This is a good chocolate cake! I have been meaning to make it since Rachel made it and that was a whole year ago. It had been on my to make list before that as I had looked at it longingly in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s The River Cottage Year, which believe it or not I have had in my possession for seven years. How time flies, and what a long to make list I must have.
It’s a great cake for this time of year, when chestnuts feature heavily on market shelves and in Christmas cooking. But to be honest it’s a great cake for any time of the year.
It’s easy to make too and can be enjoyed warm for dessert or cold with a cup of tea (or coffee, or a mulled wine).
250g good quality dark chocolate
250g peeled and cooked chestnuts (I use vacuum packed as life is too short)
4 eggs, separated
125g caster sugar
Grease and line a 25cm round cake tin.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a pan over a gentle heat. In another pan heat the chestnuts and milk together until it just comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and mash the chestnuts into the milk until smooth.
Whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar together until combined. Pour in the chocolate mixture and the chestnut mixture and whisk together well. I used a balloon whisk to do this.
In a very clean bowl whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and then carefully fold into the chocolate and chestnut mixture. Pour the mixture into the tin and place in a preheated oven at 170°c, gas mark 3, or the baking oven of the Aga for 25-30 minutes, until it is set, but it will still have a little wobble in the centre.
Leave in the tin to cool a little if you are serving warm or leave to cool completely. Sift cocoa powder over the top.
I was inspired to try my hand at this soup by a visit to a local café yesterday. I was reading the Christmas menu that I had unfortunately missed, but on it was this soup and I knew I had to give it a go. We have some parsnips left in the garden and my husband has complained that I haven’t been using them enough so I hacked my way through the frosty soil to get at them.
I have no idea whether it tastes like the soup served at the local café but this is delicious and a very comforting dish and you can taste all three of the main elements quite distinctly, although I may use a little less apple next time I make it as my version was a little too apple-y. I have adjusted the recipe below accordingly so I hope yours won’t be.
1 large parsnip (about 300g), peeled and chopped into chunks
1 small Bramley apple (or half a large apple), peeled, cored and chopped into chunks
1 onion, diced
1 small potato, peeled and cut into chunks
100g roasted chestnuts, plus a few extra for slicing to serve on top of the soup (I use the vacuum packed variety for ease)
20g butter and a drop of olive oil
570 ml (1 pint) chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp cumin seed
salt & pepper to taste
Melt the butter with the drop of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the onion and cook for a few minutes, being careful not to allow the onion to brown. Add the parsnip, potato and apple and cook for a few minutes more. Add the cumin seeds and stir to combine and continue to cook for a few minutes. Season with a little salt. Add the chestnuts and the stock and bring to a simmer and cover the pan with a lid or foil. Cook over a gentle heat for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. If you are using an Aga, place the pan in the simmering oven for this amount of time. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste with salt and pepper.
Blend the soup either with a hand blender or in a blender or processor until smooth. Serve in warmed bowls, sprinkled with thinly sliced roasted chestnuts.
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This is another of those recipes with a variety of names, some call it tiffin, others refrigerator cake, others still a no-cook chocolate cake. I am sure there are other names for it too. This is my version and although there are a list of ingredients below it really is one that you can play around with and add whatever is your favourite fruit and nut combination or add whatever you have in the cupboard. This week I had a packet of vacuum packed roasted chestnuts, some dried cranberries, dried blueberries and macadamia nuts in my cupboard. I used milk chocolate Hobnobs because they were the only biscuits I had in the house, but you could use digestives or Rich Tea or any other biscuit you have in the tin.
This is rich and decadent but delicious and a real treat with a good coffee and five minutes peace and quiet, although the latter is highly unlikely in this house.
150g best quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
4 tbsp golden syrup
50g dried cranberries
50g pecan nuts, chunkily chopped
25g dried blueberries
80g Hobnobs (or any other biscuit you may have in the tin) broken into chunks
60g roasted chestnuts
Place the chocolate, butter and syrup in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water until they have all melted. Stir to combine.
Add all the other ingredients and stir to combine.
Line a loaf tin (mine measures 20cm length x 12cm width x 6.5cm depth) with clingfilm, with plenty to overhang the sides. Pour the chocolate mixture into the tin and smooth the top. Place in the fridge for a few hours until set. Remove from the tin and peel off the clingfilm. Cut into slices and serve with a lovely cup of coffee and put your feet up and enjoy.
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I love sprouts. We had roast chicken last night and I was wondering how to dress my sprouts up. I found some chorizo and I knew I had some vacuum packed chestnuts in the cupboard and so this dish came into being. It was very nice; the savoury tang of the sprouts combined with the salty tang of the chorizo and the sweetness of the chestnuts was just right. We will definitely be having this one again.
It’s hard to give quantities for this recipe, I used as much as we were likely to want to eat of each item.
vacuum packed peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped
Peel the top layer off each sprout and slice off the very bottom. I don’t feel the need to put a cross in the bottom of the sprouts as life is too short and they cook just as well without it. Put the sprouts in a pan and put in enough water to just cover them. Bring them to the boil and simmer for about 7-8 mins until tender (or you could steam them until tender). Drain the sprouts and leave to one side. Fry the chorizo in a large pan for a few minutes over a medium heat until it begins to leech its golden oil. Add the sprouts and the chestnuts and cook for a few minutes more, stirring gently, until everything is piping hot and covered in the chorizo oil. Serve immediately as a side dish.
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