chocolate cake and chestnuts

The Carpenters Christmas album is on heavy rotation, my stockings are hung, tree is up and that can only mean one thing. It’s officially cake month. With that said, I have a serious quandary. The problem is this: There are only 31 days in December and at least 15 cakes I want to bake. I better get to it and STAT. I’m kicking things off with a flourless chocolate cake topped with maple-roasted chestnuts. The cake lasts 5 days in the fridge and reheats beautifully so it’s perfect for making ahead of time for your holiday fête. I got the idea for the chestnuts en papillote from Food 52 but flavored them with cinnamon and cardamom instead. The recipe makes a lot of chestnut topping, but the leftovers are pretty dreamy reheated and served on yogurt or oatmeal.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Maple-Cardamom Roasted Chestnuts


For the chestnuts:

1 lb. roasted and peeled chestnuts (I like to buy the jarred ones that are already roasted)

6 tbsp. unsalted butter

1/3 c. maple syrup

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. cardamom

big pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prepare a baking sheet with a parchment paper bag (or envelope made with parchment paper).

Roughly chop the chestnuts and place in the bag along with the rest of the ingredients and 1 cup water. Seal or pinch the bag closed and roast for 5 minutes. Using tongs, give the bag a shake to stir up the contents. Continue roasting for 15 to 20 minutes until the chestnuts have softened. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before opening the bag.

Store leftovers in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to a week. To reheat, warm in a pan over low heat with a splash of water.


For the cake:

200 g. dark chocolate (I used 70%), roughly chopped

12 tbsp. unsalted butter

1/4 c. brewed coffee

2 c. almond meal

pinch of sea salt

5 eggs, room temperature, yolks and white separated


2 Tbsp. coconut sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

finely shredded coconut (or powdered sugar), for dusting


Preheat the oven to 320°F. Grease and line a 9-inch round cake pan.

Using the bain-marie technique, set a heat-proof bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Add  the chocolate and butter to the bowl and melt, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the coffee, almond meal and salt until combined.

Beat together the egg yolks, coconut sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Add to the chocolate mixture and stir until combined. With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold half of the egg whites into the cake batter and repeat with the other half.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Do not over-bake or the cake will be dry! Cool the cake in the pan. To serve, top with Maple-Cardamom Roasted Chestnuts and dust with shredded coconut.


The cake will last about 5 days tightly wrapped in the fridge. I found that it reheats well in the oven but also tastes pretty great cold or at room temperature.

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