The first snow – the first real snow of the season – the one that sticks – the one that doesn’t melt away as the sun climbs up into the sky. The one that is thick enough to play in and even to taste. Is there anything more magical?
I think not.
In French, the word for a thick snowfall is “manteau” – literally, an overcoat.
The earth is buttoning up, donning layers and falling asleep under a thick white blanket. Snowflakes kiss the blades of grass asleep – wishing them the sweetest of dreams. It is time to hibernate, time to cuddle, and time to make snow angels. Honestly, it is my favorite time of year.
We were in Zermatt last weekend – wedding preparations – c’est un cauchmare mais… il y avait un snowfall! A beautiful surprise storm met with smiles, umbrellas, boots and long down jackets. It was a heavenly city escape.
And on our way home, riding the train down through the valley below, I spotted a freshly fallen leaves poking out from their winter’s bed. As corny as this sounds, I couldn’t help but wish them a good night’s sleep and smile at the thought of all the snowflakes yet to fall.
The glacier has stopped melting, the waterfalls have come to a temporary halt. Winter is upon us and mother nature is fully prepared.
And in honor of this commencement, a cake – a cake of chestnuts and chocolate – of honey and hazelnuts. By chance, this happens to be gluten and sugar free (depending on your choice of chocolate) – you would never know it.
I’ve mentioned that my darling fiancé has quite strong opinions regarding food. He is truly French and truly Swiss – and I truly wouldn’t change him – but he truly detests the idea of a “cake.” You can’t really blame him.
In France you need a license to sell croissants while the global perception of cake has come to be associated with a semi-ready powder in a red box on the supermarket shelf. That said, he can’t keep his fork out of this little guy. He claims it’s not a “cake.” He’s wrong. It is a cake – but it is a good cake… filled with honey and chestnut puree, bound with toasted hazelnuts and fortified with stiffly beaten egg whites. It is a cake from another era – one your granny would have loved – and it is divine.
It’s a long story but I currently don’t have access to many cake pans. I’ve poured this batter into tart pans, bundt pans even a roasting dish. The ideal would be a 8-10” Springform pan. Obviously cook times will vary – just toothpick test it. Regardless of it’s shape – it’s delicious.
Cozy up and Enjoy!
Bisous from Paris xx
Gâteau aux Marrons, Noisettes et Chocolat (Gluten-Free)
Adapted From (I’m terrible, I have completely forgotten the name of the darling book but I promise to update soon!)
- 5 Large Eggs, separated
- 200 g Honey
- 100g Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- 500 g Chestnut Puree
- 100 g Ground Hazelnuts – Walnuts work wonderfully as well (regardless of the nut, I toast them first) + 2 tbs for ‘flouring’ your cake mould
- zest of 1 Lemon
- 100-150 g Dark Chocolate, cut into medium chunks (60-70% cocoa)
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F) Grease and flour your cake mould (I ‘floured’ with extra ground hazelnuts.
- Mix egg yolk and honey in a large bowl until thick. Add the softened butter, chestnuts, ground nuts, lemon zest and chocolate. **Make sure the butter is fully incorporated – you do not want chunks of butter floating around in your cake. Once the butter is room temperature – put it in the microwave for 10 – 15 sec max. This should give you a great working consistency**
- Whisk egg whites into stiff peaks. Mix 1/3 of the whites into the honey chestnut mix. Fold in the remaining 2/3 being careful not to deflate all your whites.
- Pour into mould and bake for 50-1 hr (check around 30/40 min) When cake is does, toothpick tester should come out slightly moist with a few wet crumbs. Allow to come to room temperature/slightly warm and serve with Cherry Compote and Double Cream.