So the spate of sweet recipes continues here at Salad Club… I blame my pregnancy hormones and the increasingly uncontrollable afternoon urge to bake. Like Ellie, I usually always put savouries first—preferring to linger over stews, salads or soups while making do with a few squares of bitter chocolate, if anything, to sweeten the palate afterwards. Recently, however, my focus has shifted somewhat and the greedy sugar beast within demands to be fed with only the finest of homemade treats. Ellie’s cacao cake really hit the spot a few weeks ago and this week I came across a River Café recipe to make use of my leftover Christmas chestnuts and satisfy the monster.
I tweaked the original recipe slightly to fit with the ingredients I already had and to lower the sugar content—it worked a treat. Preheat the oven to 150ºC. Butter a cake tin and line the bottom with greaseproof paper. Empty one vacuum-pack of chestnuts into a pan of milk and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes to soften. Meanwhile, coarsely chop 120g blanched almonds and a bar of bitter chocolate with a knife, in a coffee grinder or in a food processor if you’re lucky enough to have one! Cream together half a pack of unsalted butter and 200g caster sugar. Separate 5 eggs and add the yolks to the butter one by one, beating as you go. Save the whites in another bowl. Drain the softened chestnuts, chop/grind them up coarsely and add to the butter mix with the chopped almonds and chocolate. Grate in the zest of one lemon and stir everything together. Whisk the 5 egg whites into soft peaks (I finally got myself an electric whisk at Wimbledon car boot so this was blissfully easy). Fold about a quarter into the chocolate and nut mixture to loosen it, then gently fold in the rest. Pour into the cake tin, bake for 45 minutes then be patient and allow to cool (borrring!). For the topping, melt another bar of bitter chocolate with a tablespoon of butter and spread over the torte.
Light, nutty and a tad morish. Great when gooey and just cooked but even better served with black coffee after a night in the fridge.