A rich and impressive dessert for a dinner party, Gateau de Marrons (ga-toh d’mah-rohn) is easier to prepare than it looks.
1 teaspoon butter
1 lb. peeled chestnuts, boiled and pureed, or
2 lb. canned unsweetened chestnut puree
4 fl. oz. milk
2 tablespoons brandy
6 eggs, separated
4 oz. sugar
10 fl. oz. double cream
1 tablespoon coffee essence
8 marrons glaces
Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C). Lightly grease a round, deep 9-inch cake tin with the butter and set it aside.
Put the chestnut puree in a large mixing bowl and stir in the milk and brandy.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and the sugar with a wire whisk or rotary beater until they are thick and pale yellow.
Beat the egg yolk mixture into the chestnut puree mixture.
In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with a wire whisk or rotary beater until they form stiff peaks.
With a metal spoon, carefully fold the egg whites into the chestnut mixture.
Turn the mixture into the prepared cake tin and place it in the oven.
Bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin.
When it is cool, run a knife round the edge and turn it out. With a long, sharp knife, carefully slice the cake into two layers.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the cream with a wire whisk or rotary beater until it is thick. Beat in the coffee essence and continue beating until the cream is stiff.
Spread one layer of the cake with half of the coffee-flavoured cream, and place the other layer on top.
Fill a forcing bag, fitted with a star nozzle, with the remaining cream and pipe it on to the top of the cake in an attractive design. Arrange the marrons glaces on top and serve.