Chocolate Chestnut Torte

Does anything say Christmas more than chestnuts? I mean really. Years ago I made some chestnut ice cream and served it with a dark hot fudge sauce. Oh man, it was sooooo good. But aside from using chestnuts in my stuffing at Thanksgiving (and a couple times in brussel sprouts), I haven't used chestnuts in very many dishes. I was going to try Mark Bittman's Chestnut Soup, but then I remembered how that hot fudge tasted with the chestnut ice cream and I dug up this old Gourmet recipe to try. (God I miss Gourmet!)

The batter is rather thick so be patient when you fold in the meringue. It's also important that you use canned or bottled chestnuts. Fresh chestnuts will not purée well enough. The recipe also calls for marrons glacés but I didn't care to spend a small fortune just for 8 or 9. So I made my own. Sort of. At any rate they served the purpose. I made a sugar syrup and then boiled them. Cooled them and boiled them again; the syrup got nice and thick so I removed them and stuck them in the fridge. Then continued on with the chocolate dipping as called for in the recipe. If you want to make these for real and have the time, the recipe is HERE.

The cake turned out  fudgy, dense and a chocolate lovers delight! I also think next time I will put a little less rum in the glaze.  ( I can't believe I actually said that!) And the whipped cream is a must.

Chocolate Chestnut Torte
Gourmet, October 1990

For the torte:

3/4 pound (about 2 cups) canned or vacuum-packed whole chestnuts, rinsed, drained well, and patted dry if using canned
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
4 tablespoons dark rum
10 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted
6 large eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar

For the glaze and garnish:

6 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon dark rum
8 marrons glacés (candied chestnuts, available at specialty foods shops)

For the whipped cream:

1 cup well-chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
1 tablespoon dark rum if desired
3/4 cup chopped marrons glacés


Line the bottom of a greased 9-inch springform pan with wax paper, grease the paper, and dust the pan with flour, knocking out the excess. In a food processor purée the chestnuts with the butter and the rum, scraping down the sides, until the mixture is smooth. Add the chocolate and blend the mixture until it is combined well. With the motor running, add the yolks, 1 at a time, and transfer the mixture to a large bowl. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat the whites with the salt until they hold soft peaks, add the sugar, a little at a time, beating, and beat the meringue until it holds stiff peaks. Whisk about one fourth of the meringue into the chocolate mixture to lighten it and fold in the remaining meringue gently but thoroughly. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake the torte in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a tester comes out with crumbs adhering to it and the top is cracked. Let the torte cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, remove the side of the pan, and invert the torte onto another rack. Remove the bottom of the pan, reinvert the torte onto a rack.

Let it cool completely. (The torte will fall as it cools.)

Make the glaze and garnish:

Put the chocolate in a small bowl, in a saucepan bring the cream to a boil, and pour it over the chocolate. Stir the mixture until the chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth and stir in the rum. Dip each candied chestnut halfway into the glaze to coat it partially, transfer the chestnuts to a foil-covered tray, and let them set. (These are MY pitiful marrons glacés.)

Invert the torte onto a rack set on wax paper, pour the glaze over it, smoothing the glaze with a spatula and letting the excess drip down the side, and let the torte stand for 2 hours, or until the glaze is set. Transfer the torte carefully to a serving plate and garnish it with the coated chestnuts.

Make the whipped cream just before serving the torte:
In a chilled bowl with chilled beaters beat the cream until it holds soft peaks, beat in the sugar and the rum, and beat the mixture until it holds stiff peaks. Fold in the chopped candied chestnuts.
You may prefer no whipped cream, but trust me on this, serve the torte with the whipped cream.


  1. Wow... yum! I don't know that my family would appreciate it, but I sure would. Since I have no business eating it all by myself, I guess I'll just file this recipe away and wait for the right opportunity to share it with deserving friends!

  2. Clever choice daaaaaaahling. Cake is so much more yummy than soup LOL. This looks lovely. Rich and chocolatey.

  3. Okay, I can't decide between the cake and ice cream! Holy Smokes!

  4. Chocolate lovers delight indeed! Barbara this looks and sounds divine! Thank you for always sharing such wonderful recipes!!

    Have a fabulous week,

  5. Channon: That's what I did- gave it to neighbors! Just could NOT keep it in the house!

    HH: You are so funny and we are so on the same wave length!

    Fahrenheit: The ice cream was better! (But I am an ice cream freak.)

    Karyn: What are we going to do now we can't pick Gourmet's brain?

  6. Oh my goodness. When I first started reading your post, I went a little nuts at the thought of chesnut ice cream with fudge sauce. but then I went even more nuts when I saw this torte. Stunning, and so festive! I am trying to decide what to make for christmas dessert and might try this, though I get a little nervous trying something brand new on guests. Looks absolutely fabulous though!

  7. I have looked high and low for chestnuts around here, and they simply cannot be found. I guess I'm going to have to find an internet source.

