Birthdays. Like Starbucks coffee, Harry Potter and the musical oeuvre of Lady Gaga, I have always found them to be slightly overrated. The only birthday I’ve ever really found myself getting excited about was my 21st which started with me drinking too much champagne on a train to Newcastle, and ended with me falling arse over tit down a hill whilst dressed as a PacMan ghost. Unfortunately, seeing as I’m turning the grand old age of 29, I fear I may be too old for that kind of thing nowadays.
As it is, I have learnt to lower my expectations when it comes to the annual celebration of the day of my birth. After all, what are birthdays but just another day – albeit another day where your parents call you up to cry and tell you the story of your birth (I was two weeks late, had to be pulled out with a pair of forceps, and the consultant told my Mum off because I’d made him miss Coronation Street). The best thing about the whole affair in my opinion is that they give you an excuse to legitimately drink during the day (I like to do my daytime drinking in the bath fact fans) and eat cake. Lots and lots and lots of cake.
Lets face it – most birthday cake is rotten. It’s usually too dry, covered in globs of disgusting buttercream and tastes like a one way ticket to a hypoglycemic coma. In my opinion, it’s high time it had a makeover. And what better way to reinvent the birthday cake by turning it into a Chocolate Chestnut Meringue Cake?
This cake is everything a dessert should be – a rich, flourless chocolate truffle cake topped with a firm, chewy, toothsome meringue. I had a tube of Créme de Marrons (aka sweetened Chestnut paste) that I’d found being sold for 99p in my local deli so I decided to throw that into the mix as well – lending the cake a nice nutty sweetness which cut through the denseness of the chocolate. I also finally relented and finally invested in a hand mixer which I found being sold for £6.00 in my local ASDA. Seriously people, if you don’t own one of these, I highly suggest that you go out and buy one as soon as you can. They’re amazing. All I want to do now is meringue the shit out of everything in sight.
As it is, I’ll just be content to bask in the gorgeous meringue joy of this cake instead – a cake which tasted pretty bloody good half an hour out of the oven, and even better the next day when all the flavours had melded together to form a slice of fudgey chocolatey delight. Birthdays may be overrated, but this cake certainly isn’t.
CHOCOLATE CHESTNUT MERINGUE CAKE
Adapted from Tartelette
You will need
For the cake:
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
- 130g firmly packed light-brown sugar
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 200g dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70% Cacao), melted and cooled
- 80g Chestnut Puree
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla essence
- 1 1/2 tablespoons spiced rum
- A pinch of salt
For the meringue:
- 50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 large egg whites
- 150g white sugar
Bake that cake
- Cream the butter and brown sugar until pale and smooth. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the bottom and sides of your bowl with a spatula if necessary. Add the melted chocolate, vanilla essence, chestnut puree, rum and salt. Mix well until fully combined combined.
- In a clean mixer bowl, beat the 6 egg whites until they have turned fluffy and soft peaks can be formed on top. Fold one-third of the egg whites into chocolate mixture and combine well. Fold in remaining egg whites, pour the cake batter into a well greased cake tin, and bake 25 minutes on Gas Mark 4/180 degrees centigrade. The cake is done when it looks as though it has only just firmed up – don’t worry if a skewer doesn’t come out clean so long as it’s not too gloopy with uncooked batter.
Slam that meringue:
- Combine the chopped chocolate and cornflour in a small bowl, and set aside. Place remaining 4 egg whites in a clean mixer bowl and beat with a hand mixer on a high speed until they turn thick and frothy. With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes.
Assemble and Finish:
- Remove cake from oven. Using a large offset spatula, spread meringue mixture on top of cake using as little strokes as possible not to deflate the meringue, and return to oven. Bake for around 25 to 30 minutes until the meringue is lightly browned and crisp, Let the cake cool for around 30 minutes, before slicing and serving.