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Chestnut Chocolate Layer Cake

This rich, chocolatey cake is best when served the day it is made. You can bake the cake in the morning and finish it later in the day. It can stand in a cool place for about three hours before serving. Marrons glaces, whole candied chestnuts, are available in specialty food stores.

  • Yield: Makes one 9-inch layer cake

Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2001

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter, for pans
  • 14 ounces fresh chestnuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup sifted cake flour, (not self-rising)
  • 2/3 cup sifted chestnut flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces very finely ground semisweet chocolate
  • Pastry Cream for Chestnut Chocolate Layer Cake
  • Chocolate Ganache for Chestnut Chocolate Layer Cake
  • 8 marrons glaces (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-by-2-inch round professional baking pans, and line bottoms with parchment. Butter parchment, and set aside. Using a chestnut knife or a small paring knife, make an incision about 1/8 inch deep through the shell and into the flesh of each chestnut almost all the way around the circumference of the nut. Transfer to a chestnut pan or rimmed baking pan. Roast in the oven until the chestnuts are tender, about 35 minutes. Turn the oven off. Leaving the pan with the chestnuts in the oven, remove several at a time. Working quickly, place 1 chestnut in a towel, and, holding both, peel the chestnut while still hot. Remove and discard the shells and inner skin; set aside. Heat the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Let chestnuts cool completely. Transfer chestnuts to the bowl of a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons sugar, and pulse until very finely ground; set aside.

  2. Place egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until foamy on medium-low speed, 5 to 6 minutes. With mixer running, slowly add 1/2 cup sugar. Raise speed to medium-high; beat until stiff peaks form, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer egg-white mixture to a bowl.

  3. Into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift together the cake flour, chestnut flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and remaining 6 tablespoons sugar. Add the egg yolks and the water, oil, and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until smooth and well combined, about 1 minute.

  4. Using a rubber spatula, carefully and gently fold the flour mixture in 4 or 5 additions into the egg-white mixture until well combined. Gently fold in the reserved chestnuts and chocolate. Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans, and bake on one shelf, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes come out clean, about 65 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until completely cool. Invert pans to remove cakes. Remove the parchment paper.

  5. Place one layer on a cake round or directly onto a cake stand or serving platter. Using an offset spatula, evenly spread the pastry cream on top to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Place the other layer on top.

  6. Pour ganache on top; carefully spread to about 1/4 inch from edges. Ganache will overflow slightly and gently brim edges. Arrange marrons glaces on top of cake, spaced evenly. Set cake aside in a cool place to allow the ganache to firm.

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