This honey vanilla chestnut spread is a wonderful seasonal alternative to nut butter. It’s delicious slathered on toast and great as a fruit dip too!
I didn’t eat a roasted chestnut until I was 20.
It took living in another country and walking past a food cart that sold them everyday for 2 months before I finally caved.
I have no idea how or why I resisted their intoxicating winter smell that permeated the entire block for so long because one bite into the first one and I was a chestnut fan for life.
They were sold in a cone made of newspaper so by the time you finished the last one your hands were completely black from the ink.
I think that’s about the only time in my life I haven’t minded having “newspaper hands” (major annoyance usually).
I don’t know what I expected them to taste like but I do remember being completely shocked upon the first bite and my initial thought being that they kind of tasted like a potato!
Not like a nut at all.
Tricky little suckers.
They’re a wonderful middle ground of sweet and savory with an addicting starchy texture.
Those roasted chestnuts along with the gazpacho my host family made weekly were two of my favorite food memories from my time in Spain.
Since “nut” is in their name, I wanted to see if I could butterize these babies like the rest of them and make a “chestnut butter” if you will.
I figured if almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, etc. could be turned into butter, why couldn’t chestnuts?
So here we are with this chestnut spread.
The thing is apparently chestnuts don’t really get creamy.
I’m assuming it’s because they have a lower oil content than other nuts and more starch.
Although, I can’t fully rule out that maybe I was just too impatient (15 minutes, however, is about all I can take of hearing a food processor whirl around) in my attempts?
But, honestly, I don’t even care because the result, this chestnut spread, was still edible, still spreadable and still totally delicious in a roasted “potatoe-y” sweet kind of way.
That’s probably not a great description because who really wants to spread potatoes on their toast, but just trust me on this.
It’s a good kind of “potatoe-y”.
In less than 12 hours I’ve already eaten it on toast, spread on a pear, in a chestnut smoothie and stuffed in a date.
So it’s got some potential.
Also, there were 2 full meals consumed in that time frame in addition to those things.
I guess I eat a lot.
The smell and ambience of roasting them in your oven doesn’t quite compare to the smoky food cart on a Christmas lit corner in Malaga, Spain, but the taste is just as good.
Maybe even better since there’s no black newspaper hands to deal with afterwards.
Chestnuts are really such a seasonal gem so I’m always looking for ways to incorporate them while I can find them in the store.
While this recipe instructs you to roast and peel them yourself, they’re also sold vacuumed packed pre-roasted and peeled.
MORE NUT BUTTERS AND SPREADS TO TRY:
Honey Vanilla Chestnut Spread
- 1 1/4 cup chestnuts
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup pecans
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 2-3 tablespoons water
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Carefully score chestnuts with an “x” just piercing the shell and place on baking sheet. It’ll take some force to get through the outer shell. Use a sharp knife and keep fingers out of the way!
- Roast for 30 minutes until chestnuts have split open and peeled back a bit.
- Remove from oven and let cool for a couple of minutes until you can handle them. Remove shell from chestnuts and place flesh in a food processor. Make sure to peel them while they’re still warm/hot as it’s much easier than when they cool.
- Add walnuts and pecans to the food processor and process for about 2-3 minutes until finely chopped.
- With the food processor running, add the coconut oil. Let it continue processing for about 2-3 more minutes then add honey, vanilla and salt.
- Scrape down if needed then continue processing and add water until the mixture starts to come together a bit more.
- Stop the food processor when the mixture can be pinched together with your finger and is essentially “spreadable”. It will not be as creamy as a regular nut butter.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.