Making Traditional Swiss-Italian Chestnut Torte

In planning and dreaming about this year off traveling in Europe, I was inspired by the thought of cooking traditional recipes with friends, family and people I meet along the way.  I did some research, of areas we knew we’d visit, and the typical local dishes and foods.  Thinking of the Ticino region of Switzerland, I imaged different cheeses and meats, but it wasn’t until our long walks in the forests did I realize the importance of chestnuts, growing wild all over the area.

Recalling the stories told to me by my great-aunt and mom about the challenges of our Swiss family during the war, food and work were sparse, and locals were leaving the area for jobs elsewhere.  I imagined they relied heavily on chestnuts at that time, and any other food they could gather from the forest.

With this thought in mind, I questioned my cousin Corinne about a typical dish using chestnuts.  Since the nuts are not currently in season, we needed to think of a dish using already prepared chestnuts.  This recipe for chestnut torte sounded the most appealing to me, as I was quite curious how it would taste.  And I was quite pleased!

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We begun with frozen chestnut purée, unthawed overnight in the fridge.  I combined the powdered  sugar and egg yolks with the chestnut purée, while Corinne whipped the egg whites to soft peaks with a hand mixer.

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Once the chestnut mixture was well blended, I added the ground hazelnuts and folded in the whites.  We poured this into a prepared cake pan and set it to bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

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Once the cake was finished cooking, we melted together some butter and chocolate in a saucepan on the stove, and poured this over the cooled cake.  Corinne’s recipe called for milk chocolate, so the chocolate flavor was quite light and the added milk and other ingredients in the chocolate made the butter separate from the chocolate.  When I make this recipe again, I will use extra dark chocolate and melt it in a double boiler.

Despite this, the cake turned out beautifully and I would suggest this to anyone wanting to try chestnuts in a sweet application. I might reduce the sugar, as it was still quite sweet, even though we halved the sugar the original recipe called for. It is dense and nutty deliciousness.  And I can almost imagine my great grandma dreaming of this and preparing it for some extra special occasion.  Probably without chocolate.

Enjoy!

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Torte di Castagne/ Chestnut Torte Recipe:

20 ounces chestnut puree

8 ounces powdered sugar

8 ounces ground hazelnut, walnut or almond meal

3 eggs, separated

4 ounces butter

4 ounces dark chocolate

Prepare a round 8 inch cake pan by greasing it with butter and preheat the oven to 350.

Combine the chestnut with the sugar and egg yolks, and mix well.  Sprinkle in ground nuts and fold together . Set aside.

Whip the egg whites to soft peaks.  Fold into the chestnut mixture. Pour into prepared pan and place in the middle rack of the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean.  Flip the cake onto a plate to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and chocolate together over a double burner and pour over the cooled cake. Spread evenly and maybe sprinkle with more nuts or shaved chocolate.

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Categories: check this out!, community projects, my project and events, travel

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One Comment on “Making Traditional Swiss-Italian Chestnut Torte”

  1. Evelyne
    April 17, 2013 at 7:20 am #

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe..and pictures to go with it! Looks yummy..a little like the Birthday cake you made for me..mmmmm!

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