Monday, December 02, 2013

Marrons Glacés 101

I can't say I loved marrons glacés at the 1st bite. They take a bit of getting used to if you didn't grow up eating them every Noël as the French do.
Though I've always loved the plain old roasted chestnut - one of the best things about winter as far as I'm concerned along with the holidays and Bergdorf's windows.
The best place to learn about marron glacé is in Georges' candy classroom at Le Bonbon au Palais. In France marrons come from the Ardeche in the south. i'd been waiting anxiously for their arrival at LBAP and last week enfin...voila!
They are picked much like olives by shaking the branches so the nuts fall into netting on the ground. By the way, If you live in France you can watch a whole host of educational programs on FR2 on your iPad. There's plenty of rubbish too like US daytime soaps, all of it will help your French enormement, "je te promis!"
Le Bonbon au Palais carries two kinds of marron glacé and natch Georges says his are the best. Certainment le prix will not make you run from the shop tearing out your hair. And you can buy just one at a time. Many shops insist you buy a whole box at some outrageous price so this is a real plus.
These are called, 'bouche rouge' I suppose because of their dark color. They should look glossy and the sugar should not have cyrstalized.
There are also the marrons from Turin, Italy.
Why are all the best foods like caramels, butterscotch and marrons burnt sienna color?
The inside should have a lovely syropy look to it. These babies can take up to 36 hours to soak up the sugar and vanilla in copper pots/au chaudron. Plus they are quite fragile and must be wrapped individually in gauze before soaking or they will fall apart, hence their high prices.
If they weigh 20 ounces or more they are referred to as 'chaitaigne'. Under 20 ounces they are marrons.
These are 'Brissures' from Naples. Litterally broken bites you can buy for much less but of excellent quality and perfect to garnish ice cream or use in cakes.
I found professor Rachel Hope Cleves just surfing the net and was impressed with her post on Cream Puffs Through the Ages. Who better to share my chocolate Salon bounty of marron glacé for a tasting?
Rachel is in Paris on sabbatical with her family for a year, so she brought to the tasting table another 5 marrons plus very astute 9-year old Maia, 11-year old Eli and her husband Tim, a terrific cook.
We were all novices in the marron arena and we may have bitten off more than we could chew attempting to get FIVE bites out of each one...hmm. Still it forced us to slooow down, taste and think about what we were tasting. No gobbling allowed. We checked for aroma, mouth feel, texture and came up with descriptions like: creamy, granular, chestnuty(?), too surgary, plump and so on.
Altogether it was great fun
And we recorded copious notes.
Professor Rachel has the most legible notes. Mine are hopeless.
Eli's notes have yet to be deciphered...
I'm still a big fan of the plain old roasted chestnuts you buy outside of Galeries Laffayette..
And for a mere 2€
For 4€ you can get the same chestnuts and get trampled by crowds at the Champs-Elysees Christmas marché. One way or the other do try a marron glacé this holiday season. You will be delighted.
Je te promis!


  1. Foodwalker10:14 AM

    I'm already a fan but love the background info.
    Most helpful.
    Merci annie

  2. Perhaps I could raid the chestnut tree at our History museum and try glacee- ing them? On second thought, I'll skip the incarceration and look for some by mail order!

    1. This looks like an easy recipe;;;it is in French but so what!

  3. I just love maron glace and have been searching for the chocolate covered ones since I had once a few years ago from Pierre Herme--they haven't made them since.

    1. Pierre Herme has them again this year in a box of assorted marrons.

  4. françois1:46 PM

    When i was a tennager, my summer holidays was under the Ardèche chestnut tree. Les marrons chauds ou glacés are my "madeleine de Proust".
    Have tou try to make a cake with chesnut flour ?
    Trop bon !

    1. What do you suggest?
      I like the chunks too inside of something or a soup of roasted chesnuts...

    2. François4:47 AM

      Sorry for my bad english.
      i found some link in french or english

      merci pour votre blog

    3. French is fine
      BRAVO et big Merci François!!!

  5. An acquired taste is my judgement, One is all I can manage. Now put a chocolatiers box of chocolates in front of me and I'm in heaven. Always some to taste after a Christmas celebration meal at my French friends home.

  6. Reading your account makes me hungry for marrons glacées all over again. I am finding that this acquired taste keeps acquiring more strength. Glad we have another month to enjoy them before January brings us a new seasonal treat.

