This old chestnut

You might think something with the french name for ‘1000 layers’ would be overly complicated to grapple with, but I can assure you the only recent preparation I had in dealing with anything of 1000 layers was a post-stag do hangover a couple of weeks ago.

And in hindsight, had someone kindly presented me with a chestnut & ginger mille feuille topped with caramelised apples, my recovery rate would most likely have tripled.

[Fidde – I Wonder If You Know, Slav Records, 2020]
[Beaches – Jesper Ryom, Delicieuse Records, 2020]

Shopping list (serves 4)
Custard filling:
Egg yolks x 6
Whole milk x 300ml
Double cream x 300ml
Gelatine sheets x 6
Chestnuts (cooked & deshelled) x 200g
Fresh ginger (grated) x 20g
Vanilla bean paste x 2 tsp

Caramelised apple:
Apple (cored & evenly sliced into 16 pieces) x 1
Apple juice x 500ml
Dark muscovado sugar x 2 tbsp
Star anise x 1
Cinnamon stick x 1

Ready-rolled butter puff pastry sheet x 320g
Icing sugar

Start by infusing the milk and cream.

Blitz the chestnuts with a tablespoon of boiled water to a rough purée. Combine this with the milk, cream and ginger. Store in an airtight container overnight.

When you come to make the custard, sieve this mixture into a large pan, adding the vanilla bean paste. Gently place over a low heat until just about to boil. Remove from the heat.

At the same time, soak the gelatine leaves in some cold water for 10 minutes.

Whisk the yolks and sugar together until completely combined. Carefully add one ladle of the hot cream mixture, and whisk continuously into the yolks and sugar.

Now you can add this mixture into the pan of hot cream, whisking as you do. Place back over a low heat and cook until it starts to thicken slightly. Remove from the heat and add the gelatine leaves, mixing well.

Allow to come to room temperature, before scooping into piping bags and refrigerating for at least eight hours. This mix will keep in the fridge for three days, or can be frozen for one month.

Set your oven to 200° (fan)/220°C.

Use a circular pastry cutter to make 12 even discs from the puff pastry. Place the discs on a baking tray lining them top and bottom with baking paper. Place another baking tray on top and bake in your hot oven for 20 minutes.

Allow the pastry discs to cool completely.

For the caramelised apples, place the apple pieces in a baking dish with the rest of the ingredients, cover and place in the oven for another 20 minutes.

Remove the apple pieces, and pour the liquid into a small saucepan. Reduce for around 10 minutes, or until you have a silky syrup. Add the cooked apples back in. Keep warm.

Assemble the mille feuille by piping the chestnut custard onto two discs, stacking and covering with a third disc.

Liberally coat all four mille feuille in icing sugar, before topping with the apples. Perfect with vanilla ice cream, if you like.



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