Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake

another chestnut cake shot.jpg

Chestnuts are meant to be sung about and roasted over an open fire.  Right? But can you really eat them? What do they taste like?  Can I put them in a cake? Where do I buy them?  How much do they cost?  Can I make my own chestnut sauce?

I had so many questions about this week’s selection.   Eventually, I found all the necessary ingredients.  It was a great excuse to peruse my favorite grocery stores, Whole Foods and Central Market.   The hunt was worth it.  This cake is totally off the charts when it comes to sumptuous, out-of-this-world desserts. The ganache….well….

vertical chestnut cake_edited-1.jpg
I’m back.  After tasting the ganache, I left reality for a little while. The silky texture and intense chocolate flavor was better than a Calgon bath.  I’m busy trying to think of other recipes where I can use it– maybe as a filling or another layer of flavor.

chestnutcake with pie server 1.psd

The caramel sauce presented a challenge. Making candy is not my talent and the curse continues. On the other hand, I usually have great luck with my favorite kitchen appliance, the microwave. So after my first attempt at making caramel on the stove turned into one, big, ugly crystal, I put the sugar and water in a 2 quart ovenproof batter bowl.

caramel in batter bowl.jpg

I put it in the microwave on HIGH for 4 minutes. It turned a gorgeous beautiful caramelly brown color before my eyes without me so much as laying a hand on it.  (In the picture above, I rolled the caramel around the sides so you could see the gorgeous color. The object at the bottom is a cinnamon stick.) When I poured the cream into it, the caramel immediately rebelled and seized. So I took a whisk to it. Success! Next time I will heat the cream a little bit first although it turned out great in the end the way it was.

new gold dust.jpg revised gold chestnuts.jpg

Above is a bottle of baker’s gold dust.  It was easy to brush  on the chestnuts, which came out of a can.  Of course, the gold dust is edible.  I am already planning how I can use what’s left to decorate my holiday desserts.

chestnut cake slice.jpg

One last comment about chestnuts:  My family and co-workers expected  the chestnuts to be crunchy, similar in texture to toasted pecans. But instead, they’re rather soft.  I’m wandering what roasted fresh chestnuts taste like.  Are they crunchy?  How would this cake taste with pecans instead of chestnuts.   May try that next time.

If you want to make a memorable dessert for the holidays, check out Katya’s website for the recipe and details.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy (n.o.e.) November 18, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Wow, that is one gorgeous cake! I’m halfway through making this cake, and your pictures are alternating between inspiring me and making me panic. Sorry you didn’t love it but maybe that’s a blessing in disguise, considering how much work it is.


amanda November 17, 2009 at 7:36 am

That is phenomenal! Absolutely stunning! And I love that plate, it gorgeous 🙂


AmyRuth November 10, 2009 at 11:25 pm

Ditto Jules …. looks like it belongs in a cookbook. A show stopper. Like me, I’ve noticed a lot of us are unfamiliar with chestnuts. I remember seeing fresh ones at a nearby grocery last year and wondering about them as I rolled on by. hehe Well, ding ding ding, times up and its time to try them out, right? Maybe I’ll bake this for next Tuesday if I can gather up all the necessary ingredients. Awesome job and you have very lucky coworkers, but did you like it?


Romaine November 11, 2009 at 6:01 am

AmyRuth, Did I like it? Yes. But not enough to make it again. And I would probably not do the chestnuts again although I’m glad I tried them once. However, I’m thinking about how I can use the ganache in some other recipe. It was wonderful.


Jeannette November 10, 2009 at 2:19 pm

I (sadly and reluctantly) skipped out on this one. But seeing your cake makes me want to make sure I attempt it for christmas or at least some time soon!!

It looks divine!!


Romaine November 11, 2009 at 6:02 am

If you want it for Christmas, better start now. 🙂


pamela November 9, 2009 at 7:37 pm

That cake is stunning! You did a fabulous job. I want to make this for that caramel chocolate ganache alone! :o)


Margot November 7, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Your cake is absolutely stunning! I made the cake this morning and I’m working up the nerve to start the caramel/ganache right now (I’m always burning caramel), so I am definitely appreciating the out-of-order posting this month and picking up some extra tips.