  7. I love plain old roasted ones..with clemetines on the side :-)
    I learn so much here..

  8. LOVE marrons! So tasty and perfect in the winter!! Mmmmmmm....


  9. Oh Carol, you've excelled yourself today! What a brilliant post. So informative and interesting. I was very keen to try marron glace last trip. I bought some from Henri Le Roux, but they weren't quite marron glade, they stop one step earlier, I can't remember what they said they were called. Anyway, I was distraught to find that I didn't really like it. I'm willing to give it a go again next time though, as I'm more than happy to push through it.

    1. I had those too and I forget what they are called...not so hot unfortunately...

  10. I know that you are a big fan of chestnuts, but I've never had one!
    Your close ups are terrific & I love the night time exteriors - the lighting, the expressions.......

  11. Love it when you take us to the candy classroom. My youngest daughter is so crazy about chestnuts in all forms that she put it on her Christmas list this year. I find marrons glacés too sweet on the teeth but I can tell you I get serious brownie points from my French mother-in-law if I arrive with a good box of them for Noël. Great photos, Carol!

  12. Another great post Carol, thank you. So love marrons glacés. Last Christmas I made Mont Blancs for the first time, with a few flecks of gold leaf to add to the festive mood. Lovely!

  13. Sorry Carol, the bit shortening might not have worked. Here's the link

    1. A Mont Blanc is a dessert from chestnuts but not a candty per say

  14. I don't think I've ever had chestnuts -- roasted or otherwise! Seeing this post makes me fell I've been really missing something!

  15. Bonjour ma chère amie,

    Un petit billet qui me ravit aujourd'hui encore ! et plus particulièrement avec ces marrons glacés !... Je ne vais pas dire qu'on en mettait déjà dans mon biberon mais presque !
    J'ai vécu à l'orée de l'Ardèche et les marrons sous toutes ses formes, je connais et je les cuisine toujours avec autant de plaisir.
    Bien évidemment ma grand-mère m'a appris à faire les marrons glacés qui aujourd'hui régalent l'un de mes fils avec bonheur. S'il y a des brisures, je les utilise pour confectionner ma glace à la châtaigne.
    Je fais ma propre crème de châtaigne que j'emploie par la suite aussi pour faire diverses pâtisseries.
    Il n'y a que la farine de châtaigne que j'achète pour faire du pain, des crêpes et pâtisseries. Excellente façon de me faire oublier que je suis allergique au gluten !
    Et les marrons chauds n'est-ce pas une folie douce lorsqu'il fait froid dehors pour se réchauffer ?
    Essayez aussi de les mettre dans du lait chaud ! hummm!! ma grand-mère m'en préparait lorsque je rentrais de l'école.
    Dimanche dernier j'en ai fait griller dans la cheminée dans une poêle trouée... et pas plus tard que hier, j'ai confectionné un gâteau à la crème de marron au rhum brun...
    Je vous invite à la dégustation ! Oh! Permettez-moi que je te tutoie ou tu permets que je te vouvoie ? Je préférerais le "tu" !...

    Gros bisous et merci pour cette excellente publication.

  16. Anonymous2:33 AM

    Carol, I always love your posts, but I swear they are getting better and better!!! Love this one. And, I love seeing the photo of the holiday lights in that last photo! Carolyn

  17. Longer and longer me thinks ;((

  18. a wonderful lesson and (looks like a) delicious treat ... someday. Merci.

    I'm from Montana (no chestnut trees that I know of) but visited a Brigittine monastary (the only one in the world) near Amity, Oregon, a couple of weeks ago, and there were horse chestnuts - non-edible - everywhere. I was told I could have as many as I wanted and so now, after a drying out period, the chestnuts, clove-studded clementines and sprigs of rosemary (another Oregon treasure) surround my advent candles. I love serendipitous moments, and gathering the chestnuts was one such delight.

    Joyeux Noel.

  19. I just love this post. Marrons glacé are to me what madeleines were to Proust (did I just put myself in the same category as Proust?). I linked to this post on my blog today. Thank you for the pictures. I wonder if there is away for us to make those...sigh...

  20. Recipe link in #3 comment
    Not supposed to be so hard in fact and vere tempting

  21. Best marrons glaces are made in Turkey.You may find them on


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