My love of marrons glacés (candied chestnuts) began when I was working in a university hospital, and a student returning from studying in Paris brought back a large box of them. I was smitten! Several years later I was gifted 3 kilos of them from a confectionery in Geneva for Christmas. These were on another (higher) level than my first bite. I looked up prices; they were horrendous, so I decided that I should try to make them myself. The boxes we get in delis here are (to be diplomatic) crap.
These are absolutely the most difficult things I have ever made. After buying the nuts, you have to pick through them to eliminate the wormy ones, which results in you throwing away a whole bunch. Then you have to heat them in water to loosen the shells and inner skins and peel them (a tough job); you throw away more. Then you have to cook them in water, under boiling point; if the water boils, they break up. Then you have to soak the nuts in sugar syrup for 24 hours, after which they go into a more concentrated syrup for another 24 hours. This is repeated for 3 more days, after which you glaze them.
I understand why they are so expensive.
In his book, “Entertaining in the French Style”, the late French chef Roger Vergé said that one thing he loved to do was pop a marron glacé into his mouth with a piece of dark chocolate and a swig of Cognac, and then chew it all together. I tried it a few times; Heavenly!
I have pictures of a batch I made a few years ago.
I made marron glace a few years ago out of some vacuum packed chestnuts I bought in an Italian store. i wound up with a huge large jar - there was a certain amount of crumbling with this approach, but it kept forever in the back of the frig and was wonderful over icecream nesselrode, etc. The recipe I used was in Better than Storebought by Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie which addresses both fresh and high quality dried chestnuts.
Thanks for sharing. Never attempted marrons glacés it at home. I like candied fruits more, especially citrus, used mostly in baking. That too, need labourious effect, which is not unlike the candied chestnuts. They cost a fortune too, I now find a tip to buy the less beautiful ones from pastry shops that are targeted for bakers.