I really, really wanted to make Katya's choice for this week - Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake. Doesn't that just sound divine? And I really, really love chestnuts. They've always been a bit of a mythical character to me. Yeah, they're in lots of songs about Christmas and roasting fires, but who has even seen (or eaten) one? One that's not pureed or otherwise rendered unrecognizable? So with a doubtful mind I listened to my sister's response one chilly November night last year in Shanghai to my question of "What's that?" It was directed at a street vendor's cart, where the vendor was roasting many brown ovals which he jiggled for noise and attention. It got mine. "Chestnuts." What?! Seriously? I immediately made a bee-line for the vendor and starred at the brown ovals while my sister bargained for a bag in Mandarin. I crunched open the shell with my teeth and found a cream, slightly nutty, and very interesting taste. It wasn't sweet or bitter, just slightly nutty and with that eluding taste that is quite addictive. Needless to say I finished the bag, and quite a few more on my trip.
But alas, I'm back in Georgia, and in a town with no Whole Foods or specialty stores. I hunted for chestnuts and chestnut cream, vowing to pay whatever it cost while crossing my fingers it wasn't too crazy expensive. But I couldn't find the darn things. So I skipped a week, and made the lovely Cran-Apple Crisps picked by Em.
Of course, I couldn't find all the ingredients for it either. The store here only carries frozen cranberries during Christmas, and we're not quite there yet. So I just omitted it, but kept the dried cranberries, and added a few chopped almonds.
I quartered the recipe to make two single servings - quite easy quartering (thankfully I didn't stand around trying strenuously to figure some math in the kitchen). My family and I are spoiled by apple and crisp desserts. Blame it on my great-grandmother, who made lovely desserts and passed on her recipes. I made an apple crisp for friends one Thanksgiving when I was living in Ghana. It was almost gone before dinner was officially served and they never stopped begging me to make it again.
This crisp, well, I'd definitely make it again. The topping was great, perfect for single dishes, and the dried cranberries added a lovely tartness that contrasted perfectly with the sweetness of the apples and sugar. Definitely blue ribbon material.