Chocolate Chestnut Slices
Chocolate and chestnut, what a pair! As mentioned by Nat King Cole in The Christmas Song, Chestnuts roasting on an open fire are a holiday favorite. But over the years, chestnuts seem to have become less and less prominent. Frequently seen at most street carts around New York during the holidays, I have yet to find one this year. Maybe because most Chestnuts now come from Asia or maybe it’s just the trend life cycle. A whole article could easily be written on the history of chestnuts. I’m just here to share this delicious chocolate chestnut slices recipe.
What would the holidays be without a classic Paula Peck recipe? This delightful party-friendly dessert comes from her book, “The Art of Fine Baking.” I’ve been eyeing this recipe for a few years now, usually intimidated by the number of component recipes involved. Although the sponge cake, chestnut filling, mocha buttercream, and bitter chocolate glaze all need to be made separately, it wasn’t as difficult or as time consuming as expected. Each recipe is fairly quick and the overall cake roll is easy to put together.
The idea of these chocolate chestnut slices is simple. Classic sponge cake with mocha buttercream is wrapped around a chocolate chestnut filling, then coated in a glossy bitter chocolate glaze. Sliced into near bite size pieces, this unique chocolaty sweet treat knows how to get the party started.
I recommend using jarred chestnuts for this recipe. Although more expensive, the nuts and syrup seem to have more flavor than the dried snacking version. It’s important that the nutty chestnut flavor stand on it’s own against the strong mocha buttercream. This chestnut filling should be the highlight of these cake slices. Of course the chocolaty glaze and soft spongy surrounding cake doesn’t hurt either.
Happy Holidays to all!
- 7-8oz jarred chestnuts (one jar)
- ½ cup soft unsalted butter
- ¾ cup sifted confectioners sugar
- 1 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
- ¼ cup cognac or brandy
- 1 cup apricot jam
- 2 tablespoons liqueur such as cognac or kirsch (optional) or water
- 1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa, sifted
- pinch of salt
- ⅔ cup heavy cream
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter
- 1⅓ granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Heat chestnuts in their liquid. Drain well. Mash to a fine puree. Cool. Cream chestnut puree with butter. Add confectioners, chocolate, and cognac or brandy. Chill until firm enough to mold.
- Cut sponge sheet in half lengthwise, making two rectangles 16 inches long. Spread mocha buttercream on one rectangle. Shape chestnut puree into a roll, 16 inches long and no more than 1 ½ inches in diameter. If cream is very soft, use wax paper to help mold it.
- Heat apricot jam in a saucepan until boiling. Stir in water or liqueur.
- Place the roll of chestnut cream in the center of the cake. Roll cake around the chestnut cream center, turning seam to the bottom. Brush roll with hot apricot glaze. Place them on a cake rack.
- Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and thick, about 5 minutes. Let mixture stop bubbling. Stir in vanilla. Use while hot.
- Pour rich bitter-chocolate glaze over top and sides. Chill. Cut into ¾ inch slices, wiping knife after each slice.
- Yield 16 slices.