Showing posts with label chestnuts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chestnuts. Show all posts

Friday, January 13, 2017

Chestnut Cake with Maple Icing

I’m going to call this my snowstorm cake. Not because it looks like a snowstorm (although a dusting of confectioner’s sugar could take care of that pretty fast) but because I was snowed in all day this past Sunday (17.6 inches!), and I wanted to bake.

I had all the necessities—flour, butter, eggs—but I wanted to experiment with nuts. Except I forgot that my daughter had cleaned out my nut supply over the holidays when she was visiting. Which left one lonely little package of . . . chestnuts?

I have never cooked with chestnuts. I bought the package because I’d never seen it for sale before. Why not give it a shot? I set out to find a recipe for something baked that included chestnuts.

I came up with some odd and interesting ideas, both sweet and savory, but the only one that grabbed my attention was a 1999 recipe from Bon Appetit (I used to love that magazine!) for a cake flavored with maple syrup. Aha! I had plenty of maple syrup (which I bought in Granby, Massachusetts, from the Parker family, whose sugar house I visited because I always wanted to see how maple syrup was made). So I was off to the races.

As you may have noticed, we here at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen seldom leave a recipe alone—we tinker with it, we swap out ingredients, and we have fun. That’s true in this case. The original recipe called for mashing up half the chestnuts and combining them with some of the other ingredients. I tried, really, I did. These chestnuts, soft and lovely though they might be, would not mash. I gave up and just threw the chopped bits in (the other half of them get scattered on top but then disappear into the batter). It all came out fine.

And wait until you get to the icing part—it’s wicked! And easy.

Chestnut Cake with Maple Glaze

For the Cake:

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-3/4 cups peeled roasted chestnuts (12 oz) or jarred chestnuts (8 oz)
3/4 cup plus 1 Tblsp light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (real) maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8x8x2 baking pan. [Confession: I don’t have one, so I used a 9" springform pan, which is roughly the same volume. It worked fine.)

Sift together the dry ingredients.

Coarsely chop the chestnuts. Split into two equal parts.

The chestnuts (they are peeled)
A single chestnut
The chestnuts, chopped

Mix 3/4 cup brown sugar, butter, maple syrup and vanilla in the bowl of your stand mixer, or mix with hand-held mixer. Beat until well-blended.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each.

Beat in flour mixture. Stir in half the chopped chestnuts.

Spread the batter in the pan. Sprinkle the top with the remaining chopped chestnuts, and the extra Tblsp of brown sugar.

Ready for the oven

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tester comes out with only a few moist crumbs.

Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan on a rack.


For the Icing:

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 Tblsp maple syrup

In a small bowl, blend the powdered sugar, melted butter and maple syrup and beat until there are no lumps and the icing forms thick ribbons.

Pour over the cooled cake.

Let stand until icing is set (about 20 minutes).

My verdict? The chestnuts have a mild pleasant flavor and add an interesting chewy texture to the cake. I would make this one again, if I ever find a package (or a jar or can?) of chestnuts again. The icing I would eat with a spoon any time!

In case you haven't heard, I'll be starting a new Victorian Village series--the first book will come out in 2018. It's so new, there are no pretty pictures yet! It's about a magnificent mansion that hasn't been touched for a century, in a small town that's desperate for a new venture to bring in tourist dollars and keep the town alive--and the woman who comes up with an idea to save the town.

But before that, Cruel Winter! Coming March 14th.

Yes, it does snow in Ireland! Spoiler alert: the snow melts.

Find it for preorder at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving from Mystery Lovers' Kitchen

LUCY BURDETTE: Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers at Mystery Lovers Kitchen! We're grateful for all of you mystery and food-loving fans! And we hope you're settling down with your favorite people, ready to tuck into your favorite Thanksgiving food.

At my house, we'll have the standard turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes, with my side of the family represented by mashed turnips and brussel sprouts from my hub's. If it was left up to me, I could skip the stuffing and save the calories for chocolate cream pie:). But other folks can't do without so I'll be making cornbread/sausage stuffing too. What's happening in your kitchens?

