Thursday, 8 January 2009

chocolate chestnut cake & crème fraîche parfait

This was quite a feat. I had never eaten nor cooked chestnuts before and it was also the first time I used my brand new ice cream machine.

Both recipes were successes!

The chocolate chestnut cake is a Nigella Lawson recipe. I have been watching a lot of Nigella lately, with round-the-clock Nigella episodes airing due to Christmas cable programming.

As my friend John put it, after being mesmerised by those curves, cheeky smile and healthy appetite, “Nigella is one hot heifer”. I have to agree.

The chocolate chestnut cake comes from her book, Nigella Bites, and is so easy to make with only 4 ingredients and 5 steps from start to serve.

Nigella suggests serving it with crystallised violets and crème fraîche, but since the weather is so warm in Sydney I opted for an ice cream recipe I saw Maggie Beer make on The Cook And The Chef.

They worked perfectly together and although the cake was luscious, rich and everything you want in a Christmas dessert, I think we all swooned over the sweet-sour flavours of the crème fraîche parfait. There was just something utterly decadent about it.

These two recipes are my contributions to First Thursdays January 2009 theme “challenge yourself”. The recipes each happen to fufill one of my own 2009 Food Challenges: cook with chestnut.

Chocolate Chestnut Cake 
Recipe from Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson. Makes 10–12 slices. 
500g sweetened chestnut purée
300g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
175g unsalted butter, soft
3 tablespoons dark rum


1. Beat the purée in a bowl until it’s smooth, and then add the butter, beating again to make a well-blended mixture.

2. Melt the chocolate and let it cool slightly, before adding it to the chestnut and butter in the bowl.

3. Beat in the rum, and spoon the chocolate mixture into a 23 x 10cm loaf tin, lined with clingfilm, in two batches, making sure the first layer reaches the corners and sides of the bottom of the tin before you smooth over the rest.

4. Wrap the overhanging clingfilm over the cake so that it is completely covered, and put it in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours, but a day or so in advance if you want.

5. Don’t take the loaf tin out of the fridge until you want to eat it, when you just unmould the cake, cut it into thin slices and serve.

Crème Fraîche Parfait

Recipe by
Maggie Beer. Makes 1 litre.


375g sour cream
3 egg yolks
¾ cups sugar
¼ cup +1 tablespoon of water


1. Whip the sour cream in an electric mixer until soft peaks form – cover and refrigerate.

2. Dissolve the sugar & the water together in a small pot, washing the sides down with a pastry brush dipped in water.

3. Cook until the syrup reaches the “soft ball” stage. To check that the sugar is at the right stage, dip a teaspoon into the pot and drop a little syrup into a glass of iced water, if you’re able to form a soft ball with the syrup then it’s reached temperature, if not continue to cook and test for the right consistency from time to time. Alternatively if you have a sugar thermometer, the syrup is ready when it reaches about 116C.

4. Beat the egg yolks together in a clean electric mixing bowl and slowly pour the syrup over the eggs in a steady stream and then continue to whip the yolks at a moderate speed until room temperature.

5. Once cooled, fold the egg yolk mixture into the whipped sour cream.

6. Freeze according to ice cream machine instructions.



  1. Anna - This is similar to what my son made at Christmas time but shaped into a buche de noel. Since you can mold the cake just about anyway you wish, I suppose you could get quite creative with shapes and such. Glad to see that someone outside of France has heard of chestnut cream! Cheers!

  2. Looks wonderful, no woder both were successes!

  3. I love anything made of chocolate. Whether it is chocolate ice cream or a liqueur chocolate. If possible..please add the recipe of liqueur chocolate.


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