VSChristmas desserts tend to be divisive, especially since some people can’t stand dried fruit. If you want something with a wider appeal, try this moist and rich chocolate cake – the addition of chestnuts gives it a particularly festive touch.
Chestnut and chocolate cake
250g peeled cooked chestnuts (vacuum or canned are fine)
250g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), broken
250g unsalted butter coarsely chopped
4 medium eggs, separated
100g caster sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan oven/gas 3, then grease and line your 25cm springform pan.
2. Put the chestnuts and milk in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Remove from the heat and mash well with a potato masher, you are aiming for a smooth puree, with just a few pieces of crumbly chestnuts. Put aside.
3. Put the chocolate and butter in a second saucepan and heat over very low heat. Keeping a close eye, to make sure the chocolate doesn’t get too hot, gently melt them together, stirring occasionally. Leave to cool a little.
4. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until blended and creamy (they don’t need to reach a “frothy” stage). Stir in the hot chocolate mixture (not hot) then the chestnut puree, to create a well-blended paste.
5. Whip egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Take a spoonful of egg white and stir it into the batter to loosen it, then lightly fold in the rest, trying not to squeeze out too much air. Carefully transfer the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cake is just set but with a slight wobble still in the center.
6. To serve warm, let cool slightly then unmold the cake. Slice carefully – it will be very soft and fluffy. Otherwise, let the cake cool, when it will be a little firmer.
Recipe from ‘Christmas At River Cottage’ by Lucy Brazier and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (published by Bloomsbury Publishing, £22; photography by Charlotte Bland), available now.