Italian Chestnut Chocolate Passover Torte
Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser
Prep Time: 1 hour Cook Time: 35 minutes
For many centuries, chestnuts were part of the staple diet in mountainous and hilly areas in Italy and for the poorer classes there in general—in additon to tasting good, they were served as an inexpensive form of nutrition. The original Florentine version of castagnaccio is made with chestnut flour, which is impossible to locate for Passover. This version is a quite a bit lighter and perhaps more elegant than the original, and with the addition of chocolate, it is rich and delicious. This is a perfect dessert for the Seder, since it can be served either at room temperature or chilled.
½ cup (11 grams) sweet wine, red preferred
½ cup (82 grams) raisins
8 ounces (227 grams) cooked chestnuts
3 tablespoons (40 grams) olive oil
1¼ cups (225 grams) granulated sugar, divided
3 tablespoons (63 grams) honey
½ teaspoon (3 ml) pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (22 grams) potato starch
½ teaspoon (2 grams) kosher salt
¼ teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
8 ounces (227 grams) semisweet chocolate with 60 percent cacao, melted (see Kitchen Tips)
¼ cup (30 grams) pine nuts, toasted (see Kitchen Tips)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch nonstick springform pan that is 3 inches deep with nonstick vegetable oil spray.
- Combine the wine and raisins in a small bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the chestnuts, olive oil, 1 cup of the sugar, the honey, and vanilla and process until completely smooth. Add the potato starch, salt, and rosemary and process to combine. Add the egg yolks and melted chocolate and process until smooth. Remove and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment (or in a mixing bowl if you are using a handheld electric mixer) beat the egg whites until foamy. With the mixer running, stream in the remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat at high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until the egg whites holds stiff peaks (see Kitchen Tips).
- Drain the raisins and add the liquid to the chocolate mixture.
- With a rubber spatula, fold one-third of egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Gently fold in half of the remaining egg whites, and then the other half, folding gently until no streaks remain. Fold in the nuts and raisins.
- Gently scoop the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes, until the center is just set. The torte can be served at room temperature or covered loosely and refrigerated and served chilled.
- There are several methods for melting chocolate. We like these:
- Place the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or a large metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the bowl does not touch the water. Stir over low heat until melted.
- For smaller quantities, melt chocolate in the microwave. Simply place the chocolate in a microwave-safe container and heat at high power for 20 seconds. Stir, and microwave for 10 to 15 seconds at a time, and repeat until melted, stopping to stir it between blasts. This should take only a minute or two in total, depending upon the power of the microwave. Microwaved chocolate will not look melted until it has been stirred, so keep stirring and watching to avoid scorching it.
- You can find toasted or roasted nuts in most supermarkets, but if you can’t, or if you prefer to roast your own, try The Weiser Kitchen’s Roasted Nuts.
- When beating egg whites, an impeccably clean bowl is a must; even a bit of grease can keep them from firming up to form soft or stiff peaks.
- Egg whites at the soft peak stage will be glossy and foamy, retain their basic shape but will droop a bit, and won’t entirely cling to the bowl. Egg whites at the stiff peak stage will be glossy and very firm, will retain their shape and cling to the bowl. They will stand straight up from the overturned beater. Yet they will still be creamy and flexible enough to fold in with other ingredients.