This gorgeous confection, the marron glacé, as seen in a Florentine pasticceria this week, originated in northern Italy and southern France, long before those geographical distinctions meant much of anything.
The marron glacé is made from a chestnut that is both candied and glazed in a sugar syrup. These lovelies are eaten on their own as well as found in many desserts.
Marron glacés appeared in chestnut-growing areas in Italy and France shortly after the crusaders returned to Europe with sugar. Cooking with sugar allowed the creation of all kinds of new confectioneries.
It is believed that a candied chestnut confection was probably served around the beginning of the 15th century in Piedmont, among other places. But the marrons glacé as such (with the last touch of ‘glazing’), may have been created only in the 16th century.
The first written recipe for the marron glacé was made by an Italian cook working for the Duke of Savoy around 1580. The French recorded it at the Versailles court at the end of the following century.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can make your own. Here’s how:
And here’s a written recipe: