Tuscan experiences, musings, and travel tips brought to you by Carol Faenzi

A Favorite Tuscan Holiday Treat!

Simple to make, decadently delicious and No Sugar!


This is one of the best-loved Tuscan desserts that are included in “la cucina povera,” the poor man’s kitchen.  Many Tuscan specialties like gnocchi and polenta came from the kitchens of Tuscans who created wonderful meals from limited resources:  corn meal, potatoes and yes, chestnuts!


This recipe dates to 1553 – and many variations followed.  Here is my favorite:


Castagnaccio – Four Servings


  • 1-1/4 cups of chestnut flour (varieties available on Amazon!)
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 6 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • Chopped Rosemary (to taste)
  • Handful of Pine Nuts (can be combined or substituted with almonds or walnuts)
  • Handful of Raisins or Currants (option: soak in vin santo liqueur)


Soak the raisins in hot water (or better yet, vin santo).  Pour the chestnut flour into a bowl and add 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil.  Gradually add the cold water, whisking the mixture until smooth with no lumps.  Set aside for 30 minutes.


Meanwhile, oil a shallow rectangular baking pan.  (I also line with parchment paper to prevent sticking).


(Remember, the larger the pan, the thinner your cake will be – this will affect baking time!). 


Heat 3 Tablespoons of the olive oil in a small saucepan, and throw in the rosemary leaves for a minute to infuse the oil with the flavor.


Pour the flour mixture into the cake pan, sprinkle in the nuts and the drained raisins, then drizzle over everything, the rosemary oil and any remaining olive oil.


Bake at 425 degrees – about 30 minutes. 


The cake should be a nice brown and wrinkled.  Slice and serve with ricotta and/or a bit of vin santo.


That's it, simple and natural, just like most Italian recipes. What are some of YOUR favorite holiday treats?


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