So, what is it?
Chestnut flour is a grayish-tan alternative to regular all-purpose flour made from ground chestnuts. Its sweet flavor makes it a favorite ingredient for recipes involving almonds, chocolate, honey, and hazelnuts. A gluten-free product, chestnut flour is a cooking option for people with celiac disease or other gluten intolerance or allergies.
Since chestnuts do not contain the fat content regular nuts have, and are instead largely composed of carbohydrates, they have many of the same properties as flour. Known as the grain that grows on trees, chestnuts have been dried and made into mellow, sweet flavored flour in Italy for centuries. In Tuscany, where it is known as Farina di Castagne, chestnut flour is considered a staple food, and it is commonly called for in recipes.
Low in fat and calories, flour made from chestnuts is considered a healthier alternative to almond flour and white flour. It also generally contains less carbohydrates than white flour, making it an option for people striving to consume less of the nutrient. It is still, however, considered a high glycemic index food. The flour does not contain a significant amount of other nutrients.
Uses of the flour are endless. Chestnut flour bread, pie crust, crepes, and other baked foods can be made with the ingredient. Chestnut flour pasta is a popular dinner meal, particularly when combined with pine nut sauce. Chestnut cake, a Corsican recipe, also calls for the flour. The cake is available in many Corsican restaurants as a typical dessert.
1 cup chestnut flour, available in specialty stores
2 extra large eggs
1 1/4 cups water
2 cups fresh sheep's or cow's milk ricotta
1/2 cup chestnut or orange blossom honey
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Add the water, whisking until smooth. Allow to stand 15 minutes.
Place the ricotta in a mixing bowl and stir in half the honey.
Heat a 6 to 8-inch cast iron skillet or nonstick crepe pan over medium heat and brush with some of the olive oil. Add 2 tablespoons crepe batter and roll pan to distribute evenly and thinly. Cook until the crepe is firm on the underside and is curling up at the edges, about 1 minute; flip the crepe and cook on the raw side for about 30 seconds. Continue making crepes until all the batter is finished, stacking each finished crepe on top of the previous one, to keep them warm. To speed up the crepe making process use 2 skillets.
To serve, spoon 2 tablespoons of the ricotta honey mixture in the center of each crepe, fold in half, drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the remaining honey. Serve warm.