I’ll be the first to admit that I have a thing for chestnuts. Sadly it’s not the most popular thing to eat in Australia (at least not so much here in the West) but having grown up in Japan where there is a national reverence for all things chestnut related (see my Mont Blanc blog), I love them!
I had a go recently at making my own Marron Glace as per the recipe tried and tested by Not Quite Nigella. Unfortunately I was soon to discover that such things should be left to artisans. Whole, perfectly peeled and successfully glace’ed chestnuts were the exception rather than the rule in my kitchen. I was left with a lot of crumbly (albeit very delicious) bits of chestnut which ended up being sampled well before the glace process actually ended. Ah well…
Giving up on fresh chestnuts for the time being, I picked up a can of chestnut puree from a curious little Italian grocer in East Fremantle (Lopresti & Son). I am so glad I went in there as they stock some amazing produce at very recession friendly prices. The lovely Italian lady (who turned out to be Mrs Lopresti) at the counter asked what I planned to do with the puree and I confidently announced that I was going to whip up a chocolate and chestnut cake. “Ahh. Nice!” she nodded with approval. I wasn’t sure if that was the plan but I smiled back like a Masterchef contestant; all full of blind optimism.
Later, on surfing the net, I discovered that chocolate and chestnut is a fairly popular combination of flavours in Italy, which certainly explained Mama Lopresti’s enthusiasm. I sourced a simple recipe from the ABC and gave it a whirl.
The cake (which I only later realised is gluten free) was velvety smooth thanks to the chestnut puree. In terms of flavour, there was no noticeable chestnut taste but I think the puree’s role is mainly to help produce a gorgeous, light cake that packs a chocolate punch without making a huge calorific dent in your diet. It’s a winner all round!
Chocolate and Chestnut Cake
100 grams chocolate
25 grams butter
125 grams chestnut puree
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons sugar
2 egg whites
To make: Combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then mix in the egg yolks. Melt the chocolate (in microwave on low for a few minutes, stirring between minutes) and fold in the chestnut puree. Add chocolate mix to the butter mix and stir well. Beat egg whites until nice and peaky then fold mixture through the chocolate mix. The cake mixture should be nice and light. Pour mix into a greased small round cake tin (or small loaf tin) and bake on 175C for 40 minutes. Allow to cool completely and serve with ice cream or cream.