Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake

 I'm finishing up baking through Dorie Greenspan's great book Baking from My Home to Yours and most of the remaining recipes either require special ingredients, are time-intensive to bake,  serve a large number of people, or don't store well.  The Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake fits ALL of those criteria!

Finding chestnut puree was difficult but we accidentally stumbled on it in a specialty store in Seattle while visiting my son.  We ended up mailing it home as TSA has restrictions on what can go into carry-on luggage!  We found whole chestnuts here in Rochester at our well-stocked Wegmans.

I started baking this the day before I was to serve it, spending lots of time shaving chocolate (which is somehow very satisfying--much easier than chopping onions!)

I made a lovely caramel which was lightly flavored with cinnamon by adding a cinnamon stick while cooking.  Then the caramel is poured over a mixture of milk and bittersweet chocolate, stirred, and chilled overnight.

The cake is baked in a 9" square pan and includes the chestnut puree.  Once cooled, the cake is sliced horizontally into three layers using a long serrated knife (or a not-quite-long-enough serrated knife in my case!).

Slicing into layers
A layer ready for the syrup
A syrup made from brandy and brown sugar is drizzled over two of the layers and the ganache filling is spread between the layers onto which chopped chestnuts are sprinkled.  The remaining ganache covers the cake's sides and tops.  One thing I love about Dorie's recipes is that the proportions are right:  if she says to cover the sides and top of the cake, you can be sure there is enough ganache to do it!

Ganache on the middle layer
Then chopped chestnuts on the middle layer
Ganache over all
That gets chilled and then the bittersweet chocolate glaze, which was made four hours before, is poured over, and chilled till the glaze sets.  I almost had a disaster at this point as the whole cake nearly slid off the flat platter I had it on as I was moving it to the "cold room" to chill.

The bittersweet chocolate glaze
The final decoration of chestnuts makes this cake beautiful!

The decorative chestnuts add the final touch!
The guests were amazed and delighted and it was a fine success.  As I had been snacking on the various components, I already knew that it would be sophisticated and delicious.
A view of the cake eaten halfway.

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