The irresistible Hungarian desserts: The Chestnut puree and the Gundel pancake

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Festival season is coming so it’s high time to introduce to the world some famous Hungarian desserts!

On my top list there are three, (actually according to the ingredients they belong to one family): the Chestnut puree, the Gundel pancake, and the Somlói galuska (sponge cake with raisins, walnuts, served with rum, chocolate sauce and whipped) all of them are divine!

Let’s start with he chestnut puree. It doesn’t matter summer or winter the chestnut purée or gesztenyepüré is always looked for in the confectionaries (unbelievable in a scorching hot summer people desire to eat this). However it is also wildly popular in France called as Mont Blanc but in Hungary when it is sweetened and served with whipped cream and cherries on top, (which is previously soaked in rum) there is no one who can resist to taste it. Allegedly it is originated from Italy (from around 1475, I doubt it and in that time it was yellow in color because the chestnuts were pickled) but today the Hungarian sweetened chestnut purée is inimitable burgundy-velvet coloured and amped up with chocolate cream and rum while somewhat of an acquired taste.

You can make your own chestnut purée if you want, but easier and time savier to use canned or jarred chestnut purée.
Prep Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 6 Hungarian Chestnut Purées

Ingredients: 900 grams (31.75 ounces) sweetened chestnut purée or homemade chestnut puree, 4 tablespoons (less or more to taste) confectioner sugar, 1 tablespoon dark rum, 1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped with 2 tablespoons superfine sugar, long-stemmed maraschino cherries for garnish and hot chocolate sauce

Preparation: In a medium bowl, mix together chestnut puree, confectioner sugar and rum (when it is sweetened than don’t add extra sugar). Pass through a ricer or vercelli press to make this purée a fluffy dessert. Portion out into serving dishes, so that make layers, first the purée then the whipped cream and again purée and cream and so on. Finally pour over hot chocolate cream and top or layer with whipped cream (sweetened) and cherry, if using. Chill it. Before serving sprinkle purée lightly with rum. 

Gundel pancake in three steps

This elegant and very delicious dessert’s origin goes back to the early 20 century when in 1910, Károly Gundel took over the Wampetics lease and operated the restaurant. His son János Gundel, who had learned the hospitality trade at other hotels and restaurants, took over the restaurant’s management. He created a dramatic and luxurious style that increased its popularity and brought him an international reputation. In 1939, the restaurant did the catering for the Hungarian contingent at 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. In 1949, the restaurant was nationalized and operated by state company Hungaria Hotels, but it was reopened by Americans Ronald S. Lauder and George Lang in 1992. One of Gundel’s signature dish is the Gundel pancake, a crepe with a filling made from rum, raisin, walnuts, lemon zest served with chocolate sauce.

Ingredients for 20 sweet pancakes, fried in advance

for the walnut filling:

150 g walnut
150 g raisin
150 g powdered sugar
200 ml cream
grated lemon rind
10 g vanilla sugar
100 ml rum, 1-2 tbs of flour


1. Ground the walnuts finely.
2. Soak the raisins in rum.
3. Cook walnut in the boiled cream under low temperature and wait until tickens. If not add 1 tablespoon of flour. But be carefull not let it burn.
Add raisins to cream with rum. Put aside until using.

For the chocolate sauce

Ingredients: 7 oz. bitter dark chocolate
2 tbsp. rum, 1 dl milk (optional)

Melt chocolate in a bowl (only before serving) over bain-marie or in the microvawe owen, add rum and milk. Mix well ingredients.

to serve Gundel pancake

1. Fill the hot pancakes with the walnut filling.
2. Poor the chocolate sauce over pancakes.
3. Flambé it with rum and serve it hot.

Somlói Galuska (Sponge Cake)
The somlói galuska means “Noodle from Somló”-is made of a sponge cake flavoured with raisins, walnuts, and served with rum, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. The origin of this recipe goes back to the end of 1950s, when the legendary chief steward of Gundel restaurant, Károly Gollerits made up the somlói galuska. Gollerits had already been the chief steward for 16 years at Gundel, when he got the idea to create a beautiful, creamy tiramisu kind of dessert. However he was the inventor, the realizer became the confectioner József Béla Szőcs, who after obtaining his diploma from the world famous Gerbeaud confectionery, started his career at Gundel. At the World Fair in 1958 (Belgium, Bruxelles) he made a big hit with his new dessert so that not surprisingly he was tributed with many awards. He named the dessert Somlói-after the river Fóti-Somlyó in Hungary, from where he was originated.
3 1/2 oz. raisins soaked in rum
3 1/2 oz. ground walnuts
whipped cream (made from 1 cup heavy cream)

for the sponge cake if you prepare but you can buy ready sponge cake as well:
6 eggs
6 tbsp. powdered sugar
3 1/2 oz. walnut
1 heaping tbsp. cocoa

Rum Sauce:
1 1/2 cups milk
5 oz. sugar
1 tsp. ground lemon peel
1 tsp. ground orange peel
2 tbsp. rum

Vanilla Cream:
1 1/2 cups milk
1 whole vanilla stick
2 egg yolks
2 oz. powdered sugar
1 tsp. corn starch

Chocolate Syrup:
7 oz.
bitter dark chocolate
2 tbsp. rum

1. To prepare the sponge cake, beat the egg yolks and sugar until stiff, add the flour, then the stiffly beaten egg whites. Combine. Divide the mixture in two. Mix the ground walnuts into one half and the cocoa into the other. Pour the mixes separately into a high baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake in a medium hot oven until ready. (the sponge cake should be done in about 12 minutes. To prevent the cake from collapsing, do not open the oven door.)

2. Boil the milk and the vanilla stick for 5 minutes, remove, add egg yolks, sugar, and the corn starch.

3. To prepare the rum syrup, cook the sugar in 1 cup milk, the lemon and orange peel for 15 minutes, then add rum.

4. Break the sponge cake into smaller pieces and combine. Place one layer of sponge cake in the bottom of a large glass or on a plate, sprinkle with the rum syrup, the ground walnuts, raisins, smooth some of the vanilla cream on top, then repeat the layers again.

Make sure that the top layer is a sponge cake. Sprinkle the top with cocoa, add whipped cream made from 1 cup heavy cream, and pour the chocolate syrup on top.

 Enjoy and “jó étvágyat”!!!

3 thoughts on “The irresistible Hungarian desserts: The Chestnut puree and the Gundel pancake

    Naz Kovacs said:
    November 2, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    This sounds so yum! I love chestnut puree! I don’t think I’ve had these desserts before, I have to ask my husband. Sound delicious though!

    spajzgirl responded:
    November 2, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Yoy should get some some frozen chestnut puree from Hungary because it is simply the best. I couldn’t find it in Belgium nor in France or Germany the same kind. They have onlysome in jars but they contain max 20 % of chestnuts….too bad!
    Maybe in Japan…they have some chestnut mixed with soy beans..
    how was work today?

    Naz Kovacs said:
    November 3, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Work was good thanks! I don’t know if I can find any chestnut puree over here, I’ll have to have a look 🙂 Hope you have a nice day!

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