Christmas Eve 2014 Chestnut Torte with Chocolate Buttercream

photo 5

Chestnut Torte with Chocolate Mocha Butter Cream

For the torte:

6 large eggs, separated

1 1/2 cups raw sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 cups ground chestnuts, from a jar is fine, ground in a food processor

1 cup raw almonds, ground

For the buttercream:

8 oz bittersweet chocolate pieces

1/4 cup strong coffee

4 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces

3 tablespoons dark rum

For garnish:

8 glazed or regular roasted chestnuts

Preheat oven to 350’F, Butter and flour two, 10 inch, spring form pans

 photo 2

To prepare torte:

Place the egg yolks and 1 cup of the sugar in a bowl and set the bowl over a pan of hot water to warm. Whisk well. Remove from hot water and beat on high with an electric mixer until the mixture is pale, thick and when drizzled from the beaters, it leaves a ribbon on the surface. About 8 minutes.

Beat in the vanilla.

Fold in the chestnuts and almonds with a large, wooden spoon.

Set aside.

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and then add remaining 1/2 cup of the sugar. Beat on high until stiff, dry peaks form. Gently stir 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the chestnut mixture. Very gently fold the remaining egg whites into the chestnut batter.

Divide the batter between the two cake pans smoothing the surface.

Bake until golden and sides separate from the pan, about 40-50 minutes. Watch closely at the end so as to avoid over baking.

Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Once cool, gently remove the spring form sides and the base from the cakes. Place one cake on a cake stand or plate and the other on waxed paper.

photo 1 

For the icing:

Combine chocolate and coffee in the top portion of a double boiler and slowly melt the chocolate, stirring to prevent scorching. Set aside and keep warm.

Place the egg yolks in a mixing bowl and warm over a pan of hot water while whisking to warm. Once warm, remove from hot water and beat on high until pall and thick.

Meanwhile, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the temperature comes to 236′ F on a candy thermometer. With the mixer on low, beat a tablespoon of the hot syrup into the egg yolks to temper them then slowly pour the remaining syrup into the egg yolks increasing the speed to medium low. Fold in the warm chocolate and then gradually beat in the butter a few pieces at a time. Once all the butter is blended, mix in the dark rum.

Chill the icing until firm.

To assemble the torte:

Using just less than half of the buttercream, frost the bottom layer. Carefully position the second layer on top of the first and frost the top and sides of the torte. Garnish with the glazed chestnuts by placing each of them symmetrically around the outer rim.

Refrigerate briefly to set the icing.

Best served at room temperature with coffee, tawny port, or oloroso sherry.

 photo 4

*Williams Sonoma Complete Entertaining Cookbook

Advertisements

Be Fearless and Passionate About Food and Life

My essay:  Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw book challenge: summer 2010

Rank #475 of 1949 voted on by other contestants.

Cooking is the ultimate expression of true sensuality, passion, and love. It is the essence of a life well lived. Eating and drinking are among life’s greatest pleasures.  Preparing a meal is the beginning.

A well-prepared, thoughtful meal is a celebration of life and of love.  Cooking is the ultimate expression of true sensuality, passion, and love. When it is done well, it is the essence of a life well lived. Eating and drinking are among the greatest pleasures in life.  Preparing a meal is the beginning.  When we take the time to cook food well, we take the time to eat slowly, taste our food, engage in conversation, experience with one another, and enjoy the moment.  Nothing is more primal than the desire for love and connecting with what it means to be human. Sustenance is intrinsically linked to that connection.  Emotion is felt in the stomach: sadness, fear, happiness, passion, and bliss.  Hunger feels reminiscent of butterflies in the stomach.

Being fearless and adventurous with ingredients and preparations is the key to passionate cooking. Dare to throw away your recipes and ‘paint with food,’ be creative, be bold, be an artist. It’s not about necessarily about training, but paying attention helps.  My favorite food is fairly restrained and simple but it is still creative. Not everything needs to be a complicated fusion mess of flavors and textures.  Pairing a fresh watercress salad with steamed asparagus, leeks, crumbled bacon, and a couple of over easy, fried eggs sprinkled with tarragon is simple and delicious.  Add a crisp, cool glass of Chablis and it is heavenly.

Cooking well is about knowing yourself and knowing your surroundings. Being connected to your food is about being connected to the land; it’s about something real. Don’t be afraid to taste some dirt. Plant some herbs or visit a farm.  Know where your food comes from.  Cooking well implies opening yourself up to diversity in culture, flavor, texture, scent, and color from the world.  Perhaps you are traveling to foreign lands or simply traveling vicariously through the cuisine you prepare. It’s about exploring. Living.

When I am dreaming of France I cook simply, yet beautifully.  Every time I braise coq au vin or taste a gorgeous Chinon I am transported.  While fantasizing about Italy, I make a frothy cappuccino, sprinkled with cocoa and nibble on a crunchy, handcrafted, pinon nut biscotti or I sip smoky Aglianico.

If I crave Spain, I prepare Paella.  I painstakingly select every ingredient from the fragrant saffron threads to the freshest scallops, mussels and clams I can find in my mid-western desert. I play Paco de Lucia in the background and serve my guests cool, floral, Albarino.  We dine on my creation, drizzled with Vinegar de Jerez and smoked paprika, garnished with lemon and a bit of ripe, red pepper…and we dream.

Living in the city can be isolated and lonely at times.  We are busy.  We are stressed. Cooking a meal is a perfect time to reconnect with humanity and our loved ones.  It begins when I select the dish or menu.  I visit the markets to select the freshest ingredients.  And then, I cook, and I cook well.