One of my favorite Turkish candies made with chestnuts is called "karaoke" (car-yo-KAH'). These rich, luxurious bites of pure chestnut flavor are actually chocolate-covered balls of chestnut puree sprinkled with ground pistachio nuts.
Karaoke appears in the displays of fancy Turkish confectioners and pastry shops during the fall and winter months, especially around the New Year. Home cooks have the advantage of making them year-round, especially in parts of Turkey like Bursa and the Black Sea region where chestnuts are plump and plentiful.
The recipe for these chestnut confections is a well-kept secret by all the shops that sell them. The recipe below is one I developed after a lot of trial and error to resemble the pastry shop versions.
The most time-consuming part of the recipe is preparing and boiling the chestnuts. The rest is done in a mixer.
Try your hand at making these delicious confections at home when you have chestnuts in your pantry and give your family a real treat. You can place each candy in a decorative paper candy cup or put them in candy boxes to make wonderful gifts.
- 1 pound/600 grams chestnuts
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2-4 tbsp. heavy cream
- 80 grams/30 ounces bitter (dark) chocolate
- 2 tbsp. pistachio nuts (finely ground, for garnish)
- Before you begin, you must boil your chestnuts until tender. To do this, using a sturdy, sharp knife, slice into the outer hull crosswise each chestnut making a slit deep enough to penetrate the inner hull as well.
- Put the chestnuts in a large saucepan and fill it with water to cover the chestnuts well. Bring to a boil and let the chestnuts boil with a cracked lid for about 20 minutes or until they are very tender.
- When the chestnuts are tender, drain them and run them under cold water until they are cool enough to handle. Use the paring knife to remove the outer shell and the inner brown membrane. Be careful to remove all the membrane not leaving any small pieces.
- First , put two cups of boiled, peeled chestnuts, powdered sugar and 2 tbsp. of heavy cream in a food processor and pulse on high until well blended.
- Continue to add cream little by little, processing each time, until you have a dough-like puree that doesn't stick to your hands. Remove the puree from the mixer, form it into a ball and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Melt the bitter chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave oven. Gently whisk one tbsp. of heavy cream into to melted chocolate.
- Break off pieces of the chestnut puree and form them into balls the size of chestnuts. Roll them in the melted chocolate to cover all sides with the help of a fork. Place each ball on a tray covered with wax paper. Garnish one side or the top of each ball with ground pistachio nuts before the chocolate hardens.
- Place the tray in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before serving to allow the chocolate to set.
- If you don't like working with melted chocolate, you can also roll your karaoke in cocoa powder to coat them.
- For serving, you can place each candy in a small paper confection cup or arrange them on a fancy serving dish. A chocolate chestnut or two goes very well with coffee and boxes of them make wonderful gifts.