I first made this recipe four years ago during a three-week period in which I was lucky enough to host a houseful of twenty-somethings, my son and his three friends and work partners. That meant that I was able to bake and bake to my heart’s content, for I had young men hungry for my baked treats. I would peek my head around the corner of the bedroom door and ask “Cake?” as three pairs of would eyes turn towards me and light up! The fourth pair of lovely brown eyes would roll heavenward in annoyance and disgust at his mother once again pushing cake and cookies at his friends, yet weren’t the rest of them just thrilled with the offerings of dessert and snack? I would push open the door and walk in unasked, unannounced, platter of cookies or cakes held aloft, Marty prancing around my feet, and simply place the plate on the edge of the desk, smile and leave. The boys would glance nervously in my son’s direction, wondering if they could partake and enjoy without his disdain, without feeling as if they are abetting the opposition, in cahoots with his baking mom, stepping over into enemy territory. Yet hours later after they had all packed up and headed home, I would go to collect the cake platter and find it empty. “Was it good?” I wondered aloud. “Yes,” he answers grudgingly, loath to admit that what I have baked was enjoyed by one and all, including himself.
So as the boys worked, I baked; and I tiptoed into the room where they worked in a fug of youthful energy and passion and carefully and silently place a platter of these meltingly smooth fondants before them. A fondant is simply a cake so moist and tender that it melts in the mouth, so light and ethereal it disappears in a flash, fading into a sweet afterthought. The chestnut flour gives these cakes a rather strange yet intriguing, addictive, nutty yet deeply earthy flavor, a perfect pairing with the deep bittersweet chocolate ganache, subduing the sweetness of the cake just so, adding a chocolate zing to the chestnut just so, making a wonderfully luxurious, absolutely intense, complex, irresistible combination.
- 1⅔ cups (5.3 oz/150 g) chestnut flour
- ½ cup (1.8 oz /50 g) cake flour
- 1 cup + 1 ½ Tbs (7.7 oz /220 g) sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 14 Tbs (7 oz /200 g) unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs, separated
- ⅞ cup (200 ml) milk
- Butter for greasing the tins, paper casings for lining muffin tins
- 3.6 oz (100 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- ½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
- Prepare the ganache by bringing the heavy cream just to a boil in a small saucepan and then pouring it over the chopped chocolate in a heatproof (Pyrex) bowl. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and perfectly smooth. Leave to cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Generously butter the Bundtlet tins and line the muffin tins with paper casings.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, removing from the heat when the butter is almost but not quite melted. Stir off of the heat until all of the butter is melted. Put aside to cool a bit.
- Sift the chestnut flour with the cake flour into a large mixing bowl then stir in the sugar and the salt. Whisk to combine. Add the egg yolks to the dry ingredients and whisk, adding the butter in a steady stream as you blend. Add the milk and whisk until everything is well blended.
- Using an electric mixer with very clean beaters, whip the whites with a small pinch of salt until stiff peaks hold. Using a spatula, fold the beaten whites into the chestnut cake batter in thirds until the whites are completely blended in and no white chunks are visible. Do not overfold or you risk breaking the whites and losing the air.
- Carefully fill the tins with batter filling up almost but not quite to the rims. To make this easier, you can either use a soup ladle or pour the batter into a large measuring cup with a spout or lip.
- Bake the Bundlets for 20 minutes until puffed, set and just golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes or so in the tins before carefully lifting or turning them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.
- Before serving, drizzle the cooled chocolate ganache (thick but still pouring consistency) over the Bundlets and cupcakes.