Delicious & Easy chocolate Chestnut Cake

"On Saint Martin´s day, bread chestnuts and wine!" So dictates tradition. Nothing heralds the arrival of  autumn more than chestnuts. November 11 is St. Martin’s Day, and here in Portugal it is  a celebration of autumn’s bounty and the ripening of both the chestnuts and the year’s new wine. This celebration is called Magusto .On this day the Portuguese gather around bonfires, fireplaces or even stoves to drink, talk, laugh, eat chestnuts, and celebrate (traditionally) the bountiful harvest and coming winter rest. Before the introduction of potatoes from the New World, chestnuts were a staple starch in the Portuguese diet, and a good harvest meant families could comfortably weather the lean winter months. For those of you wondering what to do with them there are more ways beyond roasting them over the proverbial open fire. If you've wondered if there's something creative you can do with them, the answer is yes. You can turn chestnuts into flour, use them in a salad, or puree them to be spread on toast, as a filling for a cake or use them to make ice cream. While you can buy canned
sweetened chestnut puree,such as the original Clement Fourgier French recipe it's hard to beat making your own. This recipe (below) for sweetened chestnut puree can be used in many desserts, .
Chestnut cake, or Ardéchois, named after the region it originates from, l'Ardéche in Southern France, is a light and moist cake. Made with chestnut spread and a few other pantry ingredients, this is an amazing treat to enjoy with your coffee or tea. This delicious cake has an airy texture and has a buttery nutty taste. Although, there are a few different versions around the world: Japanese, Hungarian or Italian, this French one is probably the best and certainly the easiest to bake. It uses chestnut spread, ou crème de marron, which translates as chestnut cream , there is no cream in it, just pureed chestnuts. Also, it calls for regular all-purpose flour and no chestnut flour.

For the chestnut spread
1 3/4 pounds raw chestnuts
1 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Centre a rack in the oven and heat to 200 C. Cut an "x" into the flat side of each chestnut shell. Place the chestnuts in a single layer on a rimmed sheet pan.
Roast until the shells begin to peel back, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes. Peel the shells and let the chestnuts cool completely.
In a medium saucepan, bring the chestnuts, sugar, and water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, 25 to 35 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Strain the chestnuts, reserving the liquid.
Blend chestnuts in a food processor until smooth. While the food processor is running, slowly add as much reserved liquid as necessary through the food chute to achieve the desired consistency.
Let cool completely before refrigerating.

Chocolate chestnut cake
2 large eggs
½ cup butter
1 cup chestnut spread
100g chocolate pieces
20 cl milk
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Pre-heat the oven to 180c
In a small bowl, melt the butter and chocolate over a medium heat.
In a large bowl, pour the wet ingredients: eggs, melted butter, chestnut spread and milk. Mix well until smooth.Progressively add the flour and the baking powder, mix until smooth.
Pour the batter into a round cake tin, previously greased if necessary.
Bake for 30 minutes or when the tip of your knife comes out dry when you prick your cake in the middle.


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