I have somewhat of an obsession with chestnuts at Christmas. They're such a delicate but distinctly flavoured nut and I always associate them with happy occasions. Usually because when I eat them they're in a cake form and that qualifies as a happy occasion for me (cake eating). This festive chestnut cake is roughly inspired by a cake that I had in Italy but it's really quite different. The cake sits on a chestnut shortbread (so delicious!) and is topped with a layer of meringue and then whipped cream studded with marron glaces, sweetened chestnut cream and a whole marron glace with gold leaf.
Chestnut Cream Dessert
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4 marron glaces, 3 of them chopped up, 1 left whole
Gold leaf to decorate
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Beta the butter and sugar together until pale on medium high speed using a beater attachment. On low speed add the chestnut, rice and plain flour and salt. Shape into a ball and roll out to a 20cm/8 inch round. You can make a pattern around the edge if you like. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Prick holes with a fork and bake for 10-12 minutes.
Step 2 - Preheat oven to 100C/212F. Line a baking tray with parchment and trace a large circle around 20cms/8inches in diameter. On medium to high speed, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and pour sugar in a steady stream. Whip until stiff peaks form and you can tip the meringue upside down without it moving.
Step 3 - Place the meringue in a piping bag fitted with a 1M large star tip. Pipe in a circular pattern. Bake for 2 hours and then turn off the oven and allow to cool completely in oven.
Step 4 - Spread some of the chestnut puree on the chestnut shortbread and gently place the cooled meringue disc on top.
Step 5 - Whip the cream until you get a pipeable texture. Place half of this in a piping bag fitted with a 1M star tip. Place a third of the chestnut puree in a piping bag fitted with a small star tip.
Step 6 - Mix the chopped marron glaces with the remaining half of the whipped cream and dollop this in the centre on top of the meringue. Pipe the whipped cream in patterns as well as the sweetened chestnut puree. Place the whole marron glace on top with the gold leaf on top. This can be made a couple of hours ahead of time but it is not recommended for transportation.