My Life Philosophy (A Love Story)
Marianne's Easy Lasagna & favorite French phrase

Cheez Whiz + The 3-ingredient dessert my French guests raved about

French chestnut cake recipe

Make this easy chestnut cream cake and your guests, like mine, will be dipping their spoons into the pan for more! (Cuillères, because the French do not eat cake with fourchettes, as we do back home in Arizona.)

TODAY'S WORD: le marron

    1. brown or chestnut (color)
    2. chestnut 
    3.  black-eye (slang)

Mas-de-perdrix-kitchenMas de la Perdrix-the perfect home to celebrate special occasions with family and friends…click here.


Listen to Jean-Marc and improve your French pronunciation: Download MP3

C’est en 1882 alors que l'économie locale ardéchoise dans l’élevage du ver à soie traverse une crise due à une épidémie, que Clément Faugier, jeune homme du terroir, crée à Privas la première fabrique de Marrons Glacés.

It was in 1882, during a time when silkworm farming in the Ardèche was in a state of crisis due to an epidemic, that Clément Faugier, a young man from the region, created the first candied chestnut factory in Privas.


    by Kristin Espinasse

When I first moved to France I began to notice all kinds of unusual behavior among the French, most of it coming from my husband-to-be. Jean-Marc loves the outdoors and we would often hike down the jagged calanques, to the sea, where we enjoyed picnicking. Jean-Marc's favorite things to eat included the traditional baguette and cheese... and a brown paste that he would suck from a tube. (I know that last phrase lacks elegance, unlike my then-boyfriend).

It turned out he was relishing his favorite childhood goûter, or snack: chestnut cream in a tube! And who was I to judge the way in which he ate it--when my favorite childhood snack was Cheez Whiz? For those unfamiliar with the product, French Wikipedia offers some incite:

    Il se présente sous la forme d'une pâte de couleur jaune et est conditionné dans des pots en verre.
    It is presented in the form of a yellow-colored paste, and packaged in glass pots.

Not my Cheez Whiz! Mine came in an aerosol can--all the better for spraying directly into the mouth before replacing it in my grandmother's cupboard, beside her canned green beans from my grandfather's garden.

An ocean away from those delightful gastronomic episodes, I now cultivate beans in my own garden, and compensate for so much healthy eating by punctuated indulgements. (Did you know you can now buy Cheez Whiz in France?)

One of my all-time favorite, decadent desserts is this French chestnut cake that Jean-Marc's aunt often made us during harvest time at her vineyard. And when we began our own vineyard, Marie-Françoise (that's her handwriting in the opening photo) brought this beloved gâteau de marrons to our harvest picnics, to help us out. Everyone loves it and so will you! 


Le Gâteau aux Marrons

Note: you can purchase the chestnut cream here at Amazon. It's pricey, but only three ingredients are needed for this cake, which costs around $15. (I served 8 people). Also, you may notice how Aunt Marie-Françoise handwritten recipe (pictured) calls for beating the egg whites and gently folding them in. Up to you. (I'd rather spend the effort pulling weeds near my fava beans. Grandpa, you would be proud!)


    => 500 grams or 1 can(about 2 cups) of Crème de Marrons vanillé (vanilla chestnut spread)
    =>100 grams of butter (about 7 tablespoons)
    => 3 eggs

In a pan, over medium heat, combine the chestnut spread and the butter until softened. Remove from stovetop and let cool before adding three beaten eggs. Stir to combine. Pour into cake pan.

Cook 45 minutes at 150C (300F)

Note: my cake seemed ready after only 20 minutes! It is a thin cake. I served it plain, but you could frost it or put a chocolate sauce on top! Sliced strawberries would be nice. Here's a picture of one I topped simply, with pecans and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Why not share this post with a friend? Thanks and enjoy. Et bon appétit!

To leave a comment or to read one, click here

French Chestnut cake gateau aux marrons

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Petrina in Brittany

Hello Kristi,
I really like the new format; very smart. Looking forward to trying Le Gâteau aux Marrons - looks & sounds yummy! Have a lovely day.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Petrina! So good to receive your feedback on the site changes. Enjoy your day.


I shared it w/ Pinterest..I vave that product and could not decide what to make:)Merci!

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

I noticed the new headline right away, Kristi, and thought it was perfect. I do like the new format. I am viewing from my phone and hope to appreciate even more when I see the full view on my laptop.

I did not know the French ate cake with a spoon vs fork. Interesting. Must be all those yummy creams. Amazing - a tasty cake with so few ingredients. Thanks for the link, too. I would have never thought to go to Amazon. In NYC I could find almost anything, but here in suburban Florida not so much.


I LOVE the new rotating recipe format !!! Kudos!


Great new format for the site! And that cake sounds delicious. I believe that in most places in Europe cake is served with a spoon. At least, that's how it's always been for us. I wonder whether I can make chestnut cream at home...

Barbara Berndt

In the photo, the recipe calls for 50 grams of butter; you have noted 100 grams. Have you tried it both ways? Also, is there a reason for adding the butter at a different stage?

Kristin Espinasse

Barbara, Thanks for pointing that out. Yes, both are good (but Ive settled for somewhere in between: 70 grams)


No,Katia, at least in Germany, they eat their cake with forks.....Same in Belgium and the spoons....

