Chestnut Chocolate Cake

READY IN: 1hr 45mins
SERVES: 12-14




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