22 December 2011

Truly Sugar-Free Chestnut Truffles

Have you ever roasted chestnuts in your oven and overlooked "venting" one or two (or three) of them?

I have.

When my bff and I were roommates, one winter evening we decided to roast some chestnuts. I tossed them all onto a baking sheet, vented them with a knife, and popped them into the oven. Then I went to hang out in the living room. An indeterminate length of time passed before we heard a very loud bang coming from the back of the house. We stopped to listen, thinking something had fallen off the roof, or something had fallen off of a shelf, or someone was trying to break in. Another loud bang came from the back of the house. I wondered if we were hearing close gunshots1, but the bff thought it was too loud. You might have noticed that not once did I consider the chestnuts.2
If I'm making it seem like we were sitting and listening for a while, that wasn't the case.3 It was really only a couple of minutes, at most, before the bff exclaimed, "The chestnuts!" Which, of course, it was (Occam's Razor). Two of them had violently exploded all over the oven, very much like Mr. Creosote in "The Meaning of Life". Not to be outdone by its siblings, one evil chestnut waited until I pulled the pan out of the oven to detonate.
Despite the carnage, we thought it was pretty funny. It also helped that we escaped being mutilated by that last chestnut.

The moral of this story is: Don't dump all of your chestnuts onto a baking sheet, and then try to slice/vent them; slice them one by one as you place them on the baking sheet.
I cannot stress enough the importance of not taking a lackadaisical approach to venting your chestnuts4; however, it did make for a pretty amusing story.5 We still talk/laugh about it.

No chestnuts were explosively harmed in the making of these truffles
I actually had another recipe set to post first, but I was so excited about the truffles, I wanted to share them right away.
This recipe is another one inspired by my Italian traditions. I know chestnuts aren't just Italian; although, they are very Italian. Chestnut flour is still widely used in Tuscan baking - the traditional castagnaccio (a simple, dense chestnut flour cake) is always vegan and gluten free! Italian street vendors sell roasted chestnuts (caldarroste), even in the summer.
Italy is one of the world's largest producers of chestnuts. In fact, most chestnuts in the U.S. are imported from Italy.

The truffles are simple to make and have very few ingredients6 - four ingredients to be precise; five, if you use vanilla or cocoa. I try my best to keep my recipes simple in the sense that you're not left searching7 for hard-to-find ingredients; however, I realize that this could be an iffy one. I get my chestnut flour from the Italian market. If you don't have access to such a resource, it's possible to locate and order online.
As I mentioned above, chestnut flour is naturally gluten free (yay!). Chestnuts are also naturally sweet, so I made these truffles truly sugar free. Really. There is absolutely no sweetener of any kind, although you would never think it, after tasting them. I even tried one batch with a bit of coconut nectar, and I found them to be too sweet. You may have to try it to believe it, but they really do turn out with the perfect truffle sweetness.

Chestnut Truffles*
(makes 12)
  • 1 1/3 Cup (120g) Chestnut Flour
  • 1/3 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Cup (120g) Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 3 Tbsp (45g) Non-Dairy Milk (I used So Delicious® Coconut Milk)
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract (optional)
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder for dusting (optional)
Bring your non-dairy milk to room temp or slightly warmer.
Gently warm the coconut oil, so that it is a soft, semi-solid consistency; not quite a liquid, if possible. If it melts to liquid, it's fine.

In a mixing bowl combine chestnut flour and sea salt. Stir in coconut oil and non-dairy milk (and vanilla, if you're using it), and mix well. Your mixture should be a consistency somewhere between batter and very smooth cookie dough. Cover the bowl with foil or plastic (eep!) wrap, and place in the fridge to chill for at least 30-45 minutes or overnight.

Once your truffle glob is chilled, roll into small (approx. 1") balls. When rolling truffles, you don't want to handle them too long. Work quickly, and then gently roll the truffle into a bit of cocoa powder or even some chestnut flour, if you really want to go "maximum chestnut". Place the finished truffles onto a plate or baking sheet lined with parchment/waxed paper.

Allow the truffles to chill again (20-30 mins) before serving.

*Chestnuts have a distinct but delicate flavor that can be overpowered by some other ingredients. I wanted the chestnut flavor to shine through, so I chose to keep it simple. Feel free to create any variations; some other fun ideas are:
  • Chocolate Chestnut Truffles: Add 2 Tbsp (10g) of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (depending on your sweet tooth, you may want to add a tsp or two of coconut nectar or a few drops of stevia)
  • Eggnog Chestnut Truffles: Add 1/2 tsp of Nutmeg and sub So Delicious® Coconut Nog for the non-dairy milk. Roll the truffles in a mixture of chestnut flour and a pinch of cinnamon.
  • Lower-Fat Chestnut Truffles: Sub an equal amount of mashed ripe banana (make sure it's room temp) for half of the coconut oil. You may detect slight hints of banana. The banana flavor can be well-hidden, if made into a chocolatey truffle.
You can also play with rolling the truffles in crushed hazelnuts, powdered coconut sugar, cinnamon, cinnamon & cocoa, coconut sugar & cocoa, coconut sugar & cinnamon... the possibilities are virtually endless.
Drizzle (or douse/dunk) the finished truffles with chocolate sauce (1T Cocoa Powder, 2T Coconut Oil, Stevia/Coconut Nectar/Agave to sweeten) or melted chocolate chips.

Have fun, and enjoy!

(and Create a Fabulous Day.)


1. We didn't live anywhere "dangerous", but it wasn't out of the realm of possibilities.
2. I'm typically more astute.
3. That sounds, uh... like it should be some sort of double-entendre, but it's not. This is a family blog!
5. It was not an amusing clean-up. The bff didn't help with it either.
6. As most conscious meals/recipes should.
7. And shelling out extra money


  1. Oh my gosh, yum! I can see why you don't need any sugar, since it is all chestnutty goodness. I thought these were made of chestnut paste and melted dark chocolate originally, so the recipe is a nice surprise! Chestnut flour is quite pricey where I am (New Zealand), but this looks like a damn good way to use it!

  2. @ Zo. Thank you!! :-)
    If it is more accessible/less expensive, it might be possible to sub chestnut paste for the flour; just omit the non-dairy milk.
    If you try it, I'd love to hear the results!

  3. Well I've made a chocolate chestnut tart that way and it worked pretty well, although as truffles they might be a bit too squishy. Still, I could have probably just used less paste.

    1. The coconut oil helps them to solidify. If you pop them into a cool place for a few minutes, that might help to eliminate any possible squishiness :-)
      Maybe too, if you wanted to try to make a Chocolate Chestnut version, I bet a bit of cocoa powder would help balance out the paste,

  4. I love the Mr. Creosote reference.

    1. Thanks! :-)
      I wasn't sure if anyone would get or appreciate it, but I couldn't resist.