Pancake Day is at last mere days away. On February 28th, it’s finally time to grab a whisk the moment you come home from work and whip up a batch of battery goodness. I’ve had some pretty killer pancake ideas in my time (I think my favourite will always be last years marzipancakes) but this year, I decided to take inspiration from my recent trip to Dieppe, France.
In Dieppe, there was an outdoor crepe stall almost every few paces. They were made fresh outside restaurants, cafes and dessert joints, and creme de marrons was on every menu. Creme de marron (which I, of course, had to use Google Translate to decipher when I first saw it) means chestnut paste. This, it turns out, is incredibly easy to make.
Vacuum packed cooked chestnuts (I had a packet in the house leftover from Christmas) are boiled gently with sugar, water and vanilla for about half an hour. The chestnuts go into a blender with a little of the syrup at a time until you reach a consistency you’re happy to spread onto your pancakes. The result is a gorgeous sweet crepe, and something that you’re probably not going to find on your average dessert menu in England, which I can’t help but find incredibly exciting.
If you’re a lemon and sugar person through and through, I’ll forgive you. It’s a classic combo. But if you’re looking for a change this year, look no further. One final thing to always remember on Shrove Tuesday: unless you’re an absolute pro, your first pancake will almost always be a bit shit. Push through, your last one will be masterchef-level.
100g plain flour
2 large eggs
1 tbsp sunflower oil
180g cooked whole chestnuts (I use Merchant Gourmet)
150 sugar (granulated is best)
1 teaspoon vanilla
- Make the batter first to allow for resting time: whisk all the ingredients up in a bowl until lovely and smooth. Set aside for thirty minutes while you make the chestnut puree.
- In a saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water with the chestnuts and vanilla, and simmer for about thirty minutes. Put the chestnuts in a blender or food processor with a little of the syrup (add a little at a time) and blend until you have your desired consistency.
- Make the pancakes by heating just a whisper of oil in a non stick frying pan and ladling in batter. You know the drill with pancakes. Flip if you dare.
- Spread about a tablespoon of your chestnuts onto each crepe, fold, and enjoy.
P.S – you’re gonna have some chestnut syrup leftover and it’s going to taste excellent in your coffee. You can thank me later.