I noted this recipe with excitement when I first bought How to Be a Domestic Goddess; I have fond memories of peeling chestnuts hot from the open fire as a child and savouring the effort and sore fingers with delight at the nutmeat within. The recipe calls for unsweetened chestnut puree; presumably a tinned substance available at specialty stores in the UK. I had no luck finding such a product here in Australia however I did recently come across a chestnut paste in the cluttered aisles of an Asian grocery store. Although it had sugar and soy flour in it, I decided to use it and give the cake a go; it was the closest thing I have found thus far.
The cake itself is almost brownie-like, with a dense, fudgy texture, despite the long cooking time and the worryingly large cracks that cross the surface of the cake. I was sorry to discover that I could not taste the chestnut paste at all, although this is likely to be due to the paste I used than the recipe itself. I hope this is the case as I will continue to look for a tin of unsweetened chestnut puree to give this cake another attempt. Despite this lack of chestnut flavour, the chocolate flavour was rich and deep, aided no doubt by the chestnut paste. If you are a chestnut fan anf you can find the elusive chestnut puree, do give this a go. It’s a lovely cake with a delicious texture; perfect for an indulgent dessert at the end of an elegant dinner.
- 435g tin of unsweetened chestnut puree
- 125g softened butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbs dark rum
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 250g melted chocolate (milk or dark)
- pinch of salt
- 50g caster sugar
- 28g light muscovado (or brown) sugar
Preheat your oven to 180° and grease and line a 22cm springform tin.
In a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, beat in the salt. Add the caster sugar gradually, beating all the while, to form glossy peaks. Then sprinkle over the muscovado sugar and beat in slowly or stir in with a spatula.
In a second bowl, beat the chestnut puree with the soft butter until fluffy, then add the vanilla, egg yolks, rum and melted chocolate. Fold in the egg whites, gently but thoroughly, one third at a time.
Pour into the tin and cook for 45 minutes, until the cake has risen and is firm on top. It will appear dry with huge cracks on top but it will not be dry once cooled.
Cool in the tin for 20 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack. Just before serving, dust with icing sugar and cut into about 10-12 generous pieces.