We’re well into December now and I’m happy to say, the festive season is upon us. If you’re hosting, I have the most delicious mushroom & chestnut vegetarian sausage rolls to help your party go with a swing. Or if you’re invited out and need a dish to take along, these will do the job perfectly.
Well I haven’t managed to enter the Forever Nigella Event, the brain child of Sarah from Maison Cupcake, for a couple of months, so I thought it was about time I did. The theme this month chosen by Arthi at Soul Curry is Iced Dreams. I don’t have an ice-cream maker. Making it by hand conjures up not so fond memories of lots of beating, in and out of the freezer and then ending up with ice crystals anyway. So the idea of ice-cream didn’t really appeal. However, looking through my trusted copy of How to Be a Domestic Goddess, I came across a recipe for Chestnut Ice-Cream Meringue Cake and no churning was needed. Lush, rich and sumptuous, this seemed a very apt dessert for a Nigella challenge. As it happened, when I went to put the finished cake in the freezer, I realised I had no room anyway. That was fine, it went into the fridge instead and became a chilled cake, which, luckily for me is permitted. As usual, I ended up doing something a little different to the actual recipe: first off, I only made half the amount – I didn’t want to make it too sweet so used less sugar than stated, I added a bit of cocoa and used creme fraiche rather than cream. I also used cardamom sugar so omitted the vanilla.
This is what I did:
- Whisked 3 egg whites until the soft peak stage.
- Gradually whisked in 120g of cardamom sugar (caster sugar) until the mixture was stiff.
- Whisked in 1 tbsp cocoa.
- Stirred in 1 tsp cider vinegar.
- Lined 2 baking trays with baking parchment and drew 3 saucer sized circles – about 15 cm (which spread to about 17 cm when cooked) on the parchment, only just managing to squeeze two onto one sheet.
- Divided the mixture between the three circles and spread to fill them.
- Baked at 150C for 30 minutes then turned the oven down to 100C for a further 35 minutes.
- Turned the oven off and left in until cold.
- Beat 1/2 a can of sweetened chestnut puree (about 220g) with 2 tbsp of rum and 40g icing sugar until smooth.
- Stirred in 300ml creme fraiche (home made).
- Placed a meringue circle on a plate and spread with 1/3 of the chestnut cream.
- Topped this with another meringue circle and spread with another 1/3 of the cream.
- Topped with the final meringue and spread the last 1/3 of cream over the top.
- Shaved about 10g of 35% milk chocolate over the top to decorate.
- Placed in the fridge to set and chill (about 4 hours).
The finished cake tasted heady and ambrosial with the tropical rum flavour very much to the fore. It was rich and creamy. This made a good contrast to the crunchy meringue layers. CT summed it up with one word – delicious! Sliced into eight pieces, one slice was certainly enough. There was one downside though, as illustrated in this picture: after the first slice the crunch disappeared from the meringues as the moist mixture was slowly absorbed. I guess this wouldn’t have happened if I’d been able to freeze it as instructed. Served immediately as a dinner party dessert, this would have been superb.
There seems to have been a recent spate of Dan Lepard’s chestnut brownies appearing on food blogs and I didn’t want to be left behind! We were visiting friends for dinner and I thought these would make a rather nice after dinner treat – or at least I hoped they would.
I had very kindly been sent another bag of Chocolate by Trish that I wanted to try out – 74% cocoa solids this time, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity. For those that didn’t catch the last batch I had from her, take a look at this ganache recipe.
When I went to the cupboard to get out my jar of organic chestnuts that had been lurking there for quite some time, I was surprised to find it was a jar of chestnut puree. Oh well, never mind, I would adapt the original recipe to take the puree into account and do without a contrast in textures. As I was somewhat stretched for time, I used my all in one pan method to make these rather than whisking the egg whites separately etc etc. This is what I did:
- Melted 175g unsalted butter with 200g 74% dark Chocolate by Trish in a large bowl over hot water.
- Stirred in 150g dark brown sugar until all the lumps had been incorporated.
- Beat in 240g jar of sweetened chestnut puree (could have eaten spoonfuls of this on it’s own it was so delicious, but managed to resist).
- Beat in 2 duck eggs.
- Stirred in 100g wholemeal spelt and a pinch of salt.
- Poured into a 9″ square cake thingie and baked at 175C for 20 minutes.
- Left to cool, then cut into 36 small squares.
Nearly every new brownie recipe I make I think it’s the best one I’ve ever done and this was no exception. The smell of the mixture baking was wonderful and each dense choclatey square smelt wonderfully of both chocolate and chestnuts. A crisp top followed by a deep dark smoothness, that isn’t fudgy or gooey but is moist and uncakelike – it melts on the tongue and lingers in the mouth. This is rich for a brownie, all that lovely 74% chocolate and it’s not too sweet either. I think I got lucky with this puree, it was thick and almost creamy and tasted of marron glace – a flavour which was very much there in the finished brownie, playing its own role alongside the good strong taste of chocolate.
