Suzi's Blog

A Comforting Chocolate and Chestnut Cake from Amber Rose

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Amber Rose has just published Love Bake Nourish, a baking book that reflects a very distinctive personal nature. She’s a passionate about foods that are seasonal, organic and not processed. She loves different flours and she cannot abide processed sugar. In her career as chef and author, she has scoured for recipes, old and new, that meet her standards for superior and naturally healthy baking.

This dish is old, Italian, and a treasure. No sugar, just honey. No flour, just ground walnuts plus chestnut puree. There is a reason traditional recipes are the core of our culinary heritage. They taste good.

Amber’s recipes typically end with serving suggestions. I expected to read about whipped cream. How lovely to find she wants this dense, rich cake served with sour cream. This combination is truly self-intensifying.

And, uh, no, there is no chance of confusing this cake for a baked potato.

Addendum

Suzen made this cake for her monthly group of celiac patients from the Columbia University Center for Celiac Disease. She teaches patients and their families, not just how to get through, but how to thrive. Our pastry chef made this cake and I reminded her that it should come with sour cream. Our pastry chef is from the Caribbean and very dignified and a bit terse. “No, whipped cream,” she said. And that’s what the picture shows.

This cake is unleavened, so it is Passover ready.

A Comforting Chocolate and Chestnut Cake

Yield: serves 10-12

Ingredients:

  • 5 large free-range eggs, separated
  • ½ cup honey
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 18 ounces unsweetened chestnut puree
  • 1 ½ cups ground walnuts (or hazelnuts)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), grated or chopped

 

Preparation:

Preheat t h e oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10-inch loose-bottomed cake pan.

Mix the egg yolks and honey in a large bowl until thick and smooth, then add the butter, pureed chestnuts, walnuts, lemon zest, and chocolate, and mix thoroughly until everything is completely incorporated.

In a separate, very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold the egg whites into the cake mixture, trying not to lose the air from the mixture, and don’t bang the bowl. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan.

When the cake has cooled completely, turn out onto a serving plate. Serve cold with a little sour cream or crème fraiche. I like it with cherry compote.

Source: Love Bake Nourish by Amber Rose

 

Sour Cream Cookies and Frosting

 

Web-2014_02_02_1966Sour cream and chocolate are intimately compatible. The overlay of flavors in your mouth is rewardingly confusing.

Here are two recipes from Mable Hoffman’s Chocolate Cookery, a paperback gem from 1978. The cookie is puffy, but not soft. It bakes to the point of being firm, and the nuts inside provide a crunch. There is some chocolate here, but not the ounces and ounces you see in many recipes. It’s just chocolate. NOT CHOCOLATE!

The subtle cookie is given sparkle with a sour cream chocolate frosting that has more direct sour cream tang. Now, with the frosting, the cookies begin to approach decadence.

If you prefer your caffeine without frosting or through coffee, the unfrosted cookies are beautiful to behold and just fine on your tongue.

Sour Cream Cookies

Yield: 40-48 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • ⅔ cup butter [that 150 grams]
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chopped nuts

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Melt the chocolate and set aside. Allow to cool to tepid so that it is not “hot” to your finger before using.

Line two half-sheet cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream the butter. Gradually beat in the sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Cream well. Add the vanilla and cream for another minute. Add the egg and beat until fluffy.

Stir in the melted chocolate, then sour cream.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Stir in the nuts. Do not over stir.

Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for about 8 minutes, until just firm to the touch. Cool slightly before placing on wire racks.

Sour Cream Frosting

Yield: enough for this batch of cookies or one 2-layer 8- or 9-inch cake

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup dairy sour cram
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 ¼ cups sifted powdered sugar

Preparation:

In a medium saucepan, melt the chocolate pieces and butter. Cool several minutes. Stir in the sour cream, vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth. Spread immediately, because it will “firm up” over time. Once firm, the cookies can be stacked on each other for storage.

Preheat Source: Chocolate Cookery by Mable Hoffman

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 18-55MM Macro lens shot at F/2.8 1/60th second, ISO 3200