In 2011, Sam received his doctorate in Mathematics. His thesis was called Justification Logics with Common Knowledge, and he asked me to proofread the English for him. It was nearly flawless, but he still offered to compensate my services in any way I saw fit. For me, the most logical choice was to be paid in my favourite food, chestnuts.
Love and Chestnuts
Sam has been creative in his payment, which continues to this day. Sometimes when we are out and about in the town he will reach into his pocket and pull out a warm paper bag full of the nuts. Or he will come home from work with a pastry topped with Vermicelles (chestnut spaghetti, as my friend Caitie calls it). Or I'll peek in to the fridge to find Marroni yogurt.
It's heaven on earth.
Last year on my birthday, he upped the ante by topping one of my favourite desserts, Tiramisu, with chestnut puree.
Sam was already famed for his super simple cheat's tiramisu, which could be whipped up quickly with his secret ingredient, Stalden Creme, which is basically vanilla pudding in a can.
(For more on its history, and why Parisians killed and ate the elephants in their zoo, see my post on Stalden Creme.)
Anyway, it is a simple and elegant dessert with just the right amount of chestnuts—lots.
1 can vanilla Stalden cream
500 g mascarpone
around 30 ladyfingers
1 cup of coffee
a shot of booze
a 250 g block of chestnut puree
In a large bowl, mix together the can of Stalden cream and the mascarpone.
In a measuring cup, mix together the coffee and booze.
Layer the bottom of your serving dish with half of your lady fingers. Douse these with the boozy coffee, then spread with half of the cream mixture. Sprinkle with cocoa powder. Repeat the layers.
Feed your block of chestnut puree through a vermicelles press directly onto the tiramisu.
Sprinkle with cocoa powder.
If you don't have Stalden Creme, a similar vanilla cream or pudding would probably work.
Cointreau is often used in tiramisu, or marsala wine, port, or brandy. Sam suggests Stroh Rum if you can get it.
Sam says that his recipe is flexible and can be easily adjusted to the size of dish. He usually makes two layers, but you could easily make more.
You can get a vermicelles press online or at the Migros or Coop.