Most of these disappeared during a prolonged post dinner fireside chat, but I had thoughtfully kept a couple back for home consumption. We had these cold from the kitchen the next day and they were still delicious. They were differently delicious with a new fudgy consistency which was very moreish – unfortunately that was our lot.
The dark Chocolate by Trish didn’t disappoint. I couldn’t help but try a few of these buttons. They had a fragrant fruity aroma which was the first note to hit the tongue followed by varied spicy notes. I had to restrain myself from eating more as they were so good. Like the milk chocolate buttons these melted beautifully and being such a dark chocolate gave a really rich quality to the brownies. Luckily, there were some buttons left over and I’m planning to use these to make some chocolates for Christmas.
A celebratory cake was needed for the 1st anniversary of CT’s blog Radix. So, it’s chocolate and chestnuts again! This time with the added bonus of chilli – our own dried and crushed “fatalli”, a particularly vicious yellow variety. I used the already tried and tested Nigella recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess. As I had half a tin of chestnut puree left over from the biscuits, I made only half the quantity, which made quite a nice sized cake for two.
- Melted 100g 85% dark chocolate and left to cool slightly.
- Creamed 75g unsalted butter with 25g dark brown sugar until light and fluffy.
- Mixed in 200g (or thereabouts) of sweetened chestnut puree.
- Added 3 egg yolks, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tsp brandy and the chocolate and stirred until combined.
- Whisked 3 eggs whites until stiff, then added 25g caster sugar and whisked again.
- Folded egg whites into the cake mix 1/3 at a time.
- Poured into a 2lb silicone loaf thingy and baked at 180C for 30 mins.
- Left to cool for 20 mins, then turned out and dusted with cocoa powder.
It just seems the right time of year for chestnuts – I can’t get them out of my mind or my stomach! I saw this recipe over at Mainly Baking a couple of weeks ago and knew I was going to have to make these. Well now I’ve gone and done it. Suelle in her turn had got the recipe from Dan Lepard. I’ve obviously been somewhat slow on the uptake as I hadn’t really come across this baker before but will not be so remiss in future.
- Creamed 200g unsalted butter with 150 light muscovado sugar.
- Stirred in (took quite a bit of stirring) 200g sweetened chestnut puree.
- Added 200g wholemeal flour and 1/4 tsp baking powder.
- Combined mixture until a dough had formed, then put this into the fridge for 1/2 an hour to settle.
- Rolled dough out to 1/2 cm and cut into small (about 5 cm) rounds – I made 24.
- Placed onto a lined baking sheets and baked in a preheated oven at 180C for 17 mins until golden (should have been at a 150C for 35 minutes, but I didn’t read the recipe very carefully and only discovered this later).
- Realised when I took these out of the oven that I was meant to sprinkle cocoa over the biscuits before cooking – oops. I quickly did this whilst they were still hot and this seemed to work well. Actually, I think this was better as there was no danger of burning the cocoa.
- Transferred onto a wire rack and left to cool.
- Meanwhile melted 100g 85% chocolate (think I will use 70% when next making these as slightly too chocolatey for my taste).
- Mixed in 50g butter, a sloosh of cream and a slug of brandy.
- Finally mixed this together with 100g sifted icing sugar.
- Sandwiched cooled biscuits with a generous layer of chocolate cream.
Yesterday afternoon we were going to friends for tea so I was presented with another opportunity to make something chocolatey. I was rather inspired by the white chocolate cupcakes at Chocolate Teapot and thought I would make these. However, I was also inspired by the chestnut and chocolate combination over at Mainly Baking and I remembered I had some leftover chestnut puree that needed using up – the white chocolate cupcakes would have to wait for another day.
- Creamed 4oz Rapadura (or use ordinary sugar) with 4oz unsalted butter.
- Stirred in 2 heaped tbsp chestnut puree.
- Beat in 2 eggs.
- Sieved in 5oz flour (1/2 wholemeal, 1/2 white spelt), 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tbsp cocoa.
- Mixed in 2 tbsp yogurt.
- Spooned mixture into 12 cupcake cases and baked at 180C (gas 4) for 17 mins.
- Melted 100g bar 35% milk chocolate with 2 tbsp chestnut puree and 2 tbsp double cream.
- Stirred until smooth, then spooned on top of the cooled cupcakes.
- Scattered some toasted almond flakes over the top.
A chocolate log blog without a chocolate log recipe? With the Christmas season in full swing, pressure has been mounting to correct this omission. What to bake? Actually, it wasn’t that difficult, a recipe I’ve been wanting to try has been lurking in my pile of dusty magazines & cuttings since 2005 – better late than never! It’s a chocolate chestnut roulade from I’m no longer sure where.