Caramel Chestnut Chocolate Cake {gluten-free}

When I saw the subject of the email I recently received from Edda Onorato’s food blog Un déjeuner de soleil, I knew it was a recipe I had to make: “Caramel Chocolate Cake”. I wondered what the caramel part was all about, and as luck would have it, the caramel is mixed with the chocolate ganache used to ice the cake. This makes the ganache even better, in my humble opinion, because the caramel gives it a slightly toasty taste, which helps cut some of the sweetness and add another flavour dimension. The cake itself is also divine, with nutty chestnut flour taking the place of wheat flour, creating a brownie-like (yet somehow still light) base for the ganache. And, to top it all off, there is nut praline! This is certainly one of the most richly flavoured and decadent cakes I’ve ever made.

Edda states that this is a simple cake to make…and I think I agree…but it does take a bit of planning and preparation to make sure that everything runs smoothly. I’m prone to flipping spoons onto the floor, etc. when I have more than one pan on the go, so unless you’re really coordinated, I suggest completing the different steps of the cake at different times.

The original recipe is in French, so along with my rusty translation skills and some help from Google, here is my only slightly modified version of Edda’s gorgeous cake recipe:

*note: I’m only using the weight measurements here, as Edda does, because it’s more precise, and it’s rather difficult to measure chocolate and nuts with volume measurement…

Caramel Chestnut Chocolate Cake
6 servings

Ingredients:

For the nut praline (can be prepared up to three days ahead):

60g pecans
80g granulated or caster sugar
30g salted butter

For the ganache (make at least 4 hours ahead):

300ml whipping cream
100g dark chocolate (ideally 60% cocoa) chopped
100g milk chocolate (ideally 40% cocoa) chopped
100g caster sugar
40g salted butter

For the chestnut-chocolate cake:

170g dark chocolate (ideally 60-70% cocoa)
100g salted butter
3 large eggs
70g caster sugar
60g chestnut flour

Instructions:

To prepare the nut praline:

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Scatter nuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat, and roast for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the 80g sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan with 3 tablespoons of water and bring to a boil over medium heat to melt the sugar. Add the butter and pecans while the nuts are still warm. The sugar will be slightly grainy at first, but as you continue to stir and cook, the sugar will melt and form a golden caramel coating over the nuts (this will take about 10 minutes).

Pour the caramel and nuts onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and let cool. Break into shards and keep in a box away from moisture at room temperature for up to three days.

To prepare the ganache:

Prepare at least four hours in advance, because the ganache needs to be completely chilled before it can be whipped into an icing-like consistency. To begin, place the chopped dark and milk chocolates into a large, heat-proof bowl and set aside. Then, pour the 100g sugar into a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan. Melt the sugar over medium heat, without stirring, until it turns a golden brown colour. Heat 200ml of the cream in a separate saucepan. When the sugar has caramelized, add the butter, stir, and then pour in the hot cream (be careful of hot sputtering sugar). Stir until the sugar and cream meld together into a smooth liquid, then pour onto the chopped chocolate. Stir the cream/caramel/chocolate mixture gently until it’s well blended, add the remaining 100ml cream and mix well. Place this in the fridge to cool for about four hours (or 30 minutes in the freezer if you’re short on time).

To prepare the cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter your cake pan, line bottom with parchment paper (I used an 8″ round cake pan) and wrap the bottom of the pan with tin foil and set on a baking sheet.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double-boiler over very low heat (or in the microwave). When eggs and sugar are whisked, add the melted chocolate in two batches, stirring gently between each addition, then add the sifted chestnut flour and stir gently until just combined.

Carefully pour the cake batter into your prepared pan, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes (check at 15 minutes – mine was well done at 18 minutes). The cake should be just pulling away from the edges of the pan, and maybe cracking a bit on top, but still slightly moist in the centre, somewhat like a brownie. When slightly cooled, carefully tip out of pan and transfer to a cooling rack.

