Sometimes called flourless cakes, I think these rich and creamy beauties are fairly easy to put together. The trick is not over baking them. Something of which I tend to be guilty. This particular version is supposed to be very soft and moussey when served warm. It sets up more firmly when it cools, but is still creamy. This is more of an adult dessert, less sweet and more earthy and complex. That said, my 5 year old raved about it. (Or maybe she was just raving about my improvised creme fraiche...)
I've never cooked or baked with chestnuts before. I'm sure home roasted are the best, but I had to make do with the obnoxiously expensive jarred kind. I mean, $12 for a 210 g jar? Sheesh. But I had them sitting in the pantry for a couple months; better use them up and what better way than to add chocolate. The chestnut based recipes out there are fairly simple. Chestnut cream, puree or just cooked chestnuts and milk, eggs, chocolate, sugar. They usually call for caster sugar for dissolving ease I'm sure. I used a blend of palm sugar and powdered sugar. Palm or coconut sugar dissolves pretty well in a liquid so I thought I'd try it out. Had to play with it a bit since different sugars obviously weigh differently for the same volumetric amount. Use a good chocolate for something like this. I wasn't sure how it would turn out but the result is very decadent. And it's gluten free for those who are sensitive. Thank goodness we don't have to deal with that too!
Update: I prefer the torte made with the 210g jar of chestnuts. More light and luscious and less cakey. But that's entirely personal taste.
Chestnut and Chocolate Truffle Torte
250 g dark chocolate in chunks (I used three 85g bars - close enough)
unsalted butter, in cubes (chocolate, of all things, benefits from a touch of salt - oh, and that's a couple tbsp more than a cup and I just used the 1 cup)
250 g peeled, cooked chestnuts (My jar was 210 g - again, close enough at that price!)
250 ml whole milk (about 1 cup)
4 eggs, separated
125 g caster sugar (I used the palm and powdered sugars and ended up adding a squirt of stevia because I thought it needed a touch more sweetness - the difference in weights I'm sure)
(My powdered sugar had a pinch of cinnamon in it from another recipe. I like how it turned out and would add a pinch again next time.)
Preheat oven to 325º and grease and line a 9 inch springform pan. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a pan over very gentle heat. In a separate pan, heat the chestnuts and milk just to boiling. Puree with a stick blender or in a food processor until mostly smooth. Put the egg yolks in a large bowl and combine with sugar. Stir in the chocolate and chestnut mixtures until you have a smooth, blended batter. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and gently fold them into the batter. Use one portion to lighten it and then fold in the rest.
Tranfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. The cake should be just set but still have a slight wobble. Because of my previous over baking experiences, I simply turned off the oven at the 25 minute mark and let it slowly coast to done.
If you want to serve the cake warm, leave to cool a little, then release the pan and slice carefully – it will be very soft and moussey. Or leave to go cold, when it will have set firm. It's good to serve with a trickle of double cream, especially when warm, but it is also delicious unadulterated.
adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall