Chocolate chestnut torte is just the Christmas dessert for those who can’t stand Christmas pudding, mince pies, and fruit cake. Rich and gooey, the texture is closer to a brownie than a cake. As it’s incredibly rich, a small slither will do the trick after a hearty Christmas dinner.
Including orange adds to the festive factor – as it’s not Christmas until you’ve cracked opened a Terry’s chocolate orange! – but you can omit the orange if you prefer.
You can use ordinary chestnuts for this. Just make sure you boil, rather than roast, them before adding them to the milk. But you can get cans of crème de marrons in specialist food stores all year round, and they’re much quicker and handier to use.
Replace the brandy with dark rum for an even richer cake if you prefer.
If using whole chestnuts, make a slit on the outer shell, taking care not to cut the nut inside. Boil for 30 minutes, leave to cool and then peel them from their shells. Roughly chop them before adding them to the pan with the milk.
l 225g 70% cocoa solids
l 225g softened butter
l 225g caster sugar
l 4 medium eggs separated
l 225g crème de marrons
l Zest of 1 large unwaxed orange
l 175ml milk
l 2 tbsp brandy
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Grease and line an 8-inch spring form cake tin with baking parchment.
Start by whacking the chocolate against the surface. This will save you from having to break it up with your hands. Melt the butter and chocolate in a heat proof bowl placed over a pan of simmering water.
In another pan, heat the milk and the chestnut puree until the milk reaches boiling point. Use a whisk to break up the chestnut puree until the mixture is smooth. As soon as the milk reaches boiling point, remove from the heat and add the brandy.
Whisk the sugar, orange zest and egg yolks in a large bowl and once the chocolate and butter have melted, pour this over the egg yolks and sugar, followed by the chestnut, milk and brandy.
In a clean, bone-dry, steel or glass bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Gradually add the whites to the cake mixtures, folding in with a large silver spoon.
Gently pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 45 minutes until wobbly in the centre.
The cake will be extremely fragile so leave it to cool in the tin for 15 minutes to let it firm up.
Serve with a dollop of fresh cream or vanilla ice cream while it’s still warm.