Saturday, June 30, 2007

Chocolate Chestnut Cake















What is comfort food without something equally as comforting for pud?

And something decadent.. I'd been scheming to use something in season for every part of a dinner I was planning and the dessert was not exempt from this clever notion.. but I wanted something different (and I wanted chocolate).

A trip to the Dunedin Farmers Market resulted in a beautiful bag of pears, some lovely ground cherries (cape gooseberries), a jar of feijoa marmalade AND chestnuts. But more on those later.. this IS the time of year for roasting chestnuts.

A glass of wine and the warmth of a fire.. bliss.

After some wine and a few of these roasted gems, I had another thought. Chestnuts, oft used in savoury treats, soup and even in ice cream, would be wonderful in some sweet baking. Ground fine or mashed into a puree, these would add body and a dense moistness to a flourless torte.. Heaps more nutty ideas here.

This was velveteen perfection. Not a speck of flour in sight and leavened only with the whipped egg whites: a half pound of best 70% cocoa chocolate (or more) , 3-4 eggs (3 x-large or 4 large), 100g caster sugar, half pound roasted chestnuts (lightly roasted and let to steam in a tea towel for easier peeling) and a bit of milk or cream to make a mash.. you could add a bit of finely grated orange peel or a bit of liqueur but I don't bother. I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to chocolate.

A full out contradiction in texture.. dense yet foamy, luxuriously and intensely chocolaty, with mild earthy chestnut undertones, it positively melts in the mouth. Accompanied by a nice port, a nut based Italian liqueur or a coffee (corretto or plain).. indulgence defined.

2 comments:

Shaun said...

Mary - Many French and Italian cake recipes I have read call for the use of chestnuts. They do indeed add a velvetiness to cakes, making them quite sumptuous. I thought about buying chestnuts at a greengrocer's before I left NZ but thought against it because I didn't know where they had come from...You have confirmed that we actually do have chestnut trees in New Zealand (I really had no idea). I seem to second guess myself a lot these days.

Mary said...

Hi Shaun,
Thanks for dropping by!
There are most definitely chestnut trees in NZ! I am not sure how far afield that Central chestnuts would be travelling and where (aside from farmers markets) they might be available, but they are certainly well worth seeking out.