Many of my friends seem to have some sort of ‘dietary requirement’, whether it is a matter of ethics, such as being vegan or vegetarian, or an allergy to certain foods – I have one friend who is allergic to dairy, cinnamon and tomatoes. My friend Clare fits into the latter category, as she is lactose intolerant. This allergy cuts out a surprising range of things – even some brands of the contraceptive pill.
There is a vegetarian café in Exeter called Herbies, which is something of an institution. It has been running since my parents lived in Exeter some twenty years ago. It became a favourite back in the day (at school), as it was easy to find something nice that didn’t contain meat or dairy.
So when we met up a few weeks ago for a reunion of sorts, deciding where to meet for lunch didn’t take long. The main courses were of the usual salad and falafel variety, but it was the puddings that really stood out. We shared several and galloped them down, fighting over the last pieces, with cries of ‘it can’t POSSIBLY be vegan!’.
One pudding that I vowed to try and replicate was the chocolate chestnut terrine. When I asked what was in it, they cagily mumbled something about chestnut puree being the secret. So, lo and behold, here is my take on a chocolate chestnut terrine. I made mine with a biscuit base to add a bit of textural variation, and added eggs and baked it, to make it more like a brownie. It’s not vegan, but it is Clare-friendly, and she seemed to like it.
You will need a small roasting tin/or brownie tin – I used one measuring 30 by 60 cm.
Makes 12 squares
For the base:
150g digestive biscuits
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp honey/ agave syrup
For the topping:
300g dark chocolate
3 large eggs, separated
200g chestnut puree
10 pecan nuts, to decorate (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C. First, make the base. Put the biscuits in a bag and bash with a rolling pin, or whizz in a food processor. Press into the base of your tin and put in the fridge. Melt the chocolate in a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water. Whisk egg yolks, sugar and chestnut puree together until light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate to egg yolk mix, and then fold in the flour. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, and fold into chocolate mixture. Pour on top of the biscuit base, and stud with pecan nuts (if using). Bake in the centre shelf of the oven for ten minutes, until the top is set but the centre still wobbly (it will firm up when cool). Leave to cool in tin, then cut into squares.