These cranberry chestnut bars have a texture like 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.
Some of you may remember that we planted some chestnut trees in 2014 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.
Why Bake with Chestnut Flour?
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
- High in fiber and have a low glycemic index, chestnuts help 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. 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.
I used organic roasted chestnuts 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.
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 duplicate with our home raised chestnuts. (I also made up some chestnut brownies and shared them on the site.)Print
Cranberry Chestnut Bars
A moist, delicious bar with a pop of brightness from dried cranberries –
Gluten free, grain free, dairy free
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 16 bars
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- 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 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.
- Serving Size: 1 slice
Keywords: chestnut flour, chestnuts, gluten free, dairy free
Planting Chestnut Trees
In case you missed it, here's the baby chestnut tree planting. These trees were supposed to be fast growing, producing in as little as 3-5 years. Instead, they are sitting, growing very slowly. I think perhaps our high winds are battering the tiny trees a little too much. Two out of four of our first planting survived, one out of two of our second planting was still alive heading into this winter. The butternut tree is in much better shape, and is up to around ten feet tall.
Chestnuts are recommended in the book Restoration Agriculture as part of a temperate climate silvopasture system. As we continue to fill in our homestead permaculture plan, the tall nut trees will make up the upper levels of the food forest areas. We're experimenting with a number of standard species for our area like apples and plums, but also unusual plants like seaberries and paw paws. We also have a small hazelnut thicket, though unfortunately our first attempt at growing walnuts was eaten by the deer. I thought they didn't like the taste of walnuts, and didn't protect the tree enough. Lesson learned.
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.
More Made from Scratch Recipes
Be sure to check out the Recipes and Kitchen Tips page for a full listing of all our recipes, sorted by category.
Some of our other gluten free recipes include:
- Gluten Free Banana Bread
- Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake with Almond Flour
- Chocolate chip cookie dough truffles made with almond flour and coconut oil
You may also enjoy my book, “Never Buy Bread Again“, which is available in print and digital formats. If I can teach my kids to make a good loaf of bread, anyone can do it.
Originally published in 2015, updated in 2018.