Typical Christmas delicacies in Aquitaine
From the beginning of December onwards, certain families continue the "guinette" tradition using cherries preserved in eau-de-vie following the June harvest.
Each cherry is soaked in a fondant and then in chocolate melted over a low heat, before being placed on a bed of chocolate vermicelli. They are then kept at a cool temperature (in days gone by in the cellar, nowadays in the fridge) for two weeks to allow the fondant to be transformed into alcohol, before being brought out for Christmas to be enjoyed by one and all.
Traditional desserts: Torche aux Marrons
This old recipe will taste even more delicious with chestnuts that you've picked yourself!
Peel the chestnuts ahead of time. Cook them in a pan for 40 minutes with 1 litre of milk, 1 vanilla pod and 150g of sugar, then pass the chestnuts through a vegetable mill to obtain vermicelli-like strands. Arrange carefully on a plate in the shape of a dome or crown. Whip the pasteurised cream in a bowl with vanilla-flavoured sugar until it has reached a thick consistency, then place on top of the dome.
A symbolic dessert: Christmas Star (Etoile de Noël) with chestnuts and whisky
Melt 250g of chocolate in a bain-marie. Remove from the heat and add 125g of butter. Whip the mixture with 400g of vanilla-flavoured chestnut purée in a salad bowl with 5cl of whisky. Line a star-shaped mould with transparent film. Pour in the mixture, spread evenly over the entire surface and place in the freezer for three hours. When you're ready to serve, sprinkle unsweetened cocoa powder on top of a thin coating of crystallised sugar.
An original dessert:
In the Ariège, they make chocolate figurines (santons) which represent people from different towns and villages (e.g. "la bethmalaise", a female inhabitant from Bethmale, a village renowned for its cheese; and "la couseranaise", a woman from Le Couserans, a small area of the Ariège département).