After attending a masterclass with Stefano Manfredi and having my first introduction into the mysterious chestnut, I was determined to embrace my newfound knowledge of and make a dish at home.
It has been a while since a Cooking with Ma day so after deciding to make a chocolate and chestnut cake together, Ma suggested that we make two versions – Ma making one as per the recipe with butter, eggs and full cream milk and I would make a version using dairy free butter, soy milk and egg replacer.
I had fresh chestnuts so we roasted them for this recipe. I have to say that peeling chestnuts is bloody hard work – it’s not good on the fingernails either. In the masterclass we were taught to score each chestnut with an ‘X’ before roasting as this makes it easier to get the nut out of the hard outer layer and furry inner skin. Unfortunately I don’t think I did myself any favours because when I looked back at my notes, you are meant to score them on the flat side and I don’t think I did that will all of them. Whoopsie.
If I were to make this again (and I will because all the work pals I shared it with LOVED it) to save time I would use frozen chestnuts or even chestnut puree.
So we made both made our cakes. They went in to the oven together and we waited for them to come out. And then they had to cool to room temperature. Aside from being incredibly impatient, I was eager to know, would there be any real difference? In a word: no.
The consistency of the cake at room temperature is very different to that of it being refrigerated. At room temperature it was a soft and a bit mushy – not that impressive I thought. However after being in the fridge the cake almost takes on a fudgy texture. It looks very rich and decadent, thankfully it’s not as sickly sweet as it looks. I think it would make a really impressive dessert for a dinner party. And as a bonus, it will also suit your gluten free pals.
- 1 Tbs Dutch cocoa
- 200g pre-cooked, peeled chestnuts
- 2 Tbs caster sugar
- 100ml soy milk
- ¼ tsp vanilla bean paste
- 100g butter
- 200g dark chocolate
- 3 large eggs
- 75g caster sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
- Grease the inside of a 20cm springform tin and line the base with a disc of buttered baking parchment. Dust with 1 tablespoon cocoa and tip out the excess.
- Tip chestnuts into a small frying pan, add 2 tablespoons caster sugar and milk and cook over a low-medium heat for 5 minutes until the chestnuts start to soften.
- Remove from the heat and tip into the bowl of a food processor and whiz until smooth. Add vanilla bean paste and allow to cool.
- Place butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt either in the microwave on a low setting or over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir until smooth, remove from the heat and cool slightly.
- Whisk eggs and caster sugar until thick, pale and doubled in volume. Mix in the chestnuts until thoroughly combined. Add the melted chocolate mixture and fold in until smooth.
- Carefully pour the batter into the prepared tin, spread level and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 30 minutes until risen and the top has formed a light crust.
- Remove the cake from the oven and set the tin on a wire cooling rack and leave to cool to room temperature. The cake will sink and the crust might crack as it cools but this is part of the cake's appeal.
- Dust with cocoa and serve with creme fraiche.
Adapted from The Meat Free Monday Cookbook