Chestnut Slices

Gesztenyeszelet

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    12 slices

Appears in

The passion for chestnut-based desserts knows no limits in central Europe. Hungary is especially chestnut-crazy (some of Europe’s best chestnuts are grown there). Outside of the occasional holiday stuffing, chestnuts have never really taken off in America, but this recipe could make some converts. I suspect the difficult peeling process is one of the reasons for chestnuts’ lack of popularity. Here’s a Hungarian recipe that puts a 16-ounce can of chestnut purée to very good use: a bit is used in the cake batter for flavor, then the remainder is turned into a whipped-cream topping.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons canned unsweetened chestnut purée
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup cake flour

Brandy Syrup

  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar ¼ cup brandy

Chestnut Topping

  • cups canned unsweetened chestnut purée
  • cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, for garnish

Method

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour a 13 X 9-inch baking pan and tap out the excess flour.
  2. To make the cake: Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing heavy-duty electric mixer. Place over a pot of simmering water (the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl). Whisk constantly until the eggs are very warm to the touch and the sugar is dissolved (rub a bit of the egg mixture between your fingers to check for grains of sugar). Attach to the mixer and fit with the whisk. Beat on high speed until the mixture is tripled in volume and very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the chestnut purée, vanilla, and salt and beat until the chestnut purée is well distributed (the eggs will deflate slightly). Sift half of the flour over the eggs. Using a large balloon whisk or rubber spatula, fold it in. Repeat with the remaining flour. Spread evenly in the pan.
  3. Bake until the cake is golden and springs back when pressed in the center, about 20 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. To make the syrup: Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then boil for 1 minute. Cool completely. Stir in the brandy.
  5. To make the topping: Beat the chestnut purée with ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a handheld electric mixer on low speed until smooth. In a chilled medium bowl, beat the cream with the remaining ¾ cup of confectioners’ sugar until stiff. Stir a large spoonful of the whipped cream into the chestnuts to lighten, then fold in the remainder.
  6. Brush and drizzle the syrup over the cake. Spread the chestnut cream on top. Grate the chocolate through the large holes in a box grater over the chestnut cream. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.
  7. To serve, cut into 12 rectangles and serve from the pan. Serve chilled.

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