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!
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.
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.”
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:
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:
Puree the chestnuts, and they will be ready to be incorporated into the buttercream:
Dark Chocolate Cake with Roasted Chestnut Buttercream
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!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
20 Comments on “Dark Chocolate Cake with Roasted Chestnut Buttercream”
This looks delicious, can’t wait to try it out! Just a quick question: for the buttercream, Can I use European Style butter or does it need to be American (like Land O’ Lakes for example)? Thanks 🙂
Either will work here. Enjoy!
Nice recipe. Keen to try it!
When you say put the eggs in hot water before separating the egg yolks, what’s the purpose for that? Do you use boiling hot water?
Is that 3/4 lbs of chestnuts before or after shelling? Thanks!
Purchase 3/4lb of chestnuts from the store, then roast and peel them.
If anyone is planning to make the cake batter for cupcakes, it makes about 30 regular size (1/4 cup batter each) if you are wondering! More than I expected, but it’s ok, they will definitely not go to waste, and everyone who tried them loved them, even my husband who swears he is “not a cake person.” Tasted great! I used a chocolate buttercream icing instead of chestnut and it was delicious. Thank you!
Hi Diane, thanks for leaving such a tremendously useful comment. I’m sure others will want to turn this recipe into cupcakes. Glad everyone enjoyed this recipe!
Thanks Joanne. I made these as cupcakes this past weekend. Since there are no fresh chestnuts this time of year I used the packaged ones that are roasted and peeled. The frosting did get a little melty (house is kept at 77) but I kept the cupcakes in the fridge and took them out an hour before serving them.
I love the packaged chestnuts! I find that they are often very good, even though they’re not fresh.
How long can the buttercream be left out at room temperature? Overnight?
What temperature are you keeping your house at? If it’s 70 degrees or less then it would be fine left out overnight. Much hotter than that and the butter will get a bit too melty (I keep my house at 80 in the summer, which would be too hot). You can always store it in the fridge, just make sure you keep it airtight so the cake doesn’t dry out.
If you keep it in the fridge it should last about 5 days or so.
What’s the approximate serving size?
It yields 3 9inch rounds, so it’s just a standard 3 layer cake. It would serve 8 or so.
Egg yolks? I’ve never seen anything but egg whites be used in buttercream frostings; in fact the pictures you show look like beaten egg whites!
Really? I’ve seen egg yolks more commonly than egg whites, except in meringue type frostings where you use egg whites to build volume. The egg yolks here add more body and a nice mouthfeel (I mean, that’s where the fat is). It’s definitely egg yolks for this one =)
When do you add the chestnuts? I read the directions three times and don’t see anything about adding the chestnuts to the frosting.
Hi Judy, Thanks for pointing this out. I can’t believe I left that out! I folded them in at the end, so we don’t interfere with the eggs building up their volume.
My first thought when I saw the picture was Oh Wow! That is one amazing cake!
I’ve seen chestnuts at the grocery store before but have never bought any because I had no clue what to do with them. I may just have to buy some and try this! Thanks for all the info on preparing chestnuts as well!