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Chestnut honey is a specific type of honey where pollination occurs through the blossoms of the Chestnut tree. This variety of honey is popular in Italian dishes and other cuisines in the Mediterranean region. The use of chestnut honey has been extended to other parts of the world in gourmet culinary audiences.
In general, honey experts recognize some unique qualities of this type of food. Chestnut based honey resists crystallization, and is rich in different minerals and tannins. It has a strong flavor that some describe as smoky. It’s important to note that although some gourmet cooks use this type of honey specifically for a stronger flavor, others may find the taste repulsive. Those who are experienced in this area of the culinary world understand that different palates have different tastes, and chestnut honey needs to be used accordingly.
One main use of chestnut based honey in some cultural cuisines is associated with crepes. Crepes, commonly known as a French dish, are thin, flat rolls of dough that are filled with various ingredients. Some cooks use chestnut honey as part of the ingredients for the actual crepe dough, while others drizzle it on top of the crepe. A common pairing for chestnut honey crepes is a ricotta cheese filling.
Cooks have been known to combine this type of honey with various strong cheeses. Blue cheese is one common example. Gorgonzola is another cheese that is often paired with this type of honey. Manchego cheese, a Spanish cheese, is a milder variety that is often combined with honey, but is usually used with lighter varieties of honey.
Some chefs recommend specific complex combinations for chestnut honey recipes. These might include walnuts or almonds, as well as specific greens like arugula. Some fruits, such as pears or dried apricots, might also be added to these preparations.
In addition to chestnut honey, Italians and others throughout the region use the actual chestnuts in many culinary presentations. The "meat" of the chestnut is roasted for sale on the holidays, and can be added to many meat dishes as a garnish. Cooks also soak the chestnut in sweet syrups and serve it as part of a dessert tray. As these dishes require significant chestnut orchards, the making of chestnut honey is easier in these areas, which is why so much of this product is still exported to other parts of the world.