Chestnut flour is a great ingredient to have in your pantry; it can be used in a variety of dishes, both sweet and savoury, and its characteristic deep nut flavour adds a little richness to everything from cakes, cookies and crepes to stews and soups. It is also gluten free, so it is a good choice for those who are looking to eat gluten-free without sacrificing flavour.
Even if you’re not necessarily concerned about gluten, cooking with chestnut flour, adding a little to the flour in your favourite recipes is a delicious way to mix things up a bit and add a little depth to your next batch of cookies or chocolate cake. Of course if you are looking for tall, fluffy baked goods you will want to mix the chestnut flour with wheat flour too.
Chestnut flour is simply ground, dried chestnuts. You can make it at home by roasting chestnuts, peeling them, and putting them back in a low oven for an hour or so until they are totally dried out. Let them cool then grind in your food processor until a flour-like powder is achieved. Do not over-process or you may end up with something bordering on chestnut paste.
Blini are crepes made with gluten-free buckwheat flour, and chestnut flour also makes great crepes known as necci, the traditional Italian snack that hails from Tuscany. This is a super easy recipe that you may find habit forming, as they are nutty and rich tasting, but light and gluten-free, and perfectly adaptable for a sweet or savory presentation. Here they are served with ricotta and chestnut honey.
Necci (chestnut flour crepes)
1 cup chestnut flour
1 1/4 cups milk
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup chestnut honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
Whisk flour, eggs and milk until smooth and set aside for about ten minutes. In another bowl mix ricotta and half the honey.
Heat an eight inch pan over medium heat and add olive oil to coat pan.. Pour about 2 tablespoons crepe batter into the pan swirl around gently until the pan is evenly coated. Cook for about a minute then gently turn over crepe and cook the other side. edges, about 1 minute. Turn and cook until opposite side is cooked through. Remove crepe and place on a warm plate. Repeat, piling crepes on top of each other. Serve warm, with a little of the ricotta filling folded into each crepe. Drizzle with a little of the remaining honey.
To serve, place two tablespoons of the ricotta mixture in the center of each crepe. Fold in half and drizzle with remaining honey; serve warm.