I recently visited the French island of Corsica, for a familly visit. I did not land straight in my familly, instead we chose to drive some of the island for a few days. Starting with Cap Corse, then going along the whole East Coast down to Bonifacio and back up to Porto Vecchio.
The Island, besides being absolutely beautiful, has a lot to offer to foodies. It has rather stayed unspoilt for most of it, and the local produces are of great quality.
The island harbours a great quantity of chestnut trees in the mountainous areas (The centre of the island - see map above) and the corsicans who used to live in autarcy, make good use of the chestnuts. The latter, besides being eaten by the wild pigs, are used for human consumption for making flour amongst other uses.
Chestnut flour is ground in the winter for the whole year, so the locals buy it then and store quantities for the rest of the year. I had tried to cook with chestnut flour years ago, but was unsuccessful as I then used it pure. This time around, I got some tips from my aunt, who told me that for uses such as in shortcrust pastry, a ration of 20/80 mix of Chestnut and wheat flour) or 1/3-2/3 depending on one's taste is usual since chestnut flour is so strong. It is however used pure in cakes, or flans, dishes in which flour is not the main ingredient in general.
Before reaching my aunt's house in Propriano, on our costline drive, I have had the opportunity to taste a chestnut flan in a restaurant (the Bosco) in Ajaccio that I found delicious. The meal at the restaurant had nothing special to it, but the dessert made up for the whole. When I asked my aunt, she though I was talking about a flan in the style of a steamed creme caramel, more common, but the one I tasted was more like a French flan, made with chestnut flour.
Just to mention for coeliacs, chestnut flour is glutenfree.
Flan for 6 people:
- Shortcrust pastry or puff pastry
- 90 g chestnut flour
- 20g walnut and sesame powder
- 120 g sugar
- A few drops of vanilla
- 6 whole eggs
- 20 g melted butter
- 1/2 pint milk
- 80ml single cream
- A pinch of salt
Lay the pastry in a tart mould, and cook at 220 degrees until golden.
Sieve the Flour with the walnut powder. add the sugar, salt, and mix well.
Make a well and pour in the beaten eggs. Mix well and carefully.
Add the cream and the milk, then the butter.
Pour the mix in the cooked pastry and place in the oven at 180 degrees for about 30 min. watch that the top takes a golden colour.
And if you happen to have some of the delicious Corsican mountain honey, a filet of it on the tart makes great presentation and great extra flavour.
Source: recipes, my own alteration of a french flan, photos by myself.