Sometimes, ideas are planted long before they need to come into fruition.
I bring these souvenirs home and place them in my pantry. There they sit and wait until it is their time to fulfill their destiny. You can't mess with destiny, people. It's just not right. Like this jar of chestnut cream that came home with me from Chelsea Market on a trip to The City earlier this summer. (I think a bottle of truffle oil may have come home with me at that time as well...these things just happen, you know).
So, the treasured jar of chestnut cream waited. And waited. And waited. For it's perfect match.
And then the moment finally arrived. I needed a dessert to serve with this duck dinner. In researching menu options, I discovered that chestnuts were a suitable pairing for duck. At this point, the low-watt light bulb that sometimes turns on in my brain lit up.
Dessert! I totally needed a chestnut dessert.
First I rummaged through the cookbook collection. Nothing was doing it for me. At that point, I did what any modern day gal would have done a half-hour earlier - I Googled my options. Narrowed down my choices. Crossed my fingers. Picked what I hoped would be a winner.
And that, my friends is the how a little jar of chestnut cream met it's date with destiny.
If I had only known how fabulous that destiny was going to be, I would have come home with more than one jar... If you haven't tried it, chestnut cream is pretty amazing stuff. I used a spatula (and maybe even a finger or two) to get every possible drop out of the jar.
Oh, and the cake was pretty kick-butt too...
Adapted from Canadian Living
For the cake:
2 whole eggs, room temperature
3 eggs, separated, room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup unbleached-all purpose flour
For the filling:
2 cups heavy cream (cold)
3 Tbs cognac
1 cup sweetened chestnut spread
1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely grated
Grease the sides & bottoms of three 8" round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper & very lightly grease. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, add the yolks of three eggs and two whole eggs. Beat in one-half of the sugar (1/4 cup + 2 Tbs) until light & fluffy. 2-3 minutes. Beat in butter, vanilla & salt. Set aside.
In a second bowl (make sure it is clean & dry), beat the egg whites until they foam. Beat in the remaining sugar - 1 Tbs at a time until the mixture reaches soft peak. Fold 1/2 of the egg yolk mixture into the egg-white mixture. Then fold in 1/2 of the flour. Fold in remaining egg-yolk mixture and then remainder of flour. Divide evenly amongst the three prepared pans. Give the pans each a good "thwack" to push out any air bubbles. (Alternatively, you can bake the cake in one pan and slice into three layers - just bake longer).
Bake in pre-heated 350F oven until cake springs back when touched. (Start checking at ~10-12 minutes - these layers bake up pretty quickly). Once done, remove from oven. Let cool in pan on rack. Run knife around the edge of the pan, if needed to loosen them. Invert onto a rack & peel off paper.
To make the Chestnut Cream Filling: In a large bowl, whip together the heavy cream & the Cognac. Fold in 1/4 cup of the chestnut cream and half of the chocolate.
To assemble: Place the first layer onto a flat cake plate. Spread 1/4 of the chestnut cream onto the first layer. Spread 1/3 of the whipped cream filling over the coated layer. Place second cake layer on top of the topped first layer. Repeat steps with chestnut cream & whipped topping. Follow with third layer, then chestnut cream & whipped topping. You can pipe the whipped topping if you are feeling fancy-schmancy. If you are in a rustic mood, just spread it on. Your house - your rules.
Sprinkle the remaining chocolate over top. It makes the cake look pretty. Do it.
Refrigerate assembled cake for about an hour - to give the flavors a chance to meld & to firm things up.