IMBB 20: Chocolate Chestnut “Su-fle” Cake

chocolate chestnut souffle cake

It’s a shame what Jeffrey Steingarten has done. The Vogue food writer’s two versions of lobster soufflé take 10 hours to prepare, enough to scare away even expert cooks.

For Is My Blog Blog Burning 20: Has my Blog Fallen?, Kitchen Chick sought to convince people that soufflés aren’t so difficult to make after all. Souffles are simply custards that have been leavened with beaten egg whites. Although souffles are notorious for collapsing quickly, soufflé cakes are easy to make because they’re meant to be served in their non-peak state.

The chestnuts in this low-fat “su-fle” (ha ha, get it?) cake add wonderful creaminess. You won’t taste the chestnuts unless someone points them out, but they definitely contribute to the cake’s texture. On the first day, it resembles chiffon cake but on the second day, its flavor develops and resembles mousse. Your patience will be rewarded!

Chocolate Chestnut Soufflé Cake

Adapted from Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts by Alice Medrich

4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/2 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup chestnut spread (sweetened chestnut puree) (picture)
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tarter or 1/2 tsp vinegar or 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 to 2 tsp powdered sugar, for dusting
vanilla ice cream, vanilla frozen yogurt, whipped cream, creme fraiche, sour cream, or sweetened pureed cottage cheese (optional but recommended)


  1. Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350F. Place a round of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan and grease the sides.
  2. Combine the chopped chocolate, cocoa and half of the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Pour in boiling water and whisk until the mixture is smooth and chocolate is completely melted.  Stir in the chestnut spread, egg yolks, rum and vanilla.  Set aside.
    chocolate mixture
  3. Combine the egg whites with the cream of tarter, lemon juice or vinegar. Beat at medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in the remaining sugar and continue to beat at high speed until stiff but not dry. Whisk the flour into the chocolate mixture. Fold in a quarter of the egg whites. At this point, you don’t have to be too careful because you’re just lightening the chocolate so it will be easier to combine later. Then, carefully fold in the remaining whites. (Cut a spoon or spatula into the bottom of the bowl and plop the chocolate on top of the whites. Turn the bowl 90 degrees and repeat until no white streaks remain. The batter doesn’t have to be perfectly uniform in color. When in doubt, err on the side of undermixing so you keep the volume in the whites.) Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool torte in the pan on a rack. rise
    [Rise…]It will sink in the center as it cools.
    […and fall]Cake may be prepared to this point and stored, covered at room temperature or refrigerated for 2 days or frozen, well wrapped, for up to 2 months.
  4. To serve: Slide a thin knife or spatula around the sides of the pan to release the cake.  
    Remove the sides and bottom of springform or invert cake onto a platter. Remove the paper liner from the bottom and turn the torte right side up. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with a dollop of dairy, if desired.


  • While this cake did not taste low-fat, I didn’t think it was rich enough. I used mildly sweetened chestnut puree and forgot to add the cocoa, so your results may vary.
  • For a milk chocolate-flavored cake, use unsweetened chestnut puree and do not add cocoa.
  • You may make your own chestnut puree by boiling canned roasted chestnuts with enough water to cover and brown sugar (I used 2 Tbsp for 14 ounces of chestnuts. My puree was slightly sweet but not like a confection.) for 45-60 minutes, or until most of the water is absorbed and the nuts are soft. Puree the mixture with 1/2 tsp vanilla in a food processor until creamy.
  • I’m not big on garnishes, but a dollop of a plain dairy product really enhances the chestnut’s creaminess.  Regular yogurt is not recommended though, because it’s too tangy.
  • Eggs are easier to separate when they are cold (the yolks are less prone to break), but the whites whip better when they’re at room temperature.
  • Cream of tarter, an acid, stabilizes the whites to insure against overbeating. You’ve overbeaten the whites when a white glob floats on top of a watery mess. For a couple bucks, you can buy one ounce of cream of tarter, a uni-tasker. Or, you can buy a big bottle of vinegar for less than a dollar and save it for a ton of other uses.  😉 Simply substitute twice the amount of vinegar or lemon juice for cream of tarter in all of your whipped egg white recipes.

Tagged with: IMBB # 20 + Souffle

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  1. Niki said,

    I looked at this recipe just last night; the only thing preventing us is the difficulty of finding chestnut puree her. I’m sure it’s available, but probably in specialty stores and will cost $$$. I’m inspired by Medrich’s book; I want to make the marble cake this week.
    I’d agree that the souffles were tasty and bitter, but didn’t leave the same rich mouthfeel you get with a full-fat dessert. Still pretty darn good, though!
    I haven’t had a chance to tell you yet, but the choc chip cookie recipe you gave me is a real winner! I was so impressed. I haven’t had a chance to post it yet, but I love the wholemeal flour in it; it gave great geft, chew and flavour. Great stuff!

    October 23, 2005 at 11:42 pm

  2. Latifa said,

    I’m inspired by alice medrich too. Sadly her old books are out of print and i’m trying to collect her recipes through the internet. would you submit more of her recipes ? PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEE

    October 26, 2005 at 4:32 am

  3. Jessica "Su Good Eats" said,

    It’s ironic that chestnuts used to be considered poor man’s food, and now they’re so expensive because they’re rare. I bought a 14-oz. jar of roasted chestnuts on sale for $1.99 after Christmas! When I was in France, I remember seeing a 12-oz. jar of puree for about two euros. I regret not buying it! Perhaps you can request it in the next round of BBM?

    Even though the chestnut souffle cake was good, it’s not one of my favorites. So if you can’t get chestnuts, you aren’t missing out on much.

    About 75% of the recipes on this blog are from Alice M. You can probably find them by doing a search. I’m afraid I’m giving out too much! Once in a while, Alice’s books are affordable. searches B&N, Amazon, Ebay, etc. for the best deal. I’ve gotten my out-of-print books that way. You’re going to be so jealous, but I bought Chocolat last year for $17 (half of the list price), and it was autographed!

    October 30, 2005 at 7:44 pm

  4. Latifa said,

    Hello jessica,

    I’ve saved alice recipes featured on your site. I have done before a sreach about alice cookbooks and most of them are out of print or expesive used ones. Lucy you!. I have her bitterseweet book, but i would like to get my hand for a nother one, ant recommendation?

    October 31, 2005 at 4:57 am

  5. LisaSD said,

    It’s beautiful, and chestnuts are so seasonal!

    November 3, 2005 at 8:16 pm

  6. Jessica "Su Good Eats" said,

    Latifa, if you were to own one Alice M book, I’d say go for Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts. Bittersweet is very similar Cocolat (both are chocolate handbooks, but Bittersweet has more recipes), and most of Cocolat’s recipes are lightened in Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts. Actually, you can search inside that book on and pull up all the recipes from there. Hurry, the Amazon marketplace has a couple copies for around $30-well worth the price. I also like Cookies and Brownies. It has very clear instructions and each recipe has several variations, so you get a lot of bang for your buck. I would skip Chocolate Holidays (previously published as A Year in Chocolate). Not a lot of groundbreaking recipes, and everything uses lots of butter and chocolate!

    November 5, 2005 at 12:19 am