The French refer to chestnuts as châtaigne or marron. A marron glacé is a confection; candied in sugar syrup and glazed – originating in southern France and northern Italy. Marrons glacés are an ingredient in many desserts and are also a pure delicacy on their own. The earliest known records of a recipe for marron glacés were written during the XVI century by an Italian cook that worked for Charles Emmanuel I. Towards the end of 19th century, Lyon was suffering from the collapse of the textile market, notably silk. In the midst of this crisis, Clément Faugier, a bridge and roadworks engineer, was looking for a way to boost the regional economy. In 1882 in Ardèche, with the help of a local confectioner, they created the first factory to produce marrons glacés. This chestnut Yule log (Bûche de Noël aux marrons) can be made a couple weeks in advance and kept frozen.
Chop two-third of the chestnuts and soak in Cognac for a few hours. Save remaining for topping.
Joconde biscuit is an almond sponge pastry classic, used as a base for many desserts and entremets. Makes two 18''x13''/46x33cm sheets. Preheated oven to 450ºF/230ºC 10 min before finishing biscuit. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites along with cream of tartar and half of sugar (15g) on high speed and whip until stiffness is achieved adding remaining sugar gradually. Transfer meringue to a clean large bowl and set aside. In the same bowl ; no need to clean it, combine the powders with the eggs, and beat on high speed for about 5 minutes or until pale yellow. Gently, fold one-third of the meringue into the almond mixture and add remaining meringue. Fold in melted butter but not hot. Spread evenly over baking trays lined with lightly oiled silicone mat, or parchment paper.
Bake for about 7 minutes or less. Do not over bake or it will break. Remove biscuit from oven and slide over countertop. Let cool, flip over kitchen towel or parchment. Let cool and remove the parchment paper or silicone mat. Wrap up and chill if used later.
Soak gelatin in cold water for about 5 minutes; drain. Bring to a boil milk and sugar. Meanwhile, beat yolks, sugar and starch. Temper yolk mixture with half of the hot milk – return mixture in milk; bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes; whisking constantly. Remove from heat and add gelatin and butter; whisk well until smooth. Transfer onto a wrapped tray; wrap in contact. Let cool and refrigerate. Beat chestnut paste with Cognac. Add 1/4 of the custard first; beat well and add remaining custard – beat well on high speed until smooth. Then, fold in whipped cream.
Beat together heavy cream and chestnut cream to medium firm peaks.
Drain marinated chestnut. Overlap a few layers of plastic wrap onto the work surface. Place the Joconde biscuit; skin side up and spread chestnut mousseline evenly. Add marron pieces all over the mousseline. Roll out from the right or left using the plastic wrap as a guide and freeze for a couple of hours. Reshape the log if necessary; wrap again and freeze to harden. Cut off ends and save. Lightly coat the frozen log with some of the chestnut chantilly and top with the saved ends to mimic log knots. Pipe out remaining chestnut chantilly to cover the log. Garnish with milk chocolate shavings, silver pearls, candied chestnuts and Xmas decorations. Served thawed. Joyeux Noël 🎅🏻