Sunday, December 17, 2017

An Italian Chestnut Christmas Cake

  
   I've been doing a lot of holiday baking, both for the folks at CocoaPlanet and also just for home. I've been doing all sorts of seasonal  things from a Buche de Noel, to an Apple Beehive. A lot of the things I've been doing are French, but every now and then I like to dip into some recipes from the part of Italy (the North)  that my family hails from and try something traditional. Thus, the Chestnut Cake with Chocolate Ganache  decorated with Marron Glace aka, glazed Chestnuts. This cake is gluten free because it's made with chestnut flour. This cake can also be made without using dairy. It does however contain eggs. One thing I do love about this cake is that it is stupid easy to make. It is literally toss everything in a stand mixer and churn. No separating of eggs, no folding, no sifting, it doesn't get more low tech than that.
  
   I hadn't had this cake in ages and I had to go hunting around for a recipe that looked familiar, and I found it at Azelia's Kitchen. Azelia is originally from Portugal, now lives in England, and she has a recipe for a Chestnut Cake that takes me back to Italian family dinners from my childhood. So grab yourself some Chestnut flour (living out in the country I had to get mine mail-order) and a jar of chestnuts and try this delicious cake over the holiday season. I promise you won't regret it.

Chocolate Chestnut Cake

 

Here's What You Need:


The Cake:

1 cup minus 1 Tbs chestnut flour
3/4 cup minus 1 Tbs caster sugar (you can also use brown sugar if you prefer)
7 Tbs salted butter, or 1/2 cup of non dairy margarine at room temp.
3 eggs
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbs any sort of milk, dairy or non dairy

The Ganache:

8 oz of CocoaPlanet Vanilla Espresso chocolate broken into pieces
1/2 cup of cream
1 Tbs unsalted butter at room temperature

The Glazed Chestnuts:

8 oz of shelled cooked unsweetened chestnuts. I got a jar at my local Whole Foods.
2 cups of caster sugar
4 cups of water

Here's What To Do:

The Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line the bottom of a 9 x 2 inch cake pan with parchment paper.
Whisk all the dry ingredients together and put them into the bowl of a stand mixer.
Add in the butter, eggs, and milk.
Beat on medium low with the whisk attachment until every thing is well blended.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake tin.
Smooth the top with an offset spatula. Tap it against the side of the counter to get rid of air bubbles in the  batter and pop it into the oven.
Bake for about 18- 20 minutes. Stick a toothpick in the center of the cake. When it comes out clean, it's done.
Set it aside to cool. While the cake is cooling in the pan make your ganache.

The Ganache:

Break the chocolate into pieces and put into a medium bowl.
Heat the cream until it is just starting to bubble at the edges.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate in the bowl, making sure the chooclate pieces are all covered. Let it sit for about 5 minutes.
Whisk the now melted chocolate and the cream together and add in the unsalted butter.
Let the thick ganache mixture cool slightly before you use it.

Unmold The Cake:

Run a thin knife around the edges of the cooled cake in the pan loosening it.
Take a serving platter and place it on top of the cake.
Turn everything upside down so the plate is on the bottom. Remove the cake pan. RThe cake is sitting on the platter with a top covered with parchment paper.
Peel back the parchment paper and toss it.

Icing the Cake:

Pour the slightly cooled ganache over the top of the cake and using a frosting blade smooth everything out. The cake will be coated in shiny chocolate ganache. Let it dry at room temperature while you cany the chestnuts.

Marron Glace:

In a pot over medium high heat melt the sugar and water together.
Simmer the sugar syrup until it thickens slightly. You stiill want it to be easily pourable.
When the syrup is ready, put your cooked chestnuts  into a wide stainless steel skillet and pour the hot sugar syrup over them.
Turn the heat to low and simmer the chestnuts in the syrup  for about 30 minutes.
Turn the heat off at that point and let the chestnuts sit in the syrup for another 10 minutes.
After that, take them out of the syrup and set them on a plate to cool.
Decorate the cooled ganache covered cake with the cooled candied chestnuts.

 
   This was a birthday cake for one of the owners of CocoaPlanet. The cake is very moist and tender due to the high fat content of the chestnut flour, and absolutely a treat for any birthday. My husband has requested this as his birthday cake this year, so I'll be baking another one in a couple of weeks. Coming up next a few more Holiday treats. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

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