This cake is flourless and fudgy, and the perfect way of using those tins of Chestnut puree/tinned chestnuts that you maybe brought from France (or Sainsbury's) and fancied making into a stuffing at Christmas, or considered cooking with your sprouts. Dark chocolate and chestnuts are a perfect combination, the sweet, woody, nutty flavour of the nut complementing the bitter notes of the chocolate. Every time I go to France I can never resist buying a tin of the Clement Faugier Creme de Marron, or chestnut puree, because is it s a family tradition and because I love the tin (it boasts a little cheerful man made of chestnuts - his head a chestnut and his legs long, chestnut leaves). Every holiday we had in France as children (growing up near Plymouth the Roscoff ferry made holiday options for my parents easy. We did alternate years between French camping and a rainy Dorset campsite owned by my a friend of my Dad's) we always stuffed the car on the way home with cheap camembert and bordeaux (for my dad) and cans of creme de marron for us kids and my mum. We ate it spread on plain sponge, whipped with cream and stuffed into meringue sandwiches, and swirled through creme fraiche or yoghurt. After reading a recipe in the River Cottage Christmas book for a flourless chocolate chestnut cake I have found a new use for it too.
I have changed the recipe a little, inevitably, as I wanted to use brown sugar and chestnut puree, rather than cooked whole chestnuts as they suggest. If you don't have puree you can cook 250g of tinned chestnuts in 250g of milk until soft and then puree them until smooth.
Makes 1 cake (8 or 9 inch tin) Feeds 8-10
500g chestnut puree
250g unsalted butter
4 eggs, separated
100g brown sugar
A good pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 160. Grease and line a 25 cm springform cake tin.
Melt the chocolate with the butter and salt in a bain marie, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile mix the egg yolks with the sugar and stir to combine.
Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until they form smooth and creamy peaks.
Mix the chocolate mixture into the yolks, then stir in the chestnut puree. Finally fold in the whisked egg white, gently incorporating to make sure you don’t knock out all of the air.
Scoop into the cake tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, until just set but still with a little wobble in the centre.
Serve warm (in whcih case be careful when slicing as it is soft and moussey) or cold (in which case it is firm and fudgy). I like it with a generous scoop of mascarpone.