Give Pancake Day a Tuscan twist with this delectable chestnut pancake recipe
“Necci (chestnut pancakes) are traditionally made in the north of Tuscany where chestnut trees proliferate.
When wheat flour was sparse, chestnuts were dried and ground to use instead. Chestnut flour is used to make castagnaccio, a traditional flat cake decorated with pine nuts and rosemary. We took the decoration from this and paired it with necci to make this delicious dessert.”
For the pancake batter:
• 2 medium eggs
• pinch salt
• pinch sugar
• 125g chestnut flour
• 250-275ml whole milk
• extra-virgin olive oil or lard, for frying
For the filling:
• 50g raisins
• 25ml rum
• 500g ricotta, drained
• 100g cooked and peeled vacuum-packed chestnuts
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary needles
•1/2 lemon, finely grated zested
• runny honey, to drizzle
• small handful rosemary leaves, finely chopped
• 50g crumbled toasted chestnuts or toasted pine nuts
1 To make the pancake batter, whisk the eggs in a bowl with the salt, sugar and flour.
2 Gradually add 250 ml of the milk until you have a very smooth batter the consistency of runny, single (light) cream.
3 Add a little more milk if necessary. Let the batter stand at room temperature for around 15 minutes. It can be made the day before and kept in the fridge, covered.
4 Meanwhile, combine the filling ingredients in a bowl and adjust the flavour with more lemon, honey and rosemary, to taste.
5 While you fry the pancakes, leave a whisk in the bowl, as you need to stir the mixture thoroughly each time you use it.
6 Wipe a 25 cm non-stick frying pan with a thin layer of oil using a piece of paper towel and, when hot, pour in 50 ml of batter with a ladle or small measuring jug, swirling it around the pan to coat the base evenly.
7 Fry the pancake, flipping it over after 2–3 minutes or when one side is lightly browned, cook the other side, then transfer it to a plate.
8 Fry the rest of the batter in the same way, stacking the pancakes on the plate as you make them. Keep them warm.
9 Spread 2 heaped tablespoons of the ricotta filling over half of each pancake and fold them in half and then half again.
10 Serve straight away, drizzled with a little extra honey and sprinkled with the rosemary and crumbled chestnuts or pine nuts.
Recipe courtesy of Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi, extracted from Tuscany. Photography by Helen Cathcart © Hardie Grant