Chocolate and Chestnut Cake
(Torta al Cioccolato e le Castagne)


by Chef Laura Frankel,

Chestnuts are a staple in Autumnal Italian and French desserts. They are slightly sweet and starchy with a mild flavor. I love working with chestnuts and do not mind roasting and peeling them. Chestnuts are easily found peeled, cooked and kosher.


1 cup roasted, shelled and skinned chestnuts (7 1/2-ounce jar) peeled whole
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil
11 1 /4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
5 large eggs, separated
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour


Place chestnuts, 3/4 cup sugar, vanilla bean (seeds and pod) and sea salt in a large saucepan and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let chestnuts cool in syrup, then drain.

Put rack in center position and heat oven to 350°. Grease a 9 1/2-inch spring form pan or deep fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.

Place the chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, melt chocolate with remaining 3/4 cup sugar and oil, stirring, until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and whisk mixture until cooled to lukewarm (not hot, take your time or the batter will break), then whisk in egg yolks and flour.

In a clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gently fold whites into batter in 2 additions.

Pour batter into prepared pan; gently press chestnuts into top. Bake until top of cake has formed a thin crust, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack for 5 minutes, then release from pan and let cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar and cocoa powder.


Yield: about 10 servings

Recipes: Desserts, Torte, Chocolate, Chestnut, Parve, Kosher

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