp knife and place on a baking tray and roast for half an hour or until the flesh inside the chestnuts are soft. Then peel them and leave to cool to use for the following recipes.
*Please note sweet chestnuts are not the same as chestnuts that come from a horse chestnut tree i.e. conkers which come from the Aesculus hippocastanum tree and are not edible (but do have lots of fantastic medicinal effects however!). Whereas sweet chestnuts are from the Castanea sativa tree and are cultivated and safe to be eaten and are the ones I am using today.
Chestnut, Cacao & Cinnamon Christmas Cookies
I had the idea I could make some cookies using sweet chestnuts and went to my first port of call, Pinterest of course! But couldn't find any I wanted, I wanted to try and make them a bit healthier and mostly sugar-free so using what other ingredients I already had and winging it a bit I came up with this recipe! I'm quite impressed with how they turned out they are lovely and soft, with a slight crisp on the outside. They're one of the cookie-come-cake sort of bake rather than a biscuit that snaps but still perfect with a cup of tea! (My tea pictured above is a mulled wine loose tea blend from Whittard which is really yummy!) I do wish I had added some dark chocolate chips for some extra indulgence and gooeyness when straight out of the oven, but I had none in so had to make do without for this batch!
- a 200 g packet of chestnuts/1 cup
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp cacao powder
- 2 tbsp sweet freedom fruit syrup (pure maple syrup would be better but I had none in!)
- 1 tsp blackstrap molasses
- 1/2 cup of coconut oil, melted
- Splash of milk (any will work! Stick to a plant milk to keep this vegan)
- icing sugar and ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top
1// First blend the oats in a food processor for a minute or so until smooth and set aside in a separate bowl. Then process the chestnuts until just broken down, doesn't have to super smooth like a flour.
2// Add all the ingredients into the food processor except the milk and blend until fully combined. With the processor still running on the slowest setting, feed a splash of milk into the top a bit at a time until the dough all comes together and starts to form one ball of dough.
3// Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven at 180 C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Take out the dough and take golf ball size pieces and roll between palms and slightly flatten when placing onto the baking tray. Space out each cookie evenly and bake for 12-15 minutes.
4// Leave to cool in the baking tray for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. Once cool sift over some cinnamon sugar (mix 1 tsp icing sugar with a dash of ground cinnamon) and enjoy!
Veggie Christmas Dinner: Butternut Squash & Chestnut Loaf
As a vegetarian people always ask me what I eat for Christmas dinner instead of turkey! Although it is more than enough food with all the vegetables, roast potatoes and stuffing galore not to mention all the mince pies and chocolates consumed before and after! So there will be no pigs in blankets or turkey for me, but I do usually have a veggie alternative, I love nut roasts and tarts and Pinterest did help me out this time as I found the perfect recipe that was super easy to make and it makes quite a few portions too so I can share the vegetarian goodness on Christmas Day (or just have more for myself)!
I followed this recipe here, from thinlyspread.co.uk, which looks a lot more impressive as a beautiful wreath shape, but alas if you are like me and only have a standard loaf tin it definitely still tastes amazing! I will be serving mine up with honey-roasted parsnips and carrots, lots of mashed and roasted potatoes, greens, stuffing and gravy! Can't wait!
My name is Helen Davison and I'm a NIMH registered practising Medical Herbalist based in Ramsbottom, Lancashire. I've had a keen interest in herbal remedies since my early teens and would experiment creating my own balms and bath bombs using natural ingredients, which prompted me in discovering and pursuing a career in Western Herbal Medicine.