Chestnut pancakes filled with ricotta & lemon

Chestnut pancakes filled with ricotta & lemon

Necci alla Caldesi

By
From
Tuscany
Serves
6
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

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.

The naturally sweet, nutty flavour of chestnut flour makes perfect pancakes, which can be made in advance, kept well covered in the fridge, then heated quickly in a microwave or wrapped in foil to reheat in the oven. They are gluten-free and low in sugar (at least they are until our son Giorgio spreads his with Nutella and Giancarlo adds slices of banana). For an everyday recipe you could leave out the chestnuts, raisins and rum filling, but for a dinner party go the whole hog: the finished plates look very pretty with the rosemary and pine nuts.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

For the pancake batter

Quantity Ingredient
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

Quantity Ingredient
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

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
runny honey, to drizzle
small handful rosemary leaves, finely chopped
50g crumbled toasted chestnuts or toasted pine nuts

Method

  1. To make the pancake batter, whisk the eggs in a bowl with the salt, sugar and flour. Gradually add 250 ml of the milk until you have a very smooth batter the consistency of runny, single (light) cream. 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.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the filling ingredients in a bowl and adjust the flavour with more lemon, honey and rosemary, to taste.
  3. While you fry the pancakes, leave a whisk in the bowl, as you need to stir the mixture thoroughly each time you use it. 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. 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. Fry the rest of the batter in the same way, stacking the pancakes on the plate as you make them. Keep them warm.
  4. Spread 2 heaped tablespoons of the ricotta filling over half of each pancake and fold them in half and then half again. Serve straight away, drizzled with a little extra honey and sprinkled with the rosemary and crumbled chestnuts or pine nuts.
Tags:
Italy
Italian
Caldesi
Tuscany
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