My first visit to this beautiful country that I call my second home was in late autumn. Hence, this time of the year is even more special for me. I remember walking along the Bahnhofstrasse of Zurich and spotting the little carts with big black pots titled “Heisse Marroni”. The aroma was incredible and when I ate one, it was warm and delicious. That was my introduction to the chestnut or ‘Kastanie’, as it’s called in German.
Chestnuts are considered a superfood and are available locally during autumn and winter. There are a lot of reasons to eat them…to begin with, they’re low in fat, high on protein and rich in antioxidants, which increase in concentration after cooking. They contain minerals such as magnesium and potassium. They’re a good source of vitamin C and complex carbohydrates, making them a perfect snack.
This no-bake chestnut cake is vegan friendly and made up of 3 layers:
- Base date, nut, grain layer
- Mid chestnut purée layer
- Top chocolate layer
Ingredients for the base layer
- 1/2 packed cup of pre-soaked dates (soak dates in hot water for half an hour in case you don’t have the soft Medjool variety on hand)
- 1/2 cup pre-soaked almonds (soak in hot water for half an hour and peel them)
- 1/3 cup toasted oats
- 1/3 cup toasted puffed rice
- 1/3 cup toasted popped amaranth (can be substituted with toasted cornflakes)
- Oil or butter to grease the cake mould
Ingredients for the mid-layer
- 450 grams room temperature chestnut purée (store-bought organic variety or home-made)
- 1/8th cup milk (plant-based or dairy if you don’t want to go vegan)
Ingredients for the top layer
- 75 grams semi-sweet dark cooking chocolate (I had the dairy-free variety);
- 1 teaspoon oil
- Pinch of sea salt
- Optional, few finely chopped pieces of candied ginger
- In a blender, blend the dates and almonds together until well combined.
- Add in the toasted oats and puffed rice and blend once more.
- Take the mixture out of the blender. Mix in the toasted popped amaranth. It should come together like dough.
- Grease the cake mould with oil or butter and spread out the base layer in a uniform thickness at the bottom of the cake mould.
- Let this sit in the refrigerator for about half an hour, while the chestnut purée comes to room temperature.
- Whisk the chestnut purée and milk until smooth.
- Now spread the chestnut purée on top of the base layer and smooth it out with a palette/butter knife.
- Set this in the refrigerator for about 2-3 hours.
- Melt the chocolate using the double boiler method. Mix in the oil, salt and ginger pieces. Whisk until smooth. Allow it to cool to room temperature.
- Optional step for vegans, if you don’t have easy access to dairy-free chocolate, one can make a chocolate sauce using cocoa powder, plant milk and coconut oil. Pour that on top of the chestnut layer and let it set in the refrigerator for half an hour.
- Take the cake out of the refrigerator and pour the melted chocolate mixture. Swirl the cake mould around to have a uniform top layer.
- Cut the cake into pieces immediately (waiting for the chocolate to set makes it quite difficult to cut the cake). The pieces can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Optionally, decorate the top of the cake with caramelized cooked chestnuts.
Most importantly, enjoy the chestnut season while it lasts!
Disclaimer: Opinions and methods expressed are solely of the writer. Namaste Switzerland does not undertake any obligation or liability which may arise from the content.