Some of you may remember that we planted some chestnut trees last year as part of our efforts to expand the number of different food crops that we grow and create part of our permaculture landscape. Before we planted any more of them, I figured I'd better make sure we actually like to eat them, so I went hunting for chestnut recipes and chestnuts. Costco had some organic roasted chestnuts for sale, so that covered the nut end of things, and these Maple Pumpkin Blondies from The Healthy Gluten Free Life looked like something my family would be willing to eat, so I started from there and made a few tweaks to work with our flavor preferences and pantry contents. I'm rechristening my version as “Cranberry Chestnut Bars”, because the texture is nothing like a proper blondie (no offense to THGFL – they are just not blondies). These bars have a texture more like really good quickbread – moist and tender, a little bit heavier than most cakes. The cranberries add brightness to the recipe – a little “pop” of flavor. They'd be great without the chocolate chips, too, but of course the boys are more likely to gobble things up if there's chocolate involved.
I used organic roasted chestnuts that I found at Costco and ran them through the food processor until they were finely blended. You can also buy chestnut flour online, or you may be able to find chestnuts in the regular grocery store around the holiday season.
Unlike many nuts, chestnuts have a sweet flavor and somewhat mealy texture. Why use chestnuts? (Other than the fact that I'm growing them…) According the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry:
- Chestnuts have the same amount of vitamin C as an equal weight of lemons
- Chestnuts are high in fiber and have a low glycemic index, helping you feel full longer
- Chestnuts are high in folic acid and antioxidants like vitamin E
The closest nut that comes to mind in texture is a macadamia nut, but chestnuts are sweeter and more mealy, to my palate. If you don't have access to chestnuts or chestnut flour, another nut flour or finely ground nuts could probably be substituted with good results.
So without further ado, here's my latest round of gluten free, grain free, dairy free – but tasty – baking, which I hope to one day be duplicating with our home raised chestnuts.
Cranberry Chestnut Bars Recipe
1/3 cup pure grade B maple syrup
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg (or 1 TBSP flax meal mixed with 3 TBSP hot water)
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life mini chips)
Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease an 8×8 glass baking dish. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Stir in cranberries.
Spoon batter evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top of the batter.
Bake 40 – 45 minutes or until golden brown and the center springs back when touched. Cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 16 servings.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer up to 3 months.Print
Cranberry Chestnut Bars
A moist, delicious bar with a pop of brightness from dried cranberries –
Gluten free, grain free, dairy free
- 1 cup chestnut flour
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/3 cup arrowroot starch
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar or organic cane sugar
- 1/3 cup pure grade B maple syrup
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 egg (or 1 TBSP flax meal mixed with 3 TBSP hot water)
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease an 8×8 glass baking dish. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Stir in cranberries.
- Spoon batter evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top of the batter.
- Bake 40 – 45 minutes or until golden brown and the center springs back when touched. Cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 16 servings.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer up to 3 months.
In case you missed it, here's the baby chestnut tree planting. All the trees looked healthy going into winter, and last I checked they were still protected in their little cages. Theoretically, these might start producing in 3-5 years. We'll see.
This week we sent out our huge tree and shrub order for this year, working to expand our permaculture efforts – more spruce trees to continue filling in the tree line, disease resistant raspberries, uber hardy peaches, red red rhubarb, a filbert, paw paws, kiwis, seaberries, apples, goumis, elderberries, Siberian peashrubs… I told my husband we'd better keep planting while we have strong teenage boys on hand to help dig holes and carry water to get things established. 😉
How are garden and planting plans going in your area? Have you ever cooked with chestnuts? I'd love to get some more ideas for chestnuts and hazelnuts, and just to hear what others are up to on their homesteads.
You may also enjoy:
- Gluten Free Banana Bread
- Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake with Almond Flour
- Chocolate chip cookie dough truffles made with almond flour and coconut oil