Fergus's Chestnut Tarts from Outlander novel Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

Fergus's Chestnut Tarts from Dragonfly in Amber

"What on earth is that?"  I peered over his shoulder, and gasped when I saw the signature at the foot of the letter.  James Stuart, by the grace of God King of England and Scotland.

"Bloody Christ!  It worked, then!"  Swinging around, I spotted Fergus, crouched on a stool in front of the fire, industriously stuffing pastries into his face.  "Good lad," I said, smiling at him.  He grinned back at me, cheeks puffed like a chipmunk's with chestnut tart.

"We got it from the papal messenger," Jamie explained, coming to the surface long enough to realize I was there.  "Fergus took it from the bag while he was eating supper in a tavern.  He'll spend the night there, so we'll have to put this back before morning.  No difficulties there, Fergus?"

The boy swallowed and shook his head.  "No, milord.  He sleeps alone -- not trusting his bedmates not to steal the contents of his bag." He grinned derisively at this.  "The second window on the left, above the stables." He waved an airy hand, the deft, grubby fingers reaching for another pie.  "It is nothing, milord."

Dragonfly in Amber, chapter 13

Fergus is in the house, and I can barely contain myself!

I like some mischief in little boys --  and so, our little would-be aristocrat, with his nose upturned and imperious disdain plain on his face, has been a favourite of mine from the start.

But somewhere along the way, the young imp grew into a handsome man with a slick of black hair and a certain je ne sais quoi that has turned my maternal affection into a full blown crush.

Let's just say I'd be happy to lend Fergus a hand any time of day or night.

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fegus-chestnut-tart

As for today's food, these chestnut tarts are a seasonal, fictional and historical treat all wrapped up in a neat little almond shortcrust.  Why not set aside some of the chestnuts destined for your Thanksgiving stuffing to make a batch of these as well?

Heck, some of us may even be able to find locally grown chestnuts.  Fergus's tarts would have been made from European Chestnuts but American Chestnuts, although smaller, are known for their sweeter nut.  The only variety I could find in my little corner of the world are Europen Chestnuts grown in Korea.  Strange, but true in the often-whacky modern world of food distribution.

One last note before you scroll down to the recipe -- it's scarier than it looks -- sure it's long, but there are relatively few ingredients, and the instructions are straightforward.  Give yourself at least 3 hours to complete it from start to finish, or make the pastry the night before to split up the work.

Also check out the "New School" and "Old School" tips listed after the recipe.  They'll help you to make things easier or more authentic, whichever you prefer.

lima-lined-crust roast-chestnut-crust baked-chestnut-tart

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