Total Time
1hr 45mins
Prep 1 hr
Cook 45 mins

This is a 'show off' cake. Not easy, but it's not for every day. Definitely something to grace your dessert table over the holidays.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. For cake: Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Butter two, 8 inch round cake pans.
  3. Line with parchment, cut to fit, butter and lightly flour paper.
  4. Melt chocolate with espresso.
  5. Stir until smooth.
  6. Stir in yolks, one at a time.
  7. Place over hot water over double-boiler, and warm just until yolks thicken slightly, about 1 minute.
  8. Remove from over water.
  9. Stir in butter, one piece at a time, until melted.
  10. Blend in Cognac.
  11. Beat whites in large bowl with salt and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
  12. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff but not dry.
  13. Beat in cornstarch.
  14. Stir ¼ of whites into chocolate mixture to lighten.
  15. Fold in remaining whites and pour into prepared pans.
  16. Bake until edges are firm, but inside is still slightly creamy, about 25 minutes.
  17. Cool in pans; cakes will deflate.
  18. Remove from pans and brush off crumbs.
  19. For ganache: Bring cream to boil in small saucepan over low heat.
  20. Remove from heat.
  21. Pour into mixing bowl.
  22. Add chocolate, cover, and let stand 5 minutes.
  23. Stir gently until chocolate is melted.
  24. Add Cognac.
  25. Refrigerate until mixture just begins to thicken.
  26. Beat at medium-high speed until light, increased in volume, and just beginning to form soft peaks.
  27. Cut out piece of cardboard slightly smaller than cake.
  28. Wrap in foil, set on rack.
  29. Top with 1 cake layer.
  30. Spread with ganache.
  31. Sprinkle with chopped chestnuts.
  32. Top with second layer.
  33. Press with baking sheet to level.
  34. Smooth edges.
  35. Refrigerate until ganache is chilled.
  36. (can be prepared up to 2 days ahead) For glaze: Bring cream to boil in medium saucepan.
  37. Remove from heat.
  38. Add chocolate, cover, and let stand 5 minutes.
  39. Stir gently until chocolate is melted.
  40. Blend in Cognac.
  41. Cool glaze until just warm to touch.
  42. Reserve ½ cup.
  43. Pour remainder over cake, tilting back and forth so glaze drops to coat sides.
  44. Smooth with offset spatula.
  45. Transfer to platter.
  46. Cool reserved glaze until set.
  47. Spoon half of reserved glaze into pastry bag fitted with small plain tip.
  48. Pipe crisscross pattern over top and sides of cake.
  49. Carefully sprinkle crumbled violets in a thick border around outer edge of cake.
  50. Brush off any violet crumbs that don’t make it.
  51. Fit bag with leaf tip; spoon in remaining glaze.
  52. Pipe leaves around bottom.
  53. Set violet in center.