Tuesday, November 10, 2009

TWD: Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake


Last week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe was Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake, but due to the relaxed posting schedule this month, I made it this week instead. I had a lot of fun previewing this month’s recipes last week; I can’t wait to try them all. For those who have not baked the chestnut cake yet, this cake is a bit of a Project. A lot of weeks when the recipes involve multiple steps, I will write things like, “there were multiple components, but none of them were difficult” or “you can spread the baking out over two days.” I actually found this cake on the higher end of the difficult and time-consuming side, though I am not above admitting that my inability to read that the eggs were to be separated did not help the process (luckily I realized it before I’d added in the flour and chestnut puree). Neither did forgetting to line the baking pan with parchment paper. The cake was very dense and impossible to remove from the pan. I had baked a half recipe in an 8x8 pan (which it filled quite well) and was planning on cutting it vertically, so I did that while the cake was still in the pan and managed to coax both halves out – luckily it’s a pretty sturdy cake.



This recipe did not specify to make the caramel in a skillet (it said saucepan), but the instructions for Dorie’s Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart did, and it worked well for me (in that I didn’t burn the caramel), so I went ahead and used one this time. The sugar did crystallize quite a bit, which was easily resolved with a glug of corn syrup and brushing the pan with water. Overall, another successful caramel attempt – woo! The chocolate ganache called for a mixture of milk chocolate and bittersweet; since I do not like milk chocolate, I split the difference and used semisweet, which tasted great. I refrigerated the ganache overnight, and then left it out for over an hour to spread it on the cake, but it was pretty solid. I eventually ended up whipping it with a little more cream to loosen it up, which worked well and it coated the cake nicely. The final step was the chocolate glaze, which thankfully came together quite easily. The instructions said to wait for the glaze to set until it was “thick but pourable” and mine was after about an hour. And wow, what a nice finish to the cake!



Oh, and as you can probably infer from the pictures, I used hazelnuts rather than chestnuts, which I could not find for less than $11.49 per jar, for the filling and top. I decided I need to start being more judicious in my baking expenditures, particularly when it involves an ingredient I’m not that excited about and there are suitable substitutions in my pantry. I did use vanilla chestnut puree for the actual cake portion, and I’m happy I did, as it gave the cake a lovely sweet nutty flavor. I also burned a chestnut scented candle while I put the cake together. I think the candle was probably more expensive than the actual chestnuts, but it’s lasted a long time.



This recipe rated a 9.5 for Deliciousness and a 5 for Effort, giving it an EDR 1.9. I have to say, that though it was time-consuming, it was also a very satisfying dessert to make. And eat. Many thanks to Katya of Second Dinner for selecting this cake. You can find the recipe here on Katya’s site and visit the TWD blogroll to see what the other bakers made this week. The recipe for the Cran-Apple Crisp, which is this week’s official recipe, is available here on The Repressed Pastry Chef.

19 comments:

AmyRuth said...

WOW, (clap clap clap) What a beautiful cake. I haven't started searching out the ingredients for this one yet. Hmmm may do some subbing myself. Glad to know yours workout so beautifully.
AmyRuth

AmyRuth said...

ha ha I meant to say worked out so beautifully. ruh roh I think my eyes are crossed... must go to sleep.
AmyRuth

jillbert said...

Your cake turned out great! I like how you decorated it with the hazelnuts. It sounds like a lot of effort, but it looks like it was a success.

shortbreadsouth said...

Very beautiful. Hazelnuts sound delicious, too.

Megan said...

I can't even find chestnuts here - and I certainly wouldn't pay almost $12 jar for them either! Hazelnuts were a terrific idea, and the cake looks just wonderful.

Amanda said...

Wow that looks great! I haven't made this one yet, I went with the cookies this week. With our budget I might not make, may save it for another time.

SUGAR B said...

Man, that looks good.

I think your cake likes me, too. I need a fork.

Isabelle said...

Your cake looks fabulous - I love the presentation! I'm loocking forward to making this one!

vibi said...

WOW! What a remarquable presentation... sooooooo even and perfect! I'm amazed! Bravo Margot!

Cakelaw said...

Your cake looks beautiful Margot! I like the use of hazelnuts - I actually like them better than chestnuts.

Pamela said...

I have to admit that I am intimidated by this cake and all of the work that seems to be involved. Not sure if I'll make it yet, but if I do, I will also use hazelnuts. Also, I like the idea about the candle. :o) Very pretty cake!

Romaine said...

I laughed out loud reading about the candle. Bet it also had more of a scent than real chestnuts.

Aren't you proud of your creation? You should be. It is gorgeous. I'm impressed that you made the caramel on the stove. Mine was a dismal failure. Thankfully, it worked perfectly in the microwave.

After this dessert, everything else will be easy. That's what I'm thinkin.

Leslie said...

I made this one this week, too, but was lucky to find affordable chestnuts while we were on vacation, or else I wouldn't have made it. I loved that you burned a chestnut candle.

Thanks for your kind word about our Allie. She was such a sweetie and I miss her terribly.

spike. said...

It looks beautiful! I'm not sure I'll get to this one but your pictures are making me think twice!

lasinthekitchen said...

Wow, your cake looks stunning! I never would have thought of baking it in an 8x8 and then cutting it vertically instead of horizontally. I'm still debating on baking this cake, it sounds pretty hard and the ingredients are even harder to find! Yipes. You encourage me though, so I'll try and find those ingredients somewhere! =)

pinkstripes said...

I did the hazelnut thing too and it absolutely rocked my world. So Good.

Your cake looks gorgeous!

Nancy/n.o.e said...

I'm planning to tackle this Project for next Thursday, and hope to start days in advance. Your beautiful cake has set a shining beacon for me to follow, or is that the chestnut candle??! I don't have a candle in that scent, so I'm a little apprehensive about my chances for success with this one. I'm very psyched that you gave it a 9.5 for deliciousness (I already assumed it would have a difficulty factor that's out the roof)

Tracey said...

Well, let me start off by saying that your finished cake is stunning - love it! I've been dreading this "Project" the whole month and have made every recipe except this one. At first when you were talking about all the components I knew it was a sign for me to skip it. Then I saw your deliciousness rating and started rethinking it. Lucky thing I still have a week to figure it out...

Sarah said...

Your cake is beautiful Margot. I've been on the fence about making this one, but your review has convinced me to do it. Your cake really is stunning, and your photos are gorgeous.