What they are: The earliest recipe for marrons glacés, or candied and glazed chestnuts, originates from 16th-century France, and gained in popularity in Louis XIV’s opulent Versailles court. Thousands of years of careful breeding have made the choicest chestnuts—also called marrons—less bitter and naturally sweeter.
How I discovered them: I have always loved chestnut desserts—one of my favorite sweets is mont blanc, a creamy, sweetened chestnut dessert popular in France and Japan. Years ago, I had a memorable marron glacé ice cream at Mora’s on Bainbridge Island—it was a delight to find, since the flavor is not wildly popular locally. On a recent trip to Paris, I eagerly spooned up marron glacé ice cream on multiple occasions, from the iconic Berthillon on Rue St. Louis to acclaimed bistro Le Comptoir. Of course, I purchased a large box of delicious glazed chestnuts to enjoy at home.
How to use them in the kitchen: Marrons glacés are perfect for any fall or winter-inspired dessert—their dark, sweet flavor marries well with wintry fruit like persimmons, and heady spices like nutmeg, cloves or cinnamon. Try this month’s recipe for marron glacé ice cream as a lovely dessert on its own or a wonderful accompaniment to your first pumpkin pie of the season.
Where to find them: DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine ($21.99–$36.99; Pike Place Market, 1435 First Ave.; 206.622.0141; delaurenti.com)