Yet another quick, one-bowl cake recipe? Yes, because you can never have enough, especially when they involve lots of dark chocolate.
But if you have had enough, you will forgive me the next time you have guests coming over and you have to make a last-minute dessert, trust me. This is a trick to have up your sleeve.
The only minor catch is that you need a very specific ingredient to make this cake, so be sure to stock up on it when you come across it (as it might not be as easy to get a hold of where you are and it does keep for a very long time).
I am talking of chestnut jam, or spread or sweetened puree. It comes under many labels, and there seem to be a variety of preparation methods (some follow a basic jam making technique, others use boiled chestnuts mixed with boiled egg yolks and sugar, some simply puree marrons glaces), but I believe whatever kind you have available should work fine in this cake (as long as you do not buy the unsweetened paste).
Crema di marroni or marmellata/confettura di castagne is quite common in northern Italy, an area that abounds in chestnut tree forsets. I know it is also a well-beloved spread in France, so you should be able to find it in specialty stores without too much of a problem.
The story of this cake began when, my daughter came home from school one day and exclaimed: "G had the best sandwich today. There was a brown spread in it, but I don't remember what it was called, and it was soooo good!". I enquired when I bumped into G's mother the next day and it turns out it was chestnut jam. After a few weeks of pestering, I gave in and bought a jar. That Sunday, a happy girl sat at the breakfast table, spreading her chestnut jam on a slice of bread.
Just that Sunday, I must add.
Week end after week end I put the chestnut spread on the table along with our assortment of jams and honeys, and week end after week end I kept putting it back into the fridge.
When I opened it last Saturday, there was still that one, lonely dent made by her knife over a month ago. And a tiny little spot of white fuzz in a corner.
I gave my daughter 'the speech', how we do not waste food in our household, that if you buy something it has to be used up, etc. I scooped out the tiny fleck of fuzz and decided to prove my point.
I remembered a recipe a running companion told me about a few weeks prior (yes, we burn calories and talk about cake). I googled it and came up with a few options. I chose the one with less chestnut jam and more dark chocolate, purely for convenience as the brand we had bought came in a smaller jar. That evening, with guest coming at 7:30, I set off to bake my cake at 7:20. At 7:30 it was in the oven and it was baked at 8:10. By the end of dinner it had cooled, I sprinkled over some powdered sugar and served it.
Lesson taught to children - check
No waste - check
Great new recipe - check
All in all, a good result if you ask me.
The cake in itself is pretty grown up*: it is dense, not overly sweet and tastes like the chocolate you used, so choose well. It has a moist, yet chalky texture - excuse the oxymoron, but it is a very difficult texture to describe.
It is not a grand cake, although it is discreetly elegant if you ask me (and you could make it grand by serving it with chestnut jam flavored, rum-infused whipped cream).
My husband, who wrinkled his nose at the idea of chestnut spread in cake batter and went on to declare he wouldn't have any, managed three slices in a row.
Recipe from Il Cuore Arrosto
400gr chestnut jam
150gr best quality dark chocolate
2 tbsp flour
a drizzle of rum (optional)
Preheat your oven to 180°C/375°F.
In a saucepan, melt the chocolate and butter on a low flame, mixing every now and then.
In a bowl, scoop out the chestnut puree and then add the butter-chocolate mixture and mix well. This should cool off the mixture, but check that it is not too hot before you beat in the eggs one at a time. Drizzle in a little rum and the two sifted tablespoons of flour.
Pour the mixture into a greased and lightly flour-dusted springform pan and bake for about 40 minutes.
Let cool, unmold and decorate with icing sugar.
*Nonetheless, my kids scoffed most of it.