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Gluten-free Chocolate Chestnut Cake

 INGREDIENTS

  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70-72% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons dark rum (I like Gosling’s Black Seal Black Rum)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick)  butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 7 large eggs, separated
  • 16 ounces (2 cups), unsweetened chestnut purée
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Whipped Cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

PREP

  1. For the cake, adjust an oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch spring form pan. Wrap the outside of the pan with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil; set aside.  Bring a large pot of water to the boil.
  2. Combine the chocolate with the rum in a small saucepan. Set the pan into a larger pan with hot water over medium heat and whisk occasionally until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the pan from the water and set it aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until it is soft and creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually beat in 1/3 cup of the sugar, and continue beating for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and light. Add the yolks one at a time, beating well after each. Stop to scrape the bowl and beater occasionally. Add the chestnut puree and beat for 1 minute. Scrape the chocolate mixture into the batter (it’s all right if the chocolate is still warm) and beat it in on low speed just until incorporated.
  4. In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the whites with the salt on medium speed until soft peaks form. While beating on medium speed, add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat about 20 seconds between additions. Scrape the bowl, and beat on medium high speed until the whites form stiff, glossy peaks when the beaters are raised.
  5. Stir about one-fourth of the whites into the stiff chocolate mixture. Gradually, in 3 or 4 additions, fold in the remaining whites. You needn’t do too thorough a folding job with the first 3 additions. Fold in the last of the whites only until no whites show. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  6.  Set the pan into a large baking or roasting pan, and add boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the spring form. Place in the oven. Bake for 60 minutes, or until the cake feels firm on top and a toothpick comes out with just a little chocolate sticking to it.
  7. Remove the cake pan with the foil from the water bath and set it onto a wire rack. When completely cool, remove the foil from around the cake pan and remove the sides of the pan.  Cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or two, or overnight.
  8. Whip the cream, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar until thick. To serve, dip a sharp knife into hot water, shake off the excess, and make the first cut. Continue this process of dipping and shaking with each cut. Place portions of the cake on dessert plates with a spoonful of the whipped cream alongside. Or pipe the cream through a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.  Decorate each serving with a fresh raspberry. This dessert keeps well for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

 

          How to puree fresh chestnuts:

With a sharp knife, slash the flat side of each chestnut. Place in large saucepan; add enough cold water to cover chestnuts. Bring to boiling; boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat; peel off outer shell and inner brown skin. Return the shelled nuts to boiling water in saucepan. Cook 35 minutes more or until tender, adding more liquid if necessary; drain. Puree chestnuts through a sieve or food mill.