  8. Chocolate, chestnut and rum... Yum. Gorgeous cake Barbara.

  9. I have never had, nor baked with chestnuts.. sounds very interesting!

  10. The Torte look absolutely wonderful and delicious and I love your Christmas header, xx gloria

  11. Oh Barbara, your chocolate torte looks divine and with the combination of the rum and chestnut. Yummy!
    Your new Christmas header is lovely and bright.

    Happy week

  12. I love your festive header, Barbara! This torte sounds really decadent. I first had the chocolate/chesnut flavor combo a few years ago in a pudding-like dish...what a divine flavor combo it is!

  13. I'm trying to think of a more coherent sentence to write but really all I can think of is Oh My GOD YUM.

    That's about all I can type.

  14. Hungry: The chestnut ice cream was out of this world! Think it was also a Gourmet recipe.

    Pam: I usually can find them at Williams Sonoma, but this year found some at my market. I was surprised.

    Mimi: Thanks!

    BD: I can tell you are not over-enthusiastic about desserts (who makes them in your family?)- but chestnuts are super with vegetables and stuffing.

    Gloria: Glad you like the header...I am still not certain about it.

    Carolyn: I tried the snow effect with it but it doesn't show up well enough with the white background.

    Faith: I have a sneaky feeling chestnuts are very fattening. ( I am NOT going to look into this!)

  15. Barbara, I have never used chestnuts in sweets, but they sound like a great addition here. Chocolate Tortes are a weakness.. with lots of whip cream. Thanks for posting this terrific recipe...

  16. Oh my goodness, that sounds wonderful! I actually never made anything with chestnuts before but this might push me off the fence.

  17. oh wow wow wow amazing boy you can cook love it

  18. George: Chestnuts are really rather sweet so it comes naturally to use them in a dessert. But I do love them in a stuffing.

    Susan: It's quite an intense dessert actually.

    Rebecca: Thanks!

  19. i love how rich tortes are!
    chocolate tortes are my favourite.
    havent tried a chestnut and choc combo before.
    but sounds awesome since i love em both.
    looks great :)

  20. This looks stunning Barbara! I bet it tasted good.

  21. SH: Thanks! (Glad you had a good trip.)

    Muffins: I like tortes too...the chestnuts make this one quite dense.

    Cakelaw: It was delicious!

  22. Your torte looks fantastic! I have yet to try the combo chocolate chestnut because it looks so decadent :)

  23. Putting my hand up for being a chestnut freak! :) I wish they were easier to get here. And your maron glaces look great! They're so hard to do (I know having tried to make some!).

  24. this is brilliant, i have never even tried a chestnut, this would be a good way to start!

  25. YUM! That looks amazing! Also, I love the new festive header!!!

  26. Wow! That looks delicious and sounds fantastic! I love your header!

  27. Oh Barbara that looks too, too good! And I can't believe you'd want to reduce the rum either :)

  28. Looks great!! Good work! =]

  29. I have been making this for years and I absolutely LOVE it (unfortunately, my family doesn't so I only get to have it now when I'm making more than one dessert). I had it at someone's house and asked for the recipe--had no idea it was from Gourmet.

  30. Barb- What are you talking about? I love desserts- I have to, it's in the Dutch descended Book of Rules! :) I just apply my dessert efforts more to cheesecakes, than traditional baking (where I need a bit of work!). Where you used chestnuts, the Dutch would use hazel nuts, or "Filberts", as they are sometimes known..

  31. Karine: Sorry to say it IS decadent!

    Lorraine: I can't believe you are praising my puny effort at making marrons glace! They look OK in the photo, but trust me, the real thing is sooo much better.

    Simply and Erica: So pleased you like the header. Still not sure about it....

    Shaz: Most of the time I wouldn't. But for some reason it was strong in the glaze. Left it out of the whipped cream too.

    Inconfidential: What a coincidence! It's a funny thing, I don't think my kids would like it either. Well, perhaps my daughter- but not my sons.

    BD: Wow! That got a rise out of you! I just knew you liked desserts; you just don't post many.
    I don't usually post desserts one after another, but it seems that time of year. We're having Cafe Maxx's gingerbread trifle (an old post) this year for Christmas 'cause I can make so much of it ahead of time, my sons have never had it and it is spectacular. I was lucky their pastry chef shared the recipe.

  32. Saw you on Food With Style. Love chestnuts!!! I made
    Nesselrode Pudding last year with heavenly chestnut ice cream.. it's on my website if you're interested... would it be too evil to have your cake with it????
    Oh my!
    Thanks for the great recipe, glad I found your site!

  33. wowza, that looks dense. dense and dark and delightful and delectable. using less rum is okay--you can save it for a day when you need a different kind of pick-me-up. :)

  34. I shall call you the drool queen, b/c you always make me drool!

  35. I am thrilled to see this recipe because I have never tried chestnuts before. How can I go wrong with chocolate mixed in! Beautiful.

