Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Hazelnut and Chestnut Cake

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…Jack Frost nipping on your nose…" How come we think of Chestnuts so often this time of year (at least, I do) but it seems like only the French are out there eating them in the streets (actually, according to my brief online research – see below – the Chinese are really the ones eating them) all hot and toasty and creamy and delicious. Have you ever had a roasted chestnut? They are something out of this world. Since it’s a little late to be getting any fresh ones this year (most places are sold out, there is only a limited supply every year) maybe you could try this cake instead. I really love it. You can substitute any nut you like for the hazelnuts…

1/2 cup butter

1 cup chestnut flour* plus additional for dusting
1 cup hazelnuts, without skins, chopped (you can buy them this way, or do it yourself)
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Butter the pan and dust with chestnut flour, knocking out excess.

Sift together chestnut flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl, then stir in nuts and chocolate chips.

Beat together egg yolks, butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and pale. Add the flour and mix just to combine (if you over mix, the cake will be tough)

In a large bowl with clean beaters, beat the three egg whites and a pinch of salt until they form soft peaks. Add remaining the white sugar a little at a time, beating, and beat until whites just hold stiff peaks. Fold one third of whites into batter to lighten it, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Spread batter in pan and rap pan on work surface once to release any large air bubbles. Bake 30 minutes, then loosely cover with foil and bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 10 to 15 minutes more. (Cake is naturally dark.)

Transfer cake in pan to a rack and cool 30 minutes, then remove side of pan and cool completely before serving. Try this with whipped cream that has a touch of orange zest and Frangelico in it...yum.

BONUS RECIPE! How to roast a chestnut:

Soak the chestnuts in a bowl of water for about a half-hour to soften their shells. Cut a slit crosswise through the middle of the shell around its rounded side. Bake them in a 450-degree oven for about 15-20 minutes or until they split open and their meat is soft. Wrap them in a towel or napkin for a few minutes and serve them warm.

The American Chestnut was the dominant tree in the Appalachian Mountain

range until the late 1800's when a blight (brought in on Chinese Chestnut trees)
killed off most of the trees. They still do exist in small areas, but are not
the dominant tree they once were.

Speaking of China, the Chinese consume 40% of the world's supply of chestnuts.

Source for Chestnuts

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