I’ve been making Marcy Goldman’s mock chestnut torte for years. I adore the cookbook she printed it in, A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking, and I’m grateful that the recipe is in Epicurious. That one little link has saved a whole lot of typing over the years. Everyone likes this cake. I make it every Passover.
This year I made some changes. The recipe calls for Passover margarine to make it pareve, refined sugar because this is a mainstream baking book, and good quality chocolate. Thanks to the real food bloggers I read I have a few new tools in pocket to make this cake more nutritious. And when a cake includes 12 ounces of mashed sweet potatoes, why not make it as nutritious as the main course?
First the easy substitutions. Instead of Passover margarine I used coconut oil. I used expeller pressed because I have a gallon bucket of it. Virgin will probably work just as well but give the cake a little hint of coconut flavor. It’s your decision. Instead of refined white sugar I used coconut sugar. The bag says to use it in the same quantities as white sugar, so that was simple. I just had to make sure that the clumps were broken up.
The more complex substitution was the chocolate. I have family members who are allergic to soy and others who would prefer not to touch soy, including the soy lecithin that is commonly in chocolate. I don’t have an opinion on the use of soy lecithin, but I do know that the varieties that don’t use it are much more expensive and not easily purchased in my supermarket. But Homemade Mommy’s homemade chocolate is a cinch to make. I usually halve the honey to make it suit my tastes. But when I melted the chocolate for the cake I found that I could taste the cocoa powder a bit too much. So I added a small spoonful of honey, stirred it in, and tasted. Just about right. When you make this, be sure to taste the chocolate to check if it tastes as sweet as you’d like. The original recipe calls for semisweet chocolate, which is what chocolate chips generally are.
Later when I tasted the batter I could still taste the earthy flavor of the coconut sugar. I knew that my audience was going to notice that. So I added my favorite chocolate booster — almond extract. One teaspoon of that and the batter was delicious enough that my husband could not tell I’d changed the recipe!
Without further ado, Marcy Goldman’s Mock Chestnut Torte has become Jenn’s Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake. I’ve copied the directions almost exactly from the original recipe.
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 1 1/2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes, about 12 oz
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 10 ounces homemade chocolate or a good quality semi-sweet, melted and cooled
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Chocolate Ganache Glaze
- 1/2 cup water
- 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with baking parchment.
In a mixing bowl, cream the coconut oil with the 1/3 cup sugar. Blend in the egg yolks, then the mashed sweet potatoes, almond extract, and cooled chocolate.
In another bowl, with clean beaters, whip the egg whites gently until they are a bit foamy. Then add in the salt and whip on a higher speed, slowly dusting in the two tablespoons of sugar to form stiff, glossy (but not dry) peaks.
Fold one third of the egg whites into the sweet potato/chocolate mixture and work them in well to loosen the batter. Then, gently fold in the remaining egg whites, blending well but taking care not to deflate the mixture.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes. The cake rises and looks dry, and slightly cracked on top when done. The middle should be soft but firm. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. At this point, the cake can be frozen for up to a month. Even if serving it the same day, chill the cake for an hour or two before finishing it with the ganache glaze.
Chocolate Ganache Glaze:
In a double boiler, bring the water to a gentle boil and add the chopped chocolate all at once. Remove from the heat and stir briskly with a wire whisk until all the chocolate melts and you have a thick glaze or sauce-like topping. Refrigerate for an hour or so. (You can also make this ahead and refrigerate it for up to a week or two. Simply warm it to the right temperature for glazing the cake.)
Invert the cake onto a plate so that the smooth, flat bottom faces up. Pour the glaze over the cake and, using a metal spatula, even out the glaze and spread it along the sides.