Barbara Berndt

Okay, Kristin. I'll look forward to experimenting myself!


Hi Kristin,

I love the new format too! The recipe looks yummy and easy to make! I like that! I just ordered the chestnut cream. Looking forward to trying it out! Have a great day!

Diane Kisk

Can you buy the vanilla chestnut spread in the USA?

Diane Kish

Found it, Kristin! Anxious to make it!


Our dear Kristi,
The only thing more wonderful than your heavenly Gateau aux Marrons is this new format!Especially love the recipe section!
It fills us with terrific ideas(just as you writing does!),and,always, with hugs.
All of it created with the kind of soigne only you can gift us with.
Natalia. xo


Hi Kristen,
I have a question:
I found this recipe that you posted on the American Community in France website and in that recipe you also stated that one could add 1 to 3 tablespoons of cornstarch (optional). I was wondering what that would do/what purpose that serves?
Also, do you make it with or without that?
Thanks for a great recipe (again). I can't wait to try it!

Cynthia Lewis

I, too, like the new format ... very, very captivating!

Mary Keates

Yummy Kristin,
In the evening,my son's French mother would sit and peel chesnuts.Like you,she made so many delicious foods.
Miss she and her cooking. Dan,my son,who did a 13th year of HighSchool/College and lived with his new family,was never so healthy.
25 years later,we still exchange needed items.I send anything she needs for her tisane...

Kristin Espinasse

Funny, I was vaguely remembering the cornstarch question as I went to make this recipe again. I don't know where I got that idea from! But I did go ahead and buy the cornstarch this time, only I decided to make the recipe according to Aunt Marie-Francoises notes and according to the Clement Fourier website (which, if you go there, also gives a recipe for chocolate sauce to pour on top! But back to the cornstarch, I may add 3 tablespoons to today's cake, then compare the two.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you all so much for your feedback on the website changes! I am so happy to read your comments! If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Bettye Dew

Thanks, Kristi, for the recipe, which I have passed on to a gluten-intolerant friend in a link to your blog. I plan to try it myself before long. In fact, I think I'll order that chestnut cream from Amazon right not, using the link from your blog.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Bettye! I appreciate your forwarding this post and using my Amazon link. Many thanks for your support.

Sheryl in Denver

Kristi - this looks wonderful. And so easy! I made your French yogurt cake last weekend and it was a big hit! I added blueberries this time, but I love the creativity of adding whatever suits your fancy (or is in the pantry at the time). I also made your zucchini gratinee, which was fabulous! So, little did you know that you were "in" my kitchen in Denver last week. My husband is in love with my new French cooking style. Formidable!


Thanks Kristi! I look forward to hearing which way you like better (and is, possibly, more "French"? :) ).
I love the recipes - but more importantly, how you make them seem easy to make. Me, a person who avoided making quiches for years and years because I thought it would be too difficult, can make mountains out of mole hills (or a better analogy being to make souffles out of quiches?). Any way, I really appreciate your casual way in explaining a recipe and making even the most anxious cook/baker feel that she/he can conquer whatever recipe you offer us.
Thank you! My birthday is next month, and maybe this will be my 2016 cake!

Susan Carter

I'm a little late getting here as I'm still trying to catch up after Christmas & all other things but wanted you to know I love the new format.


My Creme de Marrons vanille just arrived from amazon and I am anxious to try this wonderful sounding recipe. What type or size pan did you use?

Cheryl Dolby

Hi Kristin,
I'm new to your blog and so excited to have found you. I am headed to Nantes, France tomorrow Thursday Feb 18 and so very excited. I have subscribed to your blog and will try to remember how to add to my sidebar! LOL..
Healing Woman

Kristin Espinasse

Susan, Yay! Glad your order arrived. I used a glass quiche pan (round) (but could have very used a regular cake pan, either square or round (about the size of a dinner plate). My cake did not take long, so keep your eyes on yours. I served it directly out of the pan, sliding a long spatula under it as it tend to stick to the pan like a rich brownie.


Forks in the UK too 😊

Elise VanWoert

I just got my Creme de marron from Amazon and can't wait to try this!! Thank you so much for sharing. xxElise


I made the cake today. Delicious!!

I notice the original recipe called for mixing the chestnut cream with the egg yolks (without cooking), then adding the beaten whites and melted butter. Do you cook the chestnut cream with the butter so it will combine more easily with the eggs?

A few thoughts... although I used a 9 inch nonstick pan, the cook time was longer than 45 minutes and the cake stuck to the pan, so next time I plan to increase the temp 25 degrees and prep the pan with butter, flour, and parchment circle.

I read many of your entries before our last trip to France and they helped a great deal. Thank you!

Josephine Lawrence

I stumbled on this website by chance. I try to learn 3-4 French words per day. But I have to admit I'm a jealous woman who admires the way you are able to live in France. It would be my dream to come to Provence and stay a few months, not only to improve my French, but to see the sights, such as Avignon, where the popes resided. LUCKY, LUCKY you! My daughter and I have been to Paris twice, but of course there is so much to see that you will never see it all. Alas! I'm 65 and still a dreamer, but I envy your life there, even though I know running a business -- a vineyard, no less -- is an ongoing and exhausting job! Kind regards, Josie

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