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France, together with wine lovers from all over the world will soon be celebrating a very special occasion - Beaujolais Nouveau Day which is celebrated on the third Thursday of November every year.

France has many wine regions and one of them is Beaujolais where they grow the beautiful purple coloured Gamay grapes, from which they produce the most famous Beaujolais Nouveau red wine.

A nouveaux wine is also the 'Vin de Primeur', a wine granted certification under the Appellation D'Origine Contrôlée and is released and marketed in the same year that the grapes are harvested. Usually this is about three weeks from the time the Gamay grapes with which it is made, are harvested.

Hence this very special day on which they celebrate this is known as Beaujolais Nouveau Day.

These wines are usually paler in colour because of the short time of maceration and fermentation process and are light, fruity wines. Other Nouveaux wines may also be red or rosé or white and come from other wine regions of France.

Beaujolais Day is a very big event and the traditional phrase used is 'Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrive' or 'The new Beaujolais has arrived'.

In the United States they promote the wine for Thanksgiving due to the fact that it coincides with this time of year.

The biggest producer of Beaujolais Nouveau is Duboeuf and his Nouveau features a colourful abstract design which he changes every year. He even has silk ties made each year with the label's design to release through select wholesalers and distributors.

So if you are thinking of travelling to France in November it may be that you would want to visit this region and enjoy the celebrations yourself! It is much quieter at this time of year and prices of accommodation and air fares etc are also lower. You will find much to choose from at French Connections whether for this region or anywhere else in France at a price to suit you.

This month I have chosen a recipe which I think will go splendidly with a glass of wine, or two! As I like to make the most of whatever is in season during the year I thought I would make something with chestnuts. These are so popular in France and are enjoyed in many ways.

The chestnut trees have also been used for centuries to make the most wonderful French furniture and if you have any pieces made from this you will know how beautiful they are.

So for this month's recipe I have chosen a really heavenly Chestnut Gateaux! This is a light sponge cake with the most delicious chestnut filling and topped with a gorgeous French chocolate icing. Now if that doesn't get your taste buds working, nothing will.

It is a recipe that you can also keep ready for Christmas as it is such a welcoming change from the usual cakes we have at this time of year plus it is such a seasonal offering!

It is not difficult to make and if you have a food mixer it is easier still. You will need a 6 – 7 inch cake tin with a loose bottom. Lightly grease the tin then line the bottom with greaseproof paper dust the sides with flour.

You will need chestnut puree which you can buy from most delicatessens and here in the U.K. It costs between £4 and £5 for 500g/1lb.

Chestnut GateauChestnut Gateau

Gateâu Aux Marrons (Chestnut Gâteau)

  • Ingredients
  • 3 Eggs (separate the whites and the yolks)
  • 4oz light brown castor sugar
  • 2oz plain or all purpose flour
  • 1oz cornflour
  • 1 level teaspoon baking powder

For the filling:-

  • 8oz sweetened chestnut puree
  • 2oz butter
  • Chocolate Icing: - 3oz plain choclolate; 1tablespoon rum or coffee; 2oz unsalted butter.

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 350F/Gas 4
  • Mix the egg yolks with the sugar until light and creamy
  • Sift together the flour, cornflour and baking powder
  • Whisk the egg whites until stiff (make sure your bowl is completely clean with no traces of grease or they will not become stiff)
  • Gently fold in the flour and the egg white, alternatively into the creamy yolk mixture.
  • Pour into your prepared tin and bake for about 30 – 40 minutes or until is firm to the touch.
  • Cool on a wire tray.

Prepare the filling by creaming the chestnut puree with 2oz softened butter.

Slice the cake when cold into either two or three layers and fill with the chestnut filling.

Now prepare the chocolate icing by melting the broken chocolate in a small dish over a pan of hot water. Add the rum and remove from the heat and beat in the softened butter.

Pour this lovely chocolate icing over your cake.

And there you have it – a really dreamy Chestnut Gateaux!

Bon Appétit