The first chestnut harvest in Italy begins in November. Nonna Maria, my Italian neighbor, introduced me to using chestnuts in stuffings, side dishes, and desserts. This not-too-sweet chestnut puree is a pleasant counter-balance to the heavy, rich foods of the winter. When I eat it from a martini glass, I imagine spoon-feeding it to a lover by a fireplace on a cold winter night.
2 (7.4 ounces) jars roasted chestnuts
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
1 teaspoon rum flavoring
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup very cold heavy cream
Pulse the chestnuts in a food processor until a puree is formed.
In a saucepan over low heat, warm the milk, 1 cup of sugar, rum flavoring, butter, and vanilla extract. Stir the mixture until it is warm and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Place the chestnuts and milk mixture into a mixing bowl and stir until blended. Spoon the puree into martini glasses, or other glass single-serving dishes, such as ramekins. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill.
Make ahead: The dessert can be made to this point one day ahead and refrigerated overnight.
Place the mixing bowl and wire beaters you will use to whip the cream into the refrigerator to chill. The whipped cream can be made with a hand or stand mixer, or a bowl and wire whisk.
Using the chilled bowl and beaters or whisk, beat the heavy cream with 1 teaspoon of sugar until it will hold its shape when lifting the beaters out of the cream. Spoon whipped cream onto the top of the dishes of chestnut puree, to create a snow-capped look. (Whipped cream is always fun by a fireplace!)