Thursday, December 26, 2013

lavender glazed candied chestnuts

Christmas morning and often before I love to include panettone on the menu. It is Italy's Christmas cake and is delightful. The key ingredients to making this cake unique are fiori di Sicilia, which is an extract of special flowers, and candied chestnuts. The best panettone I have ever tasted is the one Williams-Sonoma sells. The challenge is to duplicate it and make it with gluten free flour. I have never found candied chestnuts available for sale so I set out to make them myself, a good kitchen challenge. And as long as I was making them I decided to add one more flavor: lavender. I took roasted chestnuts and simmered them in a concentrated simple syrup (2 parts sugar to one part water) with a whole vanilla bean. Then I added the lavender and let it steep in the syrup. Then a second sugar syrup, even more concentrated to dip the already lavender dipped chestnuts, so double dipping. I added a little candied lavender to the top and let them dry for 15 hours.
I chopped them up, mixed them with the macerated dried fruit and citrus peel and added them to the batter of the cake. The cake recipe is from King Alfred Flour. The final result was a beautiful tasty and gluten free panettone.

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