When we did our Christmas shop, we picked up a bag of chestnuts – something you’d only really see in the shops around that time of year.
We had thoughts of a lovely Christmas lunch, followed by a walk in the snowy countryside and then coming home to roast the chestnuts in our wood-burner. Chance would be a fine thing! Three weeks on, the bag of chestnuts was still in our vegetable rack waiting for its big day.
I had a look through my cookbooks and online and came across a recipe for a chocolate caramel chestnut cake. The original recipe has a brandy syrup which I substituted with rum. It also calls for edible gold dust to brush on the chestnut garnish – not something I had to hand! It looks so pretty that I’d definitely plan ahead and order some if I was making the cake for Christmas or another special occasion.
This recipe looks like a big, time-consuming job but as its author, Dorie Greenspan, says:
“Because every element of the cake can be made ahead, you can work on it in stages. The filled and glazed cake can be kept in the refrigerator for a day, but add the chestnut garnish right before serving.”
“The ganache is best if refrigerated overnight. The glaze needs a 4-hour rest and the cake, if it’s been seriously chilled, needs some serious time on the counter to come to room temperature – serve it cold, and you won’t get the full measure of pleasure from the ganache so plan ahead.”
To roast the chestnuts (in an oven, if you don’t have the quintessential ‘open fire’), preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6. Mark a small cross on the flat side of each using a small sharp kitchen knife making sure you pierce the skin but not cut the nut inside. You could also pierce a few times with the fork. Put the nuts on a baking sheet, cut side up, and cook for about 10-20 minutes, turning a couple of times until the skins open. Peel while still warm.
The completed cake looks very impressive with it’s height, multiple layers and glossy finish. Tasty too – well worth the time and effort!