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Marron Glace

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Should you, somehow, get tired of hot, roasted chestnuts during the autumn season, maybe once in a while try a marron glace instead. These delectable and unbelievably sweet treats, shown above, are being made and sold at Jolly Bar in these days, and they are another example of a primarily Piemontese use of the season's abundance of castagne. Of course, like many things in this northern region of Italy so close to France, the origins of this dessert is disputed between the two countries. Sometimes even the Swiss claim that they invented them. What's undisputed though is the recipe, which has remained unchanged for more than 300 years.

Marron, by the way, are a specific type of chestnut. It's a little larger, and in addition, the membrane surrounding the nut is easier to remove. These factors make the marron more ideally suited for these candies, but certainly normal chestnuts are used as well.

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Most marron glace are still produced the old fashioned way, just cooking and drying by hand.

Most marron glace are still made by hand, but even when automated, making the candies is a long process, expensive to do and requiring several days of cooking and drying. While cooking, the chestnuts will absorb their weight in sugar syrup, becoming supersaturated. They are then dried, during which time the chestnuts become crystallized, making them chewy, and incredibly sweet. Italians sometimes then use these candies for other recipes. They can be chopped into tiny bits and used as a topping for cakes or gelato, or folded directly into a pound cake along with chocolate pieces. But first... try the original. It's a way to have your chestnuts, and eat dessert too!

Pasticceria Jolly Bar is on Via P. Tomaso, 17. We've mentioned it here before as a nice spot for a sit-down cappuccino, rather than the hit-and-run variety.

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