Chestnut and Cranberry Ring
If you make this now, it will last in the freezer for at least a month, so it's a great pudding to get ahead with, or to serve at a party.
If you can only get the sweetened chestnut puree, then leave out the icing sugar.
80ml / 3 floz dark rum
75g / 3 oz dried cranberries, or other dried fruit eg mixed peel, sultanas, or mixed dried fruit
75g / 3 oz icing sugar
425g / 14 oz tin unsweetened chestnut puree
4 small meringue nests
150g / 6 oz pot of custard (they look like small yoghurt pots)
284ml / 10 fl oz double cream
1. Soak the dried cranberries in the rum at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
2. Beat the cream until soft peaks form.
3. In another bowl, beat together the chestnut puree and icing sugar. Beat in the custard. Finally, add the cranberry and rum mix, and mix well in.
4. Fold the chestnut and cranberry mixture into the cream using a large metal spoon.
5. Use your fingers to crumble in the meringue nests, and fold these into the mixture.
6. Spoon into a ring mould, and freeze for at least 3 hours, but preferably over night. I find it easier to turn out if I brush a little vegetable oil inside the ring mould first.
7. Remove the ring from the freezer at least 30 minutes before you wish to serve it, and keep it in the fridge (or else it will be too solid to serve).
It will then be ready to turn out and decorate with whipped cream, fruit or maron glace (glaced chestnuts). It will last in the fridge for an hour or so until you are ready to serve it.
If you are having difficulty turning it out, dip the bottom of the ring mould into a washing-up bowl of hot water for a couple of seconds first.
How to cook chestnuts and what to buy
1. Before cooking, chestnuts must be peeled and skinned. It is almost impossible to do this successfully when they are completely raw, so first par-cook them by roasting them in the oven for 5 minutes or so (nick the shells with a sharp knife first, or they will explode), or by bringing them to the boil in a pan of water. Remove the shells and the inner pale brown skin (which you can rub off with a tea towel) while they are still hot. If you leave them to cool to much it will be impossible to peel them.
2. Alternatively, you can buy them dried and skinned, in which case they should be soaked over night before cooking.
3. The best chestnuts to use in cooking are the whole 'sous vide' chestnuts (this is the French for the vacuum packed, whole, variety, sold in the supermarkets). They either come just in the vacuum packs, or packed into small boxes. You can also buy them whole and in tins.
4. Chestnut puree is sold in tins, and comes either sweetened or unsweetened, so be careful which you buy.
Reproduced by kind permission of Gilly Brookes