This Chocolate Cake with Chestnut Buttercream has a soft and moist crumb, and a creamy buttercream made with pureed chestnuts. It’s a unique and delicious dessert!

Dark Chocolate Cake - With Chestnut Buttercream Frosting and Drizzled with Chocolate Sauce
OH MY WORD this cake is GOOD!  I saw some fresh chestnuts at the grocery store, snagged the little treats (they only seem to pop up around the holidays), and decided to turn them into a roasted chestnut buttercream.  Then I picked up my handy dandy Flavor Bible for pairing ideas and decided a chocolate base would go beautifully with the earthy flavors of the roasted chestnuts.  And for those of you who say you don’t like cake, I dare you to give it a try.  Grocery store cakes do the world a disservice by making yucky cakes with “buttercreams” consisting of not much more than partially hydrogenated oil.  That’s not buttercream.  Homemade is definitely the way to go, and it’s not difficult, and SO worth the results.   This cake is so perfect for the holidays!

Dark Chocolate Cake: This is the best chocolate cake I have EVER had.  If I didn’t make it, I would think this was an oil based cake because it is so darned moist.  Never ever have I had a butter cake this moist, it’s amazing.

Adding Hot Water to the Cocoa Mixture

It was my first time trying it yesterday, and this will be my go-to chocolate cake from now on.  What’s really awesome is it’s made from a hot chocolate base, so the chocolate flavor is really there.  I also added some mini chocolate chips to the batter right at the end, and they melted slightly in the oven, giving the cake these gooey chocolate “hot spots.”

Dark Chocolate Cake Batter in a Bowl with Mini Chocolate Chips on Top

Yum.  This will give you 3-9 inch rounds of cake.

Roasted Chestnut Buttercream: This is a professional style buttercream (don’t let that scare you, it just means it’s good quality stuff).  A lot of people make a buttercream that consists only of butter beaten with powdered sugar.  Many people don’t notice, but it has a gritty consistency from the cornstarch in the powdered sugar that I really don’t like, and while it is easy, I don’t find it to be very good.  Professional style buttercreams aren’t too difficult, so I highly suggest you give it a try…it’s a million times better…plus, it uses less butter =)

Get a sharp knife, and cut X’s into the chestnuts like this:
A Shell-On Chestnut with an X Cut Into It

If you don’t cut X’s into the chestnuts, they can explode (even after they have cooled), so it’s important to let the steam escape.  Plus, it will make the peeling a lot easier!  Roast the chestnuts in the oven for about 20-25 minutes on a sheet pan:

Roasted Chestnuts On a Sheet Pan with X Cut In

Puree the chestnuts, and they will be ready to be incorporated into the buttercream:

Buttercream Frosting in Stand Mixer Bowl with Whisk Attachment

Dark Chocolate Cake with Roasted Chestnut Buttercream

This Chocolate Cake with Chestnut Buttercream has a soft and moist crumb, and a creamy buttercream made with pureed chestnuts. It's a unique and delicious dessert!

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For the chocolate cake:

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2.75 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 2.25 cups white sugar
  • 4 extra large eggs lightly whisked
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

For the chestnut buttercream:

  • 3/4 pound chestnuts
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 8 egg yolks warmed (before separating the egg yolks and whites, place the eggs in a bowl of hot water for 5 minutes)
  • 1.5 cups butter diced into small cubes
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla


  • For the cake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour your cake pans (I like to rub the leftover butter wrappers in the cake pan for easy and resourceful application. You wouldn’t want to waste any of that butter, would you?)
  • In a big bowl, pour the boiling water over the cocoa powder, and whisk until smooth (it’s essentially a big bowl of unsweetened hot chocolate. Don’t drink it though…it’s pretty bitter).
  • Place your hot cocoa into an ice bath so it can cool. Next, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and set it aside for later.
  • Place the butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix on low for 1 minute, then with the mixer turned up to medium, slowly add in the sugar. Slowly pour in the eggs with the mixer on low, add the vanilla, and continue mixing until absorbed.
  • Add one third of the dry ingredients and cooled hot chocolate liquid at a time, alternating between the two, starting with the dry and finishing with the hot chocolate liquid. Stir in your mini chocolate chips at the end.
  • Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans and bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool.
  • For the chestnut buttercream: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. If your chestnuts are dirty, wipe them off with a damp paper towel. Get a sharp knife, and cut X’s into the chestnuts. If you don’t cut X’s into the chestnuts, they can explode (even after they have cooled), so it’s important to let the steam escape. Plus, it will make the peeling a lot easier! Roast the chestnuts in the oven for about 20-25 minutes on a sheet pan.
  • Peel both the shell and inner skin off the chestnuts, and open them up so you can see into the middle of the chestnut (it is very common for a few of them to be spoiled in the middle). Discard the spoiled ones. Place your chestnuts in a food processor, add the vanilla, and grind them up as finely as you can. You won’t be able to grind them into a paste with the food processor, but you should be able to turn it into a powder. Set the ground chestnuts aside for later.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks on high speed for 8 minutes until they are very pale. In the meantime, combine the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, and let the sugar syrup simmer toward the soft ball stage (238 degrees on an instant read thermometer). When both the egg yolks and the sugar syrup are ready, pour the sugar syrup into the mixing bowl (the mixer should still be on high speed), aiming as best as you can to pour between the wire whisk and the side of the bowl. Notice that the mixing bowl is very hot to the touch. Beat the egg yolk sugar mixture until the bowl feels neither hot nor cold (it took me about 5 minutes).
  • Turn the mixer down to medium and add the butter, a couple cubes at a time, to the bowl. Wait until each installment of butter is absorbed until you add the next batch. You want to beat the buttercream for 10 minutes, so it can get nice and fluffy. Fold the chestnut mixture in, spread your buttercream onto the cooled cakes, and enjoy!


Calories: 927kcal, Carbohydrates: 120g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 48g, Saturated Fat: 28g, Cholesterol: 288mg, Sodium: 685mg, Potassium: 342mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 80g, Vitamin A: 1475IU, Vitamin C: 11.5mg, Calcium: 80mg, Iron: 3.4mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.