Skye McAlpine's Flourless Chocolate, Chestnut & Rosemary Cake #LeithsTakeovers

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Skye McAlpine's Flourless Chocolate, Chestnut & Rosemary Cake #LeithsTakeovers

Photography © Skye McAlpine

An impressive dessert to put a smile on the faces of your family and friends. Skye McAlpine's chocolate and chestnut cake. #LeithsTakeovers

A few years ago, I made this for a bake sale at my elder son Aeneas’s school, and found myself swamped with requests for the recipe, which is adapted from the old Venetian cookbook, ATola Coi Nostri Veci by Mariù Salvatori. Chocolate cake is often dry and, in spite of its dark, sumptuous appearance, rather disappointing to eat. This, however, chic-ly dusted in a cloud of icing sugar, is the ideal balance of velvety chestnut and rich, fudgey chocolate. The rosemary is entirely optional, but gives it a soft grown-up-ness.

I use the cans of sweetened chestnut purée here, for ease and convenience. An import from France, it can be tricky to find, so I stock up whenever I see tins at the supermarket or in delicatessens, as it always comes in handy, even to serve over vanilla ice cream with a little chopped dark chocolate and crumbled meringue. But if you can’t find it easily, feel free to use the unsweetened variety readily available in British supermarkets: use 400g, whisking it lightly with 100g icing sugar, until smooth, before you begin.


Serves 8-10

Flourless Chocolate, Chestnut & Rosemary Cake
Salted butter, for the tin
500g sweetened chestnut purée
4 eggs
75g ground almonds
40g cocoa powder
Leaves from 4 rosemary sprigs, plus extra sprigs for the top icing sugar, to dust


  1. Heat the oven to 180 ̊C/fan 160 ̊C/Gas 4. Butter a 20cm round cake tin and line with baking parchment.
  2. Pour the chestnut purée into a large mixing bowl. Separate the eggs and lightly beat the yolks with a fork, then add them to the purée. Pour in the ground almonds, add the cocoa and mix well. Roughly chop the rosemary leaves and add them to the batter, then stir until well combined.
  3. In a second bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the chocolate mix. Pour into the tin and sprinkle on a few rosemary sprigs. Bake for 40–45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin, then turn out. The cake will keep nicely for 2–3 days.
  4. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Extract taken from A Table for Friends: The Art of Cooking for Two or Twenty by Skye McAlpine (£26, Bloomsbury)

Skye McAlpine

Author: Skye McAlpine

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