The “Castanyada” or Chestnut Fest is a popular festival in Catalonia which is celebrated on the vigil of All Souls Day feast: the night of October 31st. Just like the Anglo-Saxon tradition Halloween, the “castanyada” comes from an old Catalan funeral ritual feast. This is a meal that consists of eating chestnuts, “panellets”, sweet potatoes, candied fruit, and drinking muscatel, a very sweet wine.
What are panellets? Panellets are small round and very sweet cakes whose main ingredient is sugar, and there are many variations of it. The most typical one is the almonds or pine nuts panellet, but you can find many other delicious panellets with coconut, lemon, chocolate…
It seems that the custom of eating these kind of foods comes from the fact that during the vigil of All Souls Day, the dead chimes played incessantly until dawn; friends and relatives helped the ringers to perform this hard work, and all together they ate these foods, highly energetic, not to falter.
Around this celebration, castanyeres sell on the street hot roasted chestnuts usually wrapped in newspaper (“paperina”). La Rambla of Barcelona is the ideal place to find castanyeres and participate with this Catalan tradition of buying a very hot paperina full of delicious cooked chestnuts.
For 12-14 units:
150 g of sweet potato
150 g pine nuts
170 g of ground almonds
1 egg yolk
Sugar 130 g
Boil sweet potatoes in a pan with water for 20 minutes over low heat. Remove and let it cool. Peel the sweet potatoes and mash in a bowl to make a puree. Add the sugar and grated lemon rind and mix (to make a dough by hand). To dry the pasta, add the egg yolk and stir. Stir in ground almonds and league all ingredients.
Make small balls of sweet potato (12-14), batter it with pine nuts and place them in a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake it at 180°C for 15 minutes. Remove and serve on a plate.