Califonia Bountiful

Chestnut pudding with persimmon sorbet

Chef Luca Crestanelli acknowledges a fondness for the rich, complex flavor of chestnuts, which are abundant in his native Italy. But can the persimmon sorbet stand on its own? "Yes, absolutely."

Chef Luca Crestanelli
S.Y. Kitchen, Santa Ynez

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Persimmon sorbet
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
4 to 5 ripe Hachiya persimmons (make sure they are soft)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Grated peel of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of salt

Chestnut pudding
10 1/2 oz. peeled chestnuts (fresh or frozen)
3/4 cup medium brown sugar
5 tbsp. butter, softened
3 1/2 tbsp. skinned, ground almonds
1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean
2 pinches of salt
5 eggs


For sorbet: Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until sugar dissolves completely, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Slice persimmons, leaving skin on and removing seeds if needed. In a blender or food processor, blend fruit with syrup until smooth and silky. Transfer to a bowl and add lemon juice, lemon peel and salt. Mix until well combined. Chill in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours, stirring with a spatula every 30 to 40 minutes to keep ice crystals from forming and to freeze sorbet uniformly. If using a home ice-cream maker, freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

For pudding: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chestnuts in a saucepan and add milk to cover. Cook over medium heat until chestnuts are tender, 5 to 10 minutes for packaged, precooked versions. Drain. Puree chestnuts in a blender or food processor. Pour puree in a mixing bowl with brown sugar, butter, almonds, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Mix until blended. Separate eggs. Beat yolks and add to chestnut mixture. Beat whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into chestnut mixture. Pour into individual ramekins (or a round, ovenproof baking dish). Place in a water bath in a baking pan and bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

To serve: Place a ramekin of chestnut pudding on a serving plate with a scoop of sorbet—either on top of the warm pudding or on the side.

Serves 4

Photo: © 2019 Silas Fallstich

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