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.


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.

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