Chestnut was and still is one of my favorite treats. Honestly, I really don’t know why. I really like the subtle sweet nutty taste to it. I have been trying to perfect this cake or experimenting with different textures. I decided to make it as chestnut was in season. I purposely left the cake all white and piped out the decoration with whipped cream as I wanted to make the candied chestnuts stand out more. I first baked the chiffon cake on a roll pan that way it easier to bake because of surface area. I then cut out the layers of the cake using an 8 inch cake ring. Next I prepared the chestnut filling by roasting the chestnuts. A combination of Italian and Korean chestnuts were used for texture. The Italian chestnut was more fragrant and powdery in texture while the Korean chestnut possessed a sweeter and sugary taste. They complimented each other perfectly. Once the chestnuts were roasted, I proceeded to ground the chestnuts to make the paste. Cream, brandy and sweetened chestnut paste were added to the freshly ground chestnuts to add flavour and texture. When the paste was smooth, I used a star tip to pipe out the filling and assembled the layers of the cake.
For decoration, I used an idea I saw from a Japanese pastry magazine that was translated into Chinese. With a Gateau St. Honore tip, I piped out the petals or fan like design. To add colour to the white cream, freeze dried strawberries were grounded and then sifted onto the white cream to create a red and white contrast to the cake. Deciding on a clean refined look on bottom of the cake, I choose to use Callebaut pearls and lined the cake. The fun part was actually the sugar work. I had taken a course in sugar once at Debrulle now Arts Institute to make curls thus added a couple of them.
Next came the glazing of chestnuts in sugar. As a word of caution, sugar is very hot once you melt it to the hard crack stage as it hits 200F and above so be careful as anyone could potentially get burned. I speak from experience. Once the sugar was heated to the appropriated temperature, I dipped the chestnuts into them and allowed the sugar to drip off them. Eventually, you would get a crystallized stem of sugar coming from the chestnut. It was quite appealing to see as it added a 3D dimension to the cake. I allowed the sugar to set and then placed the sugar curls and glazed chestnuts onto the cake and finished. Note: You don’t need to use different varieties of chestnuts but it does add texture to the filling. Furthermore, roasting the chestnuts is optional, one could blanche the chestnuts to remove the skin and cook them but the flavour would be different; however, it was your preference.