INGREDIENTS

1.1 lbs / 500g satsuma-imo (Japanese sweet potato)
110g sugar (about 30 to 35% of the volume of the potatoes)
3 tbsp mirin
1 jar of Marrons Glacés
Syrup from the jar, to taste
1/3 tsp salt

Kurikinton (creamy sweet potatoes with candied chesnuts)

While not technically a dessert, this sweet concoction of creamy satsuma-imo (Japanese sweet potatoes) and candied chestnuts is served as part of the traditional Oshogatsu New Year's osechi-ryori feast. The intense flavor of the chestnuts marries well with Japanese sweet potatoes, which have a similar flavor. It's important to use satsuma-imo, not regular sweet potatoes, for this dish. The name, "chestnut gold puree" is the epitome of richness, and its bright gold color symbolizes wealth.

Peeling, boiling and candying chestnuts is time consuming, so I make use of a shortcut: a jar of French Marrons Glacés, which have a similar texture and the right flavor of Japanese kuri.

Peel the sastuma-imo and cut into 1/2-inch disks. Soak in a large bowl of water for 7-8 hours. If the water turns cloudy or dark, change the water once. Place the satsuma-imo in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a toothpick. Drain, reserving the water. Add 1/3 of the sugar and mash with a potato masher until smooth, adding cooking liquid as needed.

Add the remainder of the sugar, salt and chestnut syrup to taste. Add pot liquid until the mixture is like a cream soup. Continue cooking over relatively high heat until a channel remains when a spatula is run along the bottom of the skillet.

Add the marrons glacés and heat thoroughly, adding more syrup to taste. It should be intensely sweet and have the flavor of chestnuts. Transfer to a bowl to cool. This can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge. Serve in communal bowls.

Serves 6-8