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Nigel Slater’s recipes for purple leaves, heat cheese and chestnuts, and for chocolate chestnut cake | meals

C.Hestnuts are right here: darkish, plump and glossy – and flat on one aspect from the place they’ve snuggled collectively of their spiky inexperienced instances. Candy chestnuts grew within the woods close to my childhood residence. I might squirrel them away in my duffel-coat pockets on the stroll residence from college. We roasted them over the hearth, the occasional one cracking like a whip, sending out a twig of nut shrapnel.

Higher, I feel, is to roast them in an oven. A deep cross on their rounded aspect will cease them exploding and expose their flesh to the warmth. That is how I cook dinner them for consuming as they’re, not worrying about eradicating the brown pores and skin. They’re arduous work, although, if you happen to intend to purée them or use them in a dessert. I at all times flip to the ready-made purée and vacuum-packed entire nuts. They are often folded right into a Christmas nut loaf, tossed with the aromatics of a pot-roast chicken or into the filling of a chocolate tart or cake.

Chestnut purée will not be a lot to have a look at, however introduce sufficient icing sugar, meringue and melted chocolate and you’ve got one of many world’s basic marriages. It saves plenty of work for the cook dinner. I wait annually for brand new season’s marrons glacés, with their fudgy texture, hoar-frost coating and origami-style gold wrappers. I am hoping for some in my stocking.

Chestnut leaves are lengthy and slim with edges just like the tooth of a noticed, and are sometimes used for wrapping goat’s cheese. You may bake one entire, in its leaf, then unwrap it and watch the molten cheese ooze out. You may want crisp toast on the aspect or slices of russet apple, toasted nuts and a cluster of bitter leaves.

Crimson leaves, heat cheese and chestnuts

Discover the small cheeses wrapped in fig leaves for this if you happen to can. Or use kitchen foil to wrap your cheeses as an alternative. Serves 4

chestnuts 200g
goat’s cheese 4, about 80g every in weight
treviso, radicchio and different purple chicory 100g whole
pears 200g
beetroot 1, small and uncooked
purple wine vinegar 2 tbsp
garlic 1 small clove
olive oil 3 tbsp
dijon mustard 1 tsp

Minimize a cross on every chestnut, then place them, in a single layer, in a roasting tin. Bake for 25 minutes at 180C/gasoline mark 4, till the uncovered nut is pale gold, then take away from the oven, cowl with a fabric and relaxation for quarter-hour. Take away the nuts from their shells – I’m not too fussy about eradicating the brown pores and skin – and crumble or chop into small items.

In case your cheeses include a fig leaf wrapping then all to the great. If not, place the cheeses on a bit of foil, wrap it loosely over them and scrunch the perimeters collectively. Bake them (they’ll share an oven with the chestnuts) for about quarter-hour till the cheese begins to ooze.

Make the dressing: peel and crush the garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. Put the paste right into a small bowl, pour within the vinegar and put aside for 10 minutes. Add the mustard to the vinegar, then beat within the olive oil with a fork.

Wash the leaves and tear into giant items. Minimize the pears into 4 or 6 items, relying on measurement – reduce out and discard the cores. Peel and slice the beetroot. Toss the pears, beets and peeled chestnuts with the dressing and depart till the cheeses are prepared.

Put the salad leaves on a serving dish, add the pears; trickle the dressing over the leaves. Place the molten cheese on high.

chocolate chestnut cake

'Offer this in thin slices': chocolate chestnut cake.
‘Provide this in skinny slices’: chocolate chestnut cake. {Photograph}: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

Provide this in skinny slices, with a spoonful of chantilly cream on the aspect. Serves 8

For the cake:
butter 250g
caster sugar 225g
self elevating flour 225g
baking powder 1 tsp
cocoa powder 30g
eggs 4
milk 4 tbsp
sizzling espresso 4 tbsp

For the filling:
darkish chocolate 250g
butter 100g
chestnut puree 400g
caster sugar 2 tbsp

To complete:
cooked chestnuts 100g
icing sugar 1 tbsp

You will want a sq. 20cm baking tin lined with baking parchment and a 20cm loaf tin for the cake.

Set the oven at 170C/gasoline mark 3. Minimize the butter into cube, put into the bowl of a meals mixer and add the caster sugar. Beat till smooth and creamy. Break the eggs right into a bowl, add the milk and beat calmly. Sift collectively the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. Add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar. In the event that they begin to curdle, add 1 heaped tbsp of the flour. Combine within the flour and cocoa, then the espresso. Cease the machine as quickly as all the things is mixed.

Switch the combination to the sq. cake tin, barely easy the floor, then bake for 35 minutes till risen and springy to the contact. Take away and put aside to chill.

Make the filling: break the chocolate into small items, place them in a heatproof bowl, then stability it over a pan of simmering water. Go away the chocolate to soften with out stirring. When it’s fully melted, reduce the butter into small items and add to the chocolate, barely stirring, till it’s melted. Combine the chestnut purée with the sugar and beat till easy with a wood spoon. Stir the purée into the melted chocolate.

Drape the oblong loaf tin with clingfilm, push it into the nook and depart some overhanging the perimeters. Minimize a slice of cake the size and width of the cake tin. Slice this into 3 horizontally, to present 3 skinny strips. Place one within the base of the tin. Add a 3rd of the chocolate chestnut combination, easy flat then place the second piece of cake on high and press firmly. Now add a second third of the chocolate combination, the remaining piece of cake after which the ultimate slice of cake.

Fold the clingfilm excessive of the tin and place within the fridge for two hours. Maintain the remaining third of the combination in its bowl over the recent water. (Though off the warmth, the combination will cool, however not set firmly.)

Flip the tin the other way up and take away the cake. Unfold the highest with the reserved chocolate combine, then adorn with cooked chestnuts and mud with icing sugar.

Observe Nigel on Instagram @NigelSlater

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