As opposed to a typical horizontal cake, this vertical layer chestnut cake is a beautiful surprise that tastes nutty and buttery!
To my surprise, chestnuts aren’t very popular in the states (maybe due to its higher cost), even though there is a whole Christmas carol about them. However, they should not be overlooked since they are incredibly nutritious and flavor-packed. To utilize such a beautiful ingredient, I made a vertical layer chestnut cake that is inspired by the flavors of a Mont Blanc dessert.
Mont Blanc is a French/Italian dessert where a sweetened chestnut puree piped to resemble vermicelli is piped on top. It is piped in the shape of a mountain to resemble the Mont Blanc mountain. The dessert base is usually some sort of pastry such as a tart alongside with whipped cream. I don’t see many bakeries in the states selling chestnut-flavored desserts so I have to make them myself, which is no problem!
Much of the flavor and creaminess of this chestnut cake comes from the chestnut themselves rather than from added fats like cream or butter. I purchase pre-roasted, ready-to-eat chestnuts in bags. I use Galil roasted chestnuts, but would recommend buying these in bulk if possible. Costco sells these seasonally so you may get lucky and find them in Costco.
This cake consists of a light sponge, chestnut pieces, whipped cream, and chestnut puree. The sponge recipe is adapted from Sallys Baking Addiction. The chestnut puree is very creamy and is made from only chestnuts, sugar, water, and a bit of butter. For decoration, I piped a basket weave design with the basket weave tip around the cake and piped additional swirls on top of the cake with a star piping tip. I then added whole chestnuts and rosemary for color.
This is an easy, but complex recipe. It’s beautiful and tasty, but is not for anyone who is looking for a quick cake recipe! Maybe I went a bit too over-the-top for this, but I do like to challenge myself.
Chestnut nutrition benefits:
· Chestnuts taste creamy and fatty, but are actually low in fat. The fats are also unsaturated, which can help lower risk of heart disease and cholesterol levels.
Chestnuts are vitamin-dense foods. These vitamins can promote healthy skin, increase brain function, and increase energy levels throughout the day.
· Chestnuts are rich in fiber, thus beneficial for digestive health.
Cake making tips:
· Do not overmix the cake batter as you do not want to deflate the egg whites. 20-30 folds should do.
· Lightly dust parchment paper with flour to prevent sticking.
· Lightly dust top of cake with powder sugar to prevent sticking when rolling up.
· Do not overbake the cake otherwise it will crack when rolled.
· Cake must be rolled immediately once it is out of the oven, otherwise it will crack.
· Rest the rolled up cake for at least 2 hours to maintain its shape.
· Once the cake is rolled out, it is okay if there are a couple cracks since you will end up rolling the cake up.
Vertical Layer Chestnut Cake
yield: 6 x 3.5 in. cake
total cook time: 4 hours
· 120 g. or 1/2 c. + 1 tbsp. sugar
· 200 g. or 4 large eggs
· 115 g. or 1 c. minus 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
· 8 g. or 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
· 1 tsp. or 5 g. baking powder
· 30 g. or 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
For chestnut puree:
· 400 g. chestnuts
· 100 g. or 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
· 1 tsp. or 4 g. vanilla extract
· salt 1 g.
· 520 g. or 2 c. + 2 tbsp. water
· 30 g. or 2 tbsp. butter, softened
· 300 g. or 1 1/4 c. heavy cream
· 25 g. or 2 tbsp. sugar
· 90 g. chopped chestnuts
· 6 whole chestnuts
· rosemary to top
1. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly sift some flour on the parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. To make the cake, use an electric whisk or stand mixer to whisk the eggs on high speed for 5 min. Add in the sugar, vanilla, and oil and whisk on medium speed for 2 min. The mixture should be airy and pale yellow in color.
3. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and sift in the flour, salt, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet mix with a spatula. 20-30 folds should do.
4. Pour the batter into the sheet pan and use a pastry scraper to spread out the batter. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove air bubbles. Bake in the oven for 12 min. While the cake is baking, dust some powder sugar onto another piece of parchment paper (larger than the sheet pan) and set aside.
5. Once the cake is cooled, immediately flip the cake onto the other piece of parchment paper and gently remove the parchment paper that is stuck to the cake. Dust the surface with powder sugar and roll the cake up from the short end. Set aside for 2 hours.
6. In the meantime, to make the chestnut puree, combine the chestnuts, brown sugar, vanilla, and water into a medium pot. Place over medium heat uncovered. Once the chestnuts come to a boil, allow them to boil for an additional 20 min. uncovered. Some of the liquid will evaporate, resulting in a syrup reduction.
7. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool for about 10 min. Spoon out 2 tbsp. of the syrup reduction and set aside. Pour the remaining contents in the pot into a food processor or high speed blender. Add in the butter and process or blend until smooth. If the paste appears to be too thick, you can add some water until the paste forms.
8. Run the paste through a sieve and set aside. This requires some arm work!
9. In a large bowl, combine the heavy cream and sugar and whisk until whipped cream forms. Set in the fridge.
10. After the cake has set for 2 hours, unroll the cake. It is okay if there are some cracks. Measure the short side and divide that length by 3. (It should be around 3.5 to 4 inches). Cut the cake into 3 long and even strips and spread whipped cream on top. Sprinkle the chopped chestnuts over the cake and spread on some more cream.
11. Roll up one strip of the cake and attach the next strip of cake to the roll. Repeat for the third strip until the cake is formed. Spread the remaining whipped cream around the cake until the cake is covered. The cream does not have to be perfect since we are adding the chestnut puree over the cream.
12. Place the chestnut puree into a piping bag with a basket weave piping tip. Pipe the basket weave onto the cake as shown in the video. Pipe more chestnut puree onto the top of the cake with a star tip and top with whole chestnuts and rosemary. Slice to enjoy!