Nigel Slater’s recipes for red leaves, warm cheese and chestnuts, and for chocolate chestnut cake | Food

VSthe hazelnuts are there: dark, plump and shiny – and flat on one side from where they’ve nestled in their prickly green cases. Chestnuts grew in the woods near my childhood home. I put them in the pockets of my duffel on my way home from school. We roasted them over the fire, one of them occasionally cracking like a whip, sending up a shower of slivers.

The best, I think, is to roast them in the oven. A deep cross on their rounded side will prevent them from exploding and expose their flesh to heat. This is how I cook them to eat them as they are, without worrying about removing the brown skin. It’s hard work, however, if you intend to puree them or use them in a dessert. I always go for the ready-made mash and the vacuum-packed whole nuts. They can be folded into one Christmas nut bread, mixed with the flavors of a braised bird or in the filling of a pie or chocolate cake.

Chestnut puree might not have much to do with it, but throw in enough icing sugar, meringue and melted chocolate and you have one of the world’s classic combinations. This saves a lot of work for the cook. Every year I look forward to the new season’s candied chestnuts, with their melting texture, their frosty coating and their origami-style golden wrappers. I hope so in my bottom.

Chestnut leaves are long and thin with edges like the teeth of a saw, and are often used to wrap goat cheese. You can cook one whole, in its foil, then unwrap it and watch the melted cheese ooze out. You’ll need crispy toast on the side or russet apple slices, toasted walnuts and a bunch of bitter leaves.

Red leaves, hot cheese and chestnuts

Find the small cheeses wrapped in fig leaves for this if you can. Or use foil to wrap your cheeses instead. For 4 people

chestnuts 200g
goat cheeses 4, about 80g each in weight
treviso, radicchio and other red endives 100g in total
pears 200g
beet 1, small and crude
Red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons
Garlic 1 small clove
olive oil 3 tablespoons
Dijon Mustard 1 teaspoon

Cut a cross on each chestnut, then place them, in a single layer, in a roasting pan. Bake for 25 minutes at 180°C/thermostat 4, until the exposed nut is light golden brown, then remove from the oven, cover with a kitchen towel and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Remove the walnuts from their shells – I’m not too picky at removing the brown skin – and crumble them or cut them into small pieces.

If your cheeses come with a fig leaf wrapper, so much the better. Alternatively, place the cheeses on a piece of aluminum foil, roll it up loosely and crease the edges together. Bake them (they can share an oven with the chestnuts) for about 15 minutes until the cheese starts to ooze.

Prepare the vinaigrette: peel and crush the garlic into a paste with a pinch of salt. Put the dough in a small bowl, pour the vinegar and leave for 10 minutes. Add the mustard to the vinegar, then stir in the olive oil with a fork.

Wash the leaves and tear them into large pieces. Cut the pears into 4 or 6 pieces, depending on size – cut out and discard the cores. Peel and slice the beet. Toss the pears, beets and peeled chestnuts with the vinaigrette and leave until the cheeses are ready.

Put the lettuce leaves on a serving platter, add the pears; pour dressing over leaves. Place the melted cheese on top.

Chocolate chestnut cake

“Offer this in thin slices”: chestnut and chocolate cake.
“Offer this in thin slices”: chestnut and chocolate cake. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

Offer it in thin slices, with a spoonful of whipped cream on the side. For 8 people

For the cake:
Butter 250g
caster sugar 225g
self-rising flour 225g
baking powder 1 teaspoon
cocoa powder 30g
eggs 4
Milk 4 tablespoons
hot espresso 4 tablespoons

For the filling:
dark chocolate 250g
Butter 100g
chestnut puree 400g
caster sugar 2 tablespoons

To finish:
cooked chestnuts 100g
icing sugar 1 tbsp

You will need a 20cm square tin lined with parchment paper and a 20cm cake tin for the cake.

Set the oven to 170°C/thermostat 3. Cut the butter into cubes, put it in the bowl of a mixer and add the caster sugar. Beat until soft and creamy. Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the milk and beat lightly. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. Add eggs to creamed butter and sugar. If they start to curdle, add 1 heaped tablespoon of flour. Stir in the flour and cocoa, then the coffee. Stop the machine as soon as everything is combined.

Transfer the mixture to the square cake pan, lightly smooth the surface, then bake for 35 minutes until puffed and springy to the touch. Remove and let cool.

Prepare the filling: Break the chocolate into small pieces, place them in a heatproof bowl, then swirl it over a pot of simmering water. Let the chocolate melt without stirring. When completely melted, cut the butter into small pieces and add to the chocolate, stirring lightly until melted. Mix the chestnut purée with the sugar and beat until smooth with a wooden spoon. Add the puree to the melted chocolate.

Cover the rectangular cake tin with cling film, press it into the corner and let the edges stick out. Cut a slice of cake the length and width of the cake tin. Cut it in 3 horizontally, to obtain 3 thin strips. Place one in the bottom of the mold. Add a third of the chocolate chestnut mixture, smooth flat then place the second piece of cake on top and press down firmly. Now add a second third of the chocolate mixture, the remaining piece of cake and then the last slice of cake.

Fold the cling film over the top of the mold and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Keep the remaining third of the mixture in his bowl over the hot water. (Although off the heat, the mixture will cool, but not harden firmly.)

Turn the pan upside down and remove the cake. Spread the top with the reserved chocolate mixture, then decorate with cooked chestnuts and sprinkle with icing sugar.

Follow Nigel on Instagram @NigelSlater

source :

About the author


Leave a Comment