  36. I've placed in State BB-Q competitions with my desserts! Apple Crisp, Cheesecakes of any flavor..Lord! Pick a dessert- I'll make it! Honestly, It is not my first love..I like appetizers and main dishes!

  37. LPRemembered: Loved your recipe for Quince Ratafia! Never thought I would see that in 2009! So glad you liked the torte- I well remember the chestnut ice cream I made years ago. It was heavenly. And no, I don't think I could manage both that AND the torte- although I loved the dark fudge sauce on that ice cream. Now that I think about it, it was a Gourmet recipe too.

    Grace: Funny...I really never thought it would be too strong of rum. (perhaps because it was dark rum?) I was amazed.

    Duck: I will be watching my ornaments more closely tonight.

    El: Not much can go wrong with chocolate anything, I agree.

    BD:You entered some competitions? I am officially impressed. Was it as fun as it looks when I see them on TV? I've never even been to one- I did enter a contest in Birmingham once- honorable mention was all I got. And I wasn't even up against much competition. Ah well, I was just honing my skills back then.
    We always went to the Mich. State Fair back then..I loved the food competitions.

  38. Now Barbara, if I could just get a slice of this with a little of the ice cream you mentioned that would be wonderful...would you mind dear? A little heavy on the fudge please!
    If I could get my hair to your length I know I could be happy!

  39. This looks amazing!! What a great recipe and dessert!


  40. I've never heard of chestnuts being used like this, but my oh my is this a decadent looking dessert. I've only used fresh chestnuts once and that was in stuffing, so they're one of those products that lurks in the back of my pantry...tempting ; )

  41. June: Patience!

    Amanda: Thanks!

    Kellypea: I must admit I love them in stuffing. Never make mine without chestnuts!

  42. That looks absolutely FANTASTIC! I've only had chestnuts roasted! but with chocolate, has to be so good!

  43. I'm very impressed. Chestnuts definitely impress me. They just seem more sophisticated, and like you said, scream Christmas.

  44. Heaven on a plate!! I miss Gourmet magazine also!

  45. Interestingly enough I have a bag of peeled chestnuts that I was looking for a recipe for... this would be perfect!

  46. Dishes: I LOVE roasted chestnuts! Always have them when I'm in NYC this time of year.

    Jessica: Fortunately they are readily available nearly everywhere now.

    Sarah: They could have dropped Bon Appetit and I wouldn't have been nearly as upset. Although I think they are replacing our subscriptions with that.

    Trissa: Remember, fresh chestnuts don't purée very well.

  47. Barbara, This looks and sounds amazing. I too miss gourmet magazine, so sad to see such an inspirational and helpful magazine end. Do you read Food and Wine?? I like it a lot and always find something good to make in it. Tonight I think I may make the Chicken Tetrazzini recipe from The Boca Raton Cookbook, I forgot the name, but you have it listed in your sidebar??
    Have a great day

  48. This looks so good!! I've never done anything with chesnuts before. I'm really impressed :)

  49. Very pretty! You know, I have never had chestnuts.

  50. Bunny: Once in a while I read Food and Wine. Guess I better look into it! (The cookbook is Savor the Moment. There is a member doing a Julie/Julia bit with it.) Think I will finally get around to posting some decorations next week. Your blog is such fun.

    Megan: Just noticed you are from Grand Rapids. Assume you follow Buffalodick (his comment above)- he's from the same general area

  51. It's very possible that I just went into a chocolate sugar coma. And I don't want to be resuscitated. That looks so incredibly fudgy and delicious! Amazing. Just amazing.

  52. Mit Shlag! Yes! Whipped cream is a must! That is a stunner, Barbara.

  53. Aren't you amazing to make your own marrons glacés? What a gorgeous cake. I'm drooling now...

  54. Of course you were invited to the ball! Don't worry, there will be a Ladybug Ball in January!

  55. Natashya: Hope you try them some time- you'll like them.

    Joanne: Tell me about it!

    TKW: Sometimes you need whipped cream to cut through all the chocolate!

    Kate: I didn't think they were all that great, so thanks!

    Duck: Whew. I was worried!

  56. Wow! This cake is something out of this world, it looks heavenly!!

  57. I miss Gourmet too! The cake, especially the last shot, looks divine.

  58. Chocolaty: Yep, it's a slice of heaven all right.

    Cate: Always am surprised the photos turn out as well as they do. Old, old camera and I am no photographer.

  59. Oh, wow that is a cake! I miss Gourmet too, but it looks like your keeping up its spirit.

  60. It looks and sounds so fancy...it'd be sure to impress anyone!! :) Deeeeelish!!!

    :) T

  61. What a decadent torte, I'm loving the combination of chocolates and chestnuts!

  62. Great photo, the cake sounds and looks great.

  63. My goodness, this is such an awesome bake! Love it very much.



Related Posts with Thumbnails