I came up with this recipe, half because I purchased a rather large tub of goat yogurt as an impulse buy, but also because me and a bunch of my friends from Masterchef(obviously Bri, but also Gabriel from season 8, and Samantha from season 9) wanted to get together for the holidays and do basically a Secret Santa, but with recipes! So we all came up with a fun holiday-themed recipe, and anonymously submitted it. And then we would be assigned somebody else’s recipe, and have to create it! For my submission, I went with these chestnut and yogurt pound cakes, topped with a chestnut mousseline. Since it is for the holidays, I figured some sort of denser cake would be appropriate, while also using chestnuts, as roasting chestnuts was something my great aunt would do for us whenever we visited her in Taiwan during the holidays.
The cake itself is a yogurt and brown butter pound cake, that I folded chopped chestnuts through. The brown butter would accentuate the toasted notes of the roasted chestnuts, while the usage of yogurt in the cake would result in the pound cake not being TOO dense. While I wanted it to be a hearty cake, I don’t want anyone to feel disgusting and weighed down after eating just one. Maybe after eating four or five, since this recipe makes 12 mini cakes in total. For the topping, I went with a chestnut and brown butter mousseline. A mousseline is a pastry cream(thickened custard usually used to fill cream puffs, Boston cream pies, and sometimes doughnuts), that is mixed with a generous amount of butter to create this velvety mousse or cream. It is quite similar to a French buttercream in that sense. In this recipe, since I’m flavoring the mousseline with roasted chestnuts, I’m using brown butter instead of regular butter, as the starch from the chestnuts can emulsify it all together and allow that mousseline to be velvety and smooth still. As the cake is on the lighter side as far as pound cakes go, the mousseline will not weigh it down or make it too heavy either, luckily!
Makes 12 individual cakes:
For the cake:
1/2 cup(8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
A pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 whole eggs + 2 egg whites
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped chestnuts(roasted and peeled)
In a pan, melt down the butter. Continue to heat until the butter turns amber in color and smells like butterscotch candies. Take off heat and allow the butter to cool down slightly. In a bowl, combine the browned butter, Greek yogurt, salt, vanilla, and sugar. Whip together until combined. Whisk into the butter-yogurt mixture the eggs and egg whites. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and the chestnuts. Fold the flour mixture into the yogurt-egg mixture, mixing in half of the flour mixture into the yogurt-egg mixture first, then folding in the rest. Brush 12 cupcake tins with oil and dust with flour. Fill each tin 2/3 the way full with the batter. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool down before unmolding.
For the chestnut mousseline:
1 cup milk
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
1/2 cup chestnut puree(or 1 cup roasted and peeled chestnuts)
1 stick unsalted butter, browned
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pour everything, minus the vanilla, into a blender and puree for 2-3 minutes. Pass through a sieve to remove any lumps and transfer a pot. Whisk everything on medium heat for 2-3 minutes until thickened enough to cling to the sides of your whisk. Cool down the chestnut mixture and whip into that the vanilla extract. Transfer the cooled down chestnut mixture into a piping bag with either a round, “spaghetti”, or star tip. Refrigerate until time to assemble.
Roasted and peeled chestnuts
Flip the cakes so that the tops of the cakes are now the bottom(you want the side that baked directly against the tin facing up). Pipe the mousseline on top of each cake and garnish with the roasted and peeled chestnuts to finish.