Chestnut Dessert Puree
(Makes about 8 cups thick puree)
4 pounds large, heavy chestnuts (watch out for worm holes)
4 cups water, more if necessary
3 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
Optional: non-fat milk or cream (to thin the puree)
1. Halve chestnuts with a heavy knife or cleaver. Place in a very large skillet or saucepan and add enough water to cover them. Boil for about 10 minutes or until the shells can easily be removed.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3. Remove chestnuts, a few at a time, from the water. Peel off shell sand husks, then place nuts in a large heavy saucepan. Add water,sugar, and vanilla bean to the pan and stir to mix in the sugar. The liquid should just cover the chestnuts. (Add more water if it doesn't.)
4. bake chestnuts uncovered till tender ,depending upon dryness of the nuts. Stir nuts and keep adding water if necessary, until they are very tender and the syrup is very thick.
5. Let chestnuts cool completely in the syrup, then puree them in batches in a food processor or blender, adding milk or cream if you want to have a thinner puree. Press the entire mixture through the fine disc of a food mill. Divide the puree among 1- or 2-cup freezer containers. Seal, date, and freeze.
note: You can cook the chestnut on the stove, they require attendant, and stirring often, so the heat distributed evenly and doesn't stick to the bottom of the saucepan.