[Chocolate and Candied Chestnuts Coffee Cake]
I wanted to bake a cake for our new year’s eve party – what’s a party without a cake? — and this is what I made. The recipe for this cake is originally a Sour Cream Coffee Cake from Bon Appétit (circa 1993), which my mother and I tinkered with a little while ago, lowering the sugar content, subbing yogurt for sour cream and converting the measurements from cups to grams.
My mother and I absolutely loved it, so perfectly crispy and caramelized and moist and flavorful. The original cake has a walnut and cinnamon topping, and I had made a delicious hazelnut and blueberry version for my birthday party last summer. A funny thing to note is that coffee cakes are not common at all in France, so when I tell people what this cake is, they always get a quizzical look on their faces, wondering why they can’t taste the coffee. So I have to explain that coffee cake is a cake to eat with coffee, not a cake containing coffee.
I wanted to try twisting it again, using more festive ingredients this time, chocolate chips and chunks of marrons glacés, those delicious glazed sweet chestnuts which are a typical holiday treat in France. I modified the recipe to account for the sweeter nature of my toppings, and avoid having my guests fall into sugar shock.
For the chocolate chips, I used the ganache drops I bought at G. Detou before the holidays, which characteristically came in a one-kilo bag. The candied chestnut pieces were generously donated by Maxence from his personal Christmas loot.
The resulting cake was as good as I had hoped. The little bits sunk to the bottom somewhat, which made for a scrumptious bottom layer. It is just the right sweetness, the tastes of chocolate and chestnut present but subtle, complementing the batter’s taste but not overpowering it in the least. And the texture is so pleasant that Maxence commented it was “comme un canelé, mais en gâteau”, which is really the best compliment he can make, considering how much he loves canelés. We served it along with a deliciously fresh fruit salad, a signature Marie-Laure concoction.
Coffee Cake Chocolat Marron Glacé
- 50 g brown sugar (I use muscovado sugar for extra crunch)
- 75 g chocolate chips
- 75 g chopped marrons glacés — glazed chestnuts
- 50 g crème de marron — sweetened chestnut purée
- 200 g flour
- a bag of baking powder (1 1/2 tsp)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 115 g butter, at room temperature
- 100 g white sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 plain yogurts (125 ml each, I use the Dannon Velouté)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 180°C (360°F). Grease a 10 inch cake pan, preferably nonstick with a removable bottom.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
In a food processor, mix together the white sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing between each. Add the yogurts and the vanilla extract, mix again. Add the flour mixture, mix again.
Pour half of the cake batter in the cake pan. Sprinkle half the chocolate chips and the marron glacés bits. Drop the crème de marron in small spoonfuls over the surface. Pour the rest of the batter. Sprinkle the brown sugar and the remaining chocolate and marrons glacés over the top of the batter.
Bake for an hour, until the top is golden and a knife blade inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for ten minutes, then turn out on a rack to cool completely.