Up until today, the closest thing I’d ever come to roasting chestnuts was listening to The Christmas Song. I only found out today that was actually the name of the song courtesy of Google. Honestly, where would I be without it?! The usual set-up when I’m cooking is that I have my cookbook sitting on its holder and the iPad is sitting right next to it. The reason I chose this week’s recipe which was Chocolate chestnut torte was because I just so happened to see them in M&S yesterday. I thought I’d surely make use of them so in they went to the shopping trolley.
So, today, I began by roasting the chestnuts. The recipe said to use cooked, vacuum packed chestnuts but I could also roast my own if I bought whole ones and the recipe said how to do it – just throw them into the oven for 30 minutes and then let them cool. But, hang on – did that mean I had to take them out of their shell first – just the same as I would with hazelnuts? Was I going to have to use the nutcrackers and hope they could manage the task?! Well, as you know, there’s not much that can’t be answered on Google so, once again, the iPad was the ready. I was lucky enough to come across a very good video which you can access on YouTube by clicking here - just remember these words...stick to using a long bread knife to do the cutting; otherwise, you'll end up in A&E.
According the chef on the YouTube video, to roast the chestnuts, I had to slit them width-ways with a large bread knife. I then threw them into a saucepan, covered with cold water and added a good pinch of salt. Once they came up to the boil, I put them into a cake tin and roasted them in the oven at 210°C for 15 minutes. After that, I tossed them into a wide, shallow bowl and covered them with a tea towel for 15 minutes. The last thing I had to do was shell them. This was the first time I’d ever tasted roasted chestnuts. I can’t really think what they taste like – possibly like sweet potatoes? Either way, the thought of roasted chestnuts was better in my head. Anyway, it was on to the rest of the recipe…
In a Pyrex bowl, I added diced butter and dark cooking chocolate and placed it over a simmering bowl of water. I used my beloved Kerrygold (of course!) and then used Black’s 70% Dark Cooking Chocolate. That cooking chocolate is particularly handy as it comes in bars of 100g and I needed 200g. Also, each square is easily broken into 4 pieces by hand so I didn’t have to start chopping it up with a knife. That, in itself, saved me having to scrape and scald the melted chocolate off the chopping board which is usually what I have to do if I use a different brand. Once the butter and chocolate had melted, I gave it a good sit and set it aside.
Next on the list was to take the chestnuts to task which was fairly simple. I had to boil them in milk for 3 minutes and then whizz them in the food processer. In another bowl, I whisked egg yolks and caster sugar and, in yet another bowl, I whisked the egg whites with caster sugar until they formed stiff peaks. Yes, I know. Alarm bells were ringing in my head at that point because you know what I’m like if there’s a meringue mixture to be done! A major potential for a major disaster.
Right so, I had to mix the chestnut puree into the melted chocolate and butter. Next, I mixed that into the egg yolk mixture and then I folded the meringue mixture into that. I then poured the cake mixture into a spring-form tin which I had buttered on the base and sides. I let it cook for 35 minutes (just to be sure!) even though the recipe said to cook it for 30 minutes. Once cooled, I slid it onto a plate and dusted it with icing sugar and served with double-cream.
Dear Husband was very happy with it and gave it 8 marks out of 10. He didn’t realise the absence of flour until I told him. Of course, with a mark like that, he said he would, without doubt, eat it again. Well, he is going to have to as there’s still about three-quarters of it left. However, this cake wasn’t for me as I’m not big into chocolate cakes or chocolate desserts – I find them too heavy. Therefore, for me alone, I wouldn’t be in a whole hurry to make this one again. However, I would say that having tasted a chocolate torte before, the addition of the chestnuts was nice. I’d prefer that version over the original if I had to pick.
Overall, a lot of bowls and a lot of bits that have to come together. Once I had the cake cooling, I actually skedaddled out of the house with the two babies in tow as they had a play date and left Dear Husband to clean up that mess and the dinner dishes. I think that’s the first time I left the house with the kitchen in such a mess but there’s a first time for everything. It was great though to come home and see that Dear Husband had done a great job of clearing up. Alleluia!
So, if for nothing else than being able to say that you have had the experience of roasting chestnuts and made a Christmas recipe using them, I would still recommend you try this recipe. Sure, it’s the only time of year really when roasting them is all part of the festivities.