In the U.S., chestnuts are far from popular. You might find them in a fall soup or a fancy French dessert, but it’s rare. In France, however, chestnuts are so ubiquitous that you can find them at even the smallest supermarkets. They’re generally sold as a sweetened chestnut spread, flavored with vanilla and sugar to draw out the sweetness of the nuts. The spread tastes like a more sophisticated, non-chocolate version of Nutella and is equally versatile.
In France, I initially picked up the tube of chestnut purée because of the beautiful packaging, but quickly fell in love with the taste. I squirted it on just about anything I could find, from strawberries to yogurt. Luckily, the same brand is available in the U.S., so my addiction continues. Who knows whether that’s a good thing, but it’s led to a lot of delicious experimentation.
**How to Get Through a Jar of Chestnut Spread**
1. Spread it on warm toast, either with a berry jam or just by itself. This is especially good on sweeter bread like challah or brioche.
2. Stir a tablespoon into plain yogurt, and then top with berries for a savory and sweet breakfast.
3. Make some fancy chocolate-covered strawberries. Cut a slit in each strawberry, fill it with chestnut spread, then dip in melted chocolate. Let them harden in the fridge, and enjoy!
4. Smear it on a cracker or piece of bread, then top with creamy goat cheese and a drizzle of honey. It’ll make just about any cheese taste better.
5. Blend it into whipped cream, then use it to top off coffee drinks, summer fruit cakes, or ice cream.
6. Spread it inside some homemade crepes; it’s just as good as Nutella.
Hillary Pollak is a senior at New York University, where she studies sustainable food. In her spare time, she can be found baking gluten-free treats and practicing yoga.