SHEILA CONNOLLY: My family traditions were incredibly trite--turkey, stuffing (Pepperidge Farm, from the bag), mashed potatoes, gravy (at least that was homemade!), and something green that I've blotted out (peas? frozen, of course).  And Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, straight from the can (which I actually like). But I will say that after I got married my husband became the Pumpkin Pie King--from scratch!

PEG COCHRAN: We always had the Ocean Spray from the can, too!  The jellied kind so it slid out intact onto this little crystal dish that I don't think my mother ever used for anything else.  My grandmother cooked and brought the turkey, which as my cousin pointed out, had been in the oven so long all you had to do was tap it, and it fell to pieces.  My mother did make really yummy candied sweet potatoes though! 

And every year, my grandmother would admonish my mother to "save the potato water" because she used it to thicken the gravy.  And as we sat down to eat she would say, "God sends the food, the devil sends the cook."

KRISTA DAVIS: We had a fairly traditional roast turkey dinner with stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce (still one of my favorites), although we always had German red cabbage with chestnuts as a side dish. Dessert fluctuated between pecan pie and pumpkin pie and was sometimes a combination of the two, but there was never a shortage of the sweetened whipped cream that belonged on top! (The photo is Lucy's pies from last year--pumpkin/maple and chocolate cream.)

LUCY: Oh, I love red cabbage Krista--you'll have to post that recipe for us!

AVERY AAMES, A.K.A. DARYL WOOD GERBER: We always had the traditional roast turkey with stuffing dinner, too. Homemade cranberry sauce - so easy! (Though my husband still likes it out of a can.) I have to laugh, my stepson's son (I'm not a "grandmother" yet; I sleep with the grandfather. LOL)...anyway little Desmond discovered fresh cranberry sauce last year, at the age of 1 1/2, and he almost ate the entire bowlful! He adored it!!  Often we started with a yummy soup. So comforting during colder months. We also had traditional green beans smothered with cream of mushroom soup and onions rings. Now that I can't have that casserole (thanks to the gluten in it), I've switched to fresh green beans for my family...but I think this year I'm going to try a homemade version because I can still taste those yummy beans. Yams...never my thing but others adored them with the marshmallows. Pumpkin pie. I can eat pumpkin by for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And a good sauvignon blanc. (Okay, I didn't get that as a girl, but now...)

ANNIE KNOX, A.K.A. WENDY LYN WATSON:  To the extent my family has rituals, they revolved around the Thanksgiving table.  First, we always, always, always had dinner at 2:00 PM.  Always.

We invariably started the meal with green salad (which is actually a green gelatin-based concoction, with cream cheese, whipped topping, and pineapple tidbits).  We had to have a crystal dish with sweet gherkins and black olives (which all the kids ate off their fingers).  Brown-n-serve rolls (no fancy artisanal bread, thank you very much).   Green beans laced with bacon.  Turkey and stuffing (two kinds:  in the bird stuffing and out of the bird stuffing ... which was made with canned oysters).  My Gram's amazing gravy.  Pumpkin pie with whipped cream from a can. 
    And then there was the passing rule:  always pass the dishes clockwise.

Now that Mr. Wendy and I are vegetarian, we've had to put aside most of these rituals.  All of them, really, except for the black olives.  Black olives rule.

CLEO COYLE: Almost every Thanksgiving morning, when I was a little girl, I was woken by the muffled clanging of pots and pans and the savory smells of cooking coming from my family's kitchen. I would open my eyes to the first light of dawn and wander through the house in my pajamas, still yawning, eyes half-open, to find my mother and Aunt Mary already hard at work in the kitchen, getting the huge turkey ready for roasting. My mother would be at the stove, frying up the turkey innards in butter and olive oil, my aunt would be sitting at the kitchen table, slicing up Italian chestnuts. My favorite dish was their stuffing, too. In fact, I didn't even have to wait for dinner. Thanksgiving breakfast was always a bowl of that freshly made chestnut stuffing. It is one of the best foodie memories of my life and remains a tradition to this day. So here’s to old memories—and new ones. This and every year...May you all eat with Thanksgiving joy! ~ Cleo


~ Mystery Lovers' Kitchen