To assemble the cake:

When the cake has completely cooled, it’s ready to be iced. Take the cold ganache out of the fridge, and whip with either a hand or standing mixer at medium speed until it becomes lighter and mousse-like. Be careful to not over whip, as it can become grainy. Place the ganache in a piping bag and pipe ganache in whatever design you like over the cake. Garnish with the nut praline fragments.

*Another note…if you want to make this cake, but it seems like too much time and/or work, the nut praline could be left out, and the cake would still be delicious!

I was almost afraid to calculate the oxalates in this one…it’s definitely not low! Each 100g of chocolate has at least 100mg of oxalates, so there’s at least 370mg with the chocolate, then the chestnut flour has about 30mg, and the pecans about 30mg as well. This makes each slice contain about 72mg of oxalates! The other ingredients have little to none, and the large quantity of whipping cream will cancel out some of the oxalates, but who knows how much… I had only a small slice with a glass of milk, and took lots of calcium/magnesium with it…definitely an occasional treat only. This could be made a bit lower with the use of all milk chocolate and leaving out the pecan praline.

Printable Version:

Caramel Chestnut Chocolate Cake {gluten-free}

Ingredients

For the nut praline (can be prepared up to three days ahead):

  • 60 g pecans
  • 80 g granulated sugar
  • 30 g salted butter

For the ganache (make at least 4 hours ahead):

  • 300 ml whipping cream
  • 100 g dark chocolate ideally 60% cocoa chopped
  • 100 g milk chocolate ideally 40% cocoa chopped
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 40 g salted butter

For the chestnut-chocolate cake:

  • 170 g dark chocolate ideally 60-70% cocoa
  • 100 g salted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 70 g caster sugar
  • 60 g chestnut flour

Instructions

To prepare the nut praline:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Scatter nuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat, and roast for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, pour the 80g sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan with 3 tablespoons of water and bring to a boil over medium heat to melt the sugar. Add the butter and pecans while the nuts are still warm. The sugar will be slightly grainy at first, but as you continue to stir and cook, the sugar will melt and form a golden caramel coating over the nuts (this will take about 10 minutes).
  3. Pour the caramel and nuts onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and let cool. Break into shards and keep in a box away from moisture at room temperature for up to three days.

To prepare the ganache:

  1. Prepare at least four hours in advance, because the ganache needs to be completely chilled before it can be whipped into an icing-like consistency. To begin, place the chopped dark and milk chocolates into a large, heat-proof bowl and set aside. Then, pour the 100g sugar into a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan. Melt the sugar over medium heat, without stirring, until it turns a golden brown colour.
  2. Heat 200ml of the cream in a separate saucepan.
  3. When the sugar has caramelized, add the butter, stir, and then pour in the hot cream (be careful of hot sputtering sugar).
  4. Stir until the sugar and cream meld together into a smooth liquid, then pour onto the chopped chocolate. Stir the cream/caramel/chocolate mixture gently until it's well blended, add the remaining 100ml cream and mix well.
  5. Place this in the fridge to cool for about four hours (or 30 minutes in the freezer if you're short on time).

To prepare the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter your cake pan, line bottom with parchment paper (I used an 8" round cake pan) and wrap the bottom of the pan with tin foil and set on a baking sheet.
  2. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl until light and fluffy.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double-boiler over very low heat (or in the microwave).
  4. When eggs and sugar are whisked, add the melted chocolate in two batches, stirring gently between each addition, then add the sifted chestnut flour and stir gently until just combined.
  5. Carefully pour the cake batter into your prepared pan, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes (check at 15 minutes - mine was well done at 18 minutes). The cake should be just pulling away from the edges of the pan, and maybe cracking a bit on top, but still slightly moist in the centre, somewhat like a brownie.

To assemble the cake:

  1. When the cake has completely cooled, it's ready to be iced. Take the cold ganache out of the fridge, and whip with either a hand or standing mixer at medium speed until it becomes lighter and mousse-like. Be careful to not over whip, as it can become grainy.
  2. Place the ganache in a piping bag and pipe ganache in whatever design you like over the cake. Garnish with the nut praline fragments.
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