If you are looking for a show-stopper dessert for the holidays that is still marginally healthy, this is the recipe for you.  A dense, moist, deeply-chocolatey cake that is grain free and lower in sugar, this is a dessert that serves ten (normal) people.  We had two slices left a few days after I made this, and much controversy broke out when Harrison ate BOTH slices for breakfast one morning.  This is the cake right out of the oven:

Dark Chocolate Chestnut Cake, grain free and Paleo

And this is the cake after a liberal dusting of cocoa powder:


Dark Chocolate Chestnut Cake, grain free and Paleo

I used a package of vacuum-sealed chestnuts that were already roasted and peeled, which made this relatively simple to prepare. Chestnuts are generally a seasonal item and I purchased mine at a specialty grocery, but they are widely available online.  If you have access to whole, fresh chestnuts and want to roast them yourself,  just weigh out seven ounces after they are cooked, peeled, and cooled.

The texture of this while it is still warm is silky and mousse-like, and after chilling it becomes firmer in texture and a little more crumbly.  It slices beautifully either way.

Dark Chocolate Chestnut Cake
Recipe type: Dessert, Holiday
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
  • 7 ounces roasted, peeled chestnuts
  • 2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk (or substitute half and half)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces of good-quality dark chocolate (I used 85%)
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • Optional: cocoa powder, to dust the top of the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9-inch springform cake pan with butter or coconut oil.
  2. In a blender or food processor, pulse the chestnuts, coconut milk, and vanilla extract until you have a coarse paste.
  3. Break the dark chocolate into pieces and place it in a small saucepan. Add the butter and warm over low heat, stirring frequently, until the butter and chocolate are melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
  4. Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a large mixing bowl and the whites in another large mixing bowl. Whisk the maple syrup into the egg yolks until well blended, then stir in the chestnut puree and the melted chocolate.
  5. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and then fold them into the chocolate batter in thirds. When the egg whites are just incorporated, spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the cake is only slightly jiggly in the center when you move the pan. Cool completely before slicing. If you want to dust the top with cocoa, spoon a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder into a fine sieve and shake it gently over the top of the cake. If you don't want a big mess, place the cake on some waxed paper before you do this step.


Dark Chocolate Chestnut Cake, grain free and Paleo


Dark Chocolate Chestnut Cake, grain free and Paleo

Thanks for reading,


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  1. I would love to try this over the holidays. Great recipe!

  2. I bought a jar of chestnuts going on TWO years ago at Williams Sonoma’s after Christmas bargain table with aspirations of making something really wonderful with them. Now that we are moving it is either in a box, in the trash or in a pan. Thanks for this recipe Angela. I now can throw them in a pan instead of the other two options. This looks delicious.

    1. Perfect timing! I just realized that you were moving, after reading your last blog post–not a fun activity, but a great excuse to clean out the pantry.

  3. Oh my this cake looks so very decadent and it serves 10, bonus. I also love how you described it as deeply chocolate, definitely a good thing when it comes to cake.

    1. Thank you, Chantelle!

  4. Do you think this would work with other nuts?

    1. Sophia, chestnuts are softer and starchier than other nuts so it wouldn’t be an even swap, but I have a friend who recently made the cake using hazelnuts in place of the chestnuts and she said it worked well. I would imagine that cashews might also work, but I haven’t actually tried it–I would soak them to soften them up before you blend them up.

  5. Thanks for the inspirational recipe 🙂

    1. That yule log is stunning!

  6. Believe it or not, this is my first blog comment ever. I just made your cake and it turned out AMAZING! It’s so darned good I just couldn’t lurk any longer. Had to shout it from the rooftops! Holy Moses….one of the best cakes I’ve ever had, and super-easy too. Brilliant! Thank you so much.

    1. Holly, you totally made my day! Thanks so much for the comment!

  7. What fun and a great use for our first harvest of chestnuts. Love the recipe. Made it more than once and tried adding grated orange peel to the dough which tasted wonderful in the finished product. Orange and chocolate just go together so well!

    1. Oh, that sounds wonderful! I love orange and chocolate, I will add that in next time.

  8. […] 4. Dark Chocolate Chestnut Cake Made using roasted chestnuts, coconut milk, vanilla, dark chocolate, butter, eggs, and maple syrup, this sweet and simple cake is a perfect way to enjoy seasonal nuts and cake at the same time, all while avoiding the holiday influx of grain and sugar-filled treats. […]

  9. I just made it and it was delicious. I accidentally put twice as much butter in it and it was heavenly. I use vahlrona chocolate and half and half.

    1. That sounds amazing!

  10. What would you serve it with?
    Whipped cream? Can I make it the day before? Thanks so much, Nirmal from Salt Spring Island

    1. It’s great with whipped cream and/or fresh fruit (blackberries are great). And yes, you can make it a day in advance.

  11. […] Dark Chocolate Chestnut Cake (Contains Dairy) […]

  12. This is in my holiday rotation. I’ve made it many times now.I first found it when my planned coconut milk mousse dessert, already underway, became impossible as I dropped the coconut milk on the way out of the fridge, making whipped coconut impossible.I put all the ingredients into a search and found this cake. The best baker I know loved it and couldn’t stop praising it.For anyone wondering what to do with the remainder of the coconut milk, make sure it’s shilled before opening, and use the solid fat only to make a whipped topping.

    1. That’s an excellent tip, and I’m so happy you like the recipe–this is a personal favorite.

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