In the bag: Chestnut and hazelnut cake

November 30th, 2007 § 2 comments

Food blogging events is what brought me to food blogging. I love the challenge of creating a dish out of a theme or selected seasonal ingredients. It is such a creative process where I can let my inspiration work freely. I love it.
Last week, I was browsing through “Is my blog burning“, looking for cooking challenges to tingle the cook in me, when I tumbled on the november “In the Bag” challenge from  Julia and  her A Slice of Cherry Pie … Chestnut, chocolate and sugar! Yummy.

 In the Bag November Logo
In Julia’s cooking bag this month!

This was perfect timing: Since a week or two, I was submerged with a sudden chestnut crave. This usually happens to me a couple of times in the automn and winter season. Probably something left fom my childhood near the mountain regions from the Cévennes and Ardèche where chestnut trees are everywhere. When the first cold days arrive, the sweet and smoky smell of roasted chestnuts invades the streets of the city centre: during weekends, on every square, children gather around mini roasting stalls, awaiting the grey, wise and smiley elder in charge to provide them with a precious newspaper cornet filled with fuming roasted chestnuts. Aah! The smell of roasted chestnuts… It’s the smell of christmas at the door.

At home, children (and grown-ups) are happily fed with local “Crème de marrons”* (chestnut spread), topped with crème fraiche or whipped cream for desert. My father loved it. Strangely, I was not such a fan of chestnut spread as a child, but now that I’ve left home for some time… Once in a while, I have an urge for it and make sure to always bring back a couple of cans with me whenever I go back to France. I could eat it directly from the can! but mostly, I love to use it in cakes and deserts.

Crème de marrons
La crème de marrons de mon enfance

All that to say that I couldn’t miss that invitation to chestnut childhood memories… Yet, being overwhelmed with all the work involved with my “changing blogs platform mission”, I almost missed the posting deadline.
Hopefully, I’ll be just on time with my chestnut and hazelnut cake. Already for sometime, I had my eye on a beautiful chestnut cake with candied chestnuts from the talented french blogger Anne on her “Station Gourmande“… Yet, I was missing a good part of the ingredients. For the best, as I wanted to create my own recipe for this challenge and always like to add my personal touch anyway.
 

chestnut and hazelnut cake
A piece of cake?

We had the cake for sunday brunch with a couple of friends. The cake was tender, nutty with a little crunch from the hazelnuts and chocolate bits. It was a success!

I am looking forward to the round up from Julia now… I guess I’ll have a new chestnut crave very soon!

In the mean time, as I only used half of my 500g can of “Crème de marrons” for this cake, there’s a bonus: With the remaining spread, I indulged myself in one of my favourite chestnut treats: the “bouchons aux marrons de Céline“…

chestnut bites


Chestnut and hazelnut cake
Cake aux marrons et noisettes

serves 8 to 10 pers.
prep: 15 min. cook: 50 min

Ingredients:
3 eggs,
50g sugar,
160g whole wheat flour,
25g salted butter melted,
1/2 tsp baking soda,
1/2 tsp salt,
1/2 tsp vanilla, powdered

10 cl hazelnut oil,

1/2 tsp salt,
250g chestnut spread (I use crème de marrons* from ardèche)
50 g hazelnuts, toasted and roughly crushed,
40 g dark chocolate, roughly chopped


Preheat the oven at 180 deg C.
In a bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture doubles volume. Incorporate the flour, salt, baking soda and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour the butter and hazelnut oil, slowly, while mixing until homogeneous.  Incorporate the chestnut cream. Toss in the crushed hazelnuts and chocolate. Pour into a greased cake tin and bake for 50 min at 180 deg C or until the point of a mess comes out moist but clean. You might want to cover the cake with aluminium foil after about 20 min, when the cake is nicely golden to prevent it from burning. Unmold, ignore the delicious nutty exhalations and leave to cool on a metal grid. Enjoy with a strong dark expresso or your favourite tea.

Bon appétit!

* chestnut spread is a traditional recipe from the french cévennes and ardèche mountain regions. It’s made of pureed chestnut, slowly cooked with sugar syrup and flavoured with vanilla.

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