Tuesday, November 17, 2009

TWD - Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake

Guess who had a birthday? My baby boy is 22. How the heck did that happen? Of course, a birthday is celebrated with cake. A special boy deserves a very special cake. Happily this birthday coincides with the week to try a celebratory cake recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From my home to yours.

Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake is supposed to contain, well, chestnuts and chestnut puree. Since my family is slightly "new food" averse, I decided to omit any chestnuts. Instead I made a walnut puree.

Walnut Puree with Vanilla
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 vanilla bean pod
1/2 cup ground walnuts

Make a simple vanilla syrup using the sugar, water and vanilla. Place the sugar and water in a small heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Scrape in the vanilla beans. Bring to just a boil and stir until the sugar completely dissolves. Have the ground walnuts in a heatproof bowl. Add the warm syrup to the walnuts and stir until mixed.

That was just the beginning. Creating this cake was a two day event. The first night I baked the cake. The walnut puree was incorporated into the batter. Because in this recipe the eggs are separated, the beatened whites help the cake retain its light texure, even under the weight of the sugar syrup and nuts.

For baking, I used a 9 1/2" round springform pan with 3" sides. When fully baked, this cake filled most of the pan. It did take an extra 20 minutes over Dorie's suggested 48 minutes.

The next morning, I started with the caramel sauce. This was my third caramel sauce, so I now know not to touch the pan while it's boiling. Not even a swirl. Just let it darken. Then stand back and add the cream.

The taste highlight of this recipe is that the caramel is added to the milk chocolate ganache. Dorie is right - you make the cake because it's rude to eat all the ganache straight from the bowl. Though I tried.

This is a very dense dessert. A pound of butter, more than two cups of heavy cream - that was just the start. I used two whole 300 gram bars of Lindt chocolate, the milk chocolate for the ganache and the dark for the glaze.

This cake is so rich, we're eating it a sliver at a time.

With the cake as I made it, the ganache was ridiculously delicious, but the caramel was not necessary. For those who made this with the chestnuts, did you find the caramel in the ganache added an important flavour balance?

Please go to Second Dinner, the blog of Katya. She has the complete recipe posted there along with her photos of the baking process. As Katya says, this is a serious cake.


  1. What a lucky son you have there. He looks entirely pleased with his birthday cake! And why not? It looks spectacular!

  2. Interesting question about the addition of caramel. I cannot say that I could pick the flavor out. The whole thing is so rich and complex. Yours looks divine! Lucky guy.

  3. Happy Birthday to your son! What a cake to celebrate the day. Looks beautiful.

  4. Happy birthday! What a beautiful cake, and love your substitution :) I made the cran-apple crisp this week, so good!

  5. Your cake looks like a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday! I was so happy to read about your substitutions. I haven't made this cake yet, and I want to substitute for chestnuts, too. I'll definitely keep your changes to the recipe in mind when I make this.

  6. That cake looks worthy of a special occasion, and your son looks very happy to have it!

  7. This is crazy! But before I explain why, let me wish happy birthday to the bubie! WOW! 22...

    The cake is amazing, and I'm glad you had a special occasion to make such an expensive one (I do to, next week!)

    And what's crazy... is that never would I have thought you're bubie was such a big bubie! LOL LOL LOL Boy! Clivia... I thought you were a young woman just coming out of adolescence... and I'm not even trying to flatter you!LOL LOL LOL

    WOW! I'll take me a while to get over that one! LOL

  8. It looks fantastic.

    Happy birthday to your boy.

  9. He looks so happy!

    I LOVE your idea for the cake...I never would have thought of that. And now I MUst make it!!!!!


  10. OMG, that layered cake looks AMAZING AMAZING! I would be so happy if anyone made me that cake for my bday! You are a super star!

    I can't believe you have a 22 year old kid. I thought you were 22 yourself. ;)

  11. What a beautiful cake!!! But how can you have a 22 year old? Doesn't seem right! I used the chestnuts and thought they added an interesting subtle flavor, but I bet this was wonderful with your walnut puree.

  12. I am glad to finally read an honest review of that cake. It's fattening and time consuming and was it all worth it? I suppose - if you have the company that will eat it.


  13. I am impressed that you tackled this one. I am still debating.

  14. Beautiful cake! How cool that your son's birthday coincided with a celebration cake; I felt rather extravagant making it for just me and my boyfriend. You know, I thought the ganache was amazing and couldn't stop sampling it, but I didn't taste a ton of caramel in it - good point.

  15. It does look rich - and yummy! Hope he had a great birthday.

  16. Your cake looks fabulous. Love the thought of using walnuts instead of chestnuts. I loved this cake and thought the caramel in the ganache was what made it so good.

  17. I'm so having a hard time visiting blogs this week. Thanks for stopping by mine.
    Happy Birthday to your "little boy". ;)
    And the cake, wow, the cake. You rock just getting it done and it looks fabulous! Wow.

  18. Wow, you get an A+ for getting in all of the different elements, chestnuts or not. (HB to your "little" boy, LOL.) It sounds wonderful!

    Honestly, I thought the caramel chocolate frosting was the dominate flavor. I really couldn't taste the cake's flavors that well once the frosting was on. Too bad, because the cake on it's own was a nice delicate flavor.

  19. How sweet....Your birthday baby!!! Happy belated Birthday!!! So special to have those precious memories. Darn, its hard to believe how rapidly time passes. Beautiful cake. I haven't made it quite yet. Still debating. Should I?

  20. Happy Birthday to your son!! What a fabulous cake for his birthday! I haven't made this one yet and am still trying to decide if I want to scale it back. I'm skipping the chestnuts too though.

  21. That looks like a serious cake! What a great birthday treat

  22. Such a process but a fabulous result. Excellent job!

  23. Happy Birthday...I don't know which is more gorgeous: the cake or the boy! Fantastic looking in both cases.


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