Debbie November 7, 2009 at 8:29 am

Can I come to your house and eat these wonderful dessert? Looks awesome!!


Margaret November 6, 2009 at 11:53 pm

That is one gorgeous cake. If I make it will be Hazelnuts.

Lucky you to have Whole Foods and Central Market. I love both of those.


Katrina November 6, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Wow, that really looks divine! (I bought some chestnuts last year and roasted them and they weren’t crunchy and I thought tasted strange, but it was fun to try them.) Pecans sound like a great swap!

You asked about my Chop Wizard. It’s a great chopper that I love, it chops veggies/fruits (nuts, too), with two different sizes. I’ve blogged about it a couple times and even had one for a giveaway. Love it.



Mimi November 5, 2009 at 10:37 am

Stunning!. I really wanted to make this cake, but no time last week. You have inspired me to get with it.


food.baby November 5, 2009 at 4:37 am

It’s absolutely gorgeous Romaine! I’ve never had chestnuts before so am looking forward to making it this weekend.


Steph November 4, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Your cake looks perfect!


steph (whisk/spoon) November 4, 2009 at 8:00 am

gosh, it’s so beautiful! makes me look forward to making it!


Clivia November 4, 2009 at 7:33 am

Your cake is perfect! I’m still not sure about the chestnuts though. I might use walnuts.


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella November 4, 2009 at 3:36 am

That is one absolutely stunning cake! I would imagine that this would be perfect for a Christmas dinner as it looks so lovely and festive and so special occasion! 🙂


Kayte November 3, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Goodness you make it hard for me to resist trying this…I had myself all talked out of it until I saw your post. Look how gorgeous yours is! Wow…I think this would be a stunning holiday dessert. Great job.


Susan November 3, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Your cake looks beautiful! Not many bakers did this one this week. I made it and loved it. The ganache would make great truffles (several bakers did that with leftover). Hang on the the gold dust. It won’t go bad. 🙂


Susie November 3, 2009 at 4:21 pm

a delicious cake…thanks for letting me taste test!


Cakelaw November 3, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Your cake turned out picture perfect Roamine. I love the fact that you even used the gold dust! I think pecans would be good – and I am keen on trying hazelnuts.


Jill November 3, 2009 at 11:49 am

Your cake is a work of art! The dust is great; I’d like to use that to decorate cookies.

I tried roasted chestnuts and they were soft – not at all what I was expecting. I think the candied ones are soft too, if I remember correctly.


Nina November 3, 2009 at 11:28 am

Your cake looks divine!! Beautiful job–and your photos are stunning. Good to know about the chestnut texture…I would have expected a bit of “crunch”!


Jules November 3, 2009 at 10:26 am

Holy smokes! I thought that was Dorie’s picture! I am incredibly impressed.


chocolatechic November 3, 2009 at 9:55 am

Absolutely wonderful.

Did it take long to make?


isabelle November 3, 2009 at 9:00 am

Il est tout simplement fantastique ton gâteau, Romaine ! Je me le réservais de le faire en dernier…comme pour se faire désirer ! lol ! tes photos sont superbes 🙂


miss kate November 3, 2009 at 8:06 am

Your pictures are so pretty! I see your glaze came out as it should have. I wonder what I did wrong? You could probably use the ganache for just about any cake recipe.

My favorite thing to do with luster dust is to make designs with wafer chocolate and then paint them with the dust. I also use it on cookies that I’ve decorated with royal icing. If you mix it with vodka or clear vanilla you can paint with it.


Gina November 3, 2009 at 8:03 am

Yum! This cake looks really good. I really like the gold dust on the chestnuts. Good pictures!


FRESH LOCAL AND BEST November 3, 2009 at 4:43 am

Romaine, this is a marvelous cake! The construction of the cake is simply beautiful with all of those layers, and gold dusted chestnuts. Gorgeous!


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