Chocolate and Pistachio Cake

A special occasion cake!

While I was afraid the cake itself would be dry, because it’s a nut based cake, the chocolate really added moisture and I found it even more moist the second day rather than right out of the oven.

Via Hummingbird High.

Some baker’s notes:

    • Admittedly, pistachio paste is expensive and a bit of a pain to source (though you can find some pretty good brands on Amazon). If you have a food processor, you can make your own at home! Homemade pistachio paste is a perfectly good substitute; any recipe you find online should work. [This is the online recipe I used, but the only change I made was to use canola oil, another neutral oil.You only need about 4 oz of pistachios, and I had extra paste left over.]


  • I also was a little scant with the chocolate frosting (that is, I only frosted the middle and the top) because I was running a little short on time. I used a really rich, chocolate frosting adapted fromMiette Cookbook (also seen in this yellow birthday cake recipe), and found that the 3 cups of frosting that it made was more than enough for the cake since the recipe produced such a rich, high-quality ganache. However, some people just want more chocolate and I respect that! If you’re one of those folks, please double the frosting recipe, cover the whole cake, and bask in that chocolate glory. [I kept the amount of frosting she used and still had plenty to cover the whole cake.]


Chocolate and Pistachio Cake

For the Pistachio Cake:

(makes two 9-inch cakes)

  • 2 ½ cups cake flour
    • [I couldn’t find cake flour in any of my local stores, so I made my own with this proportional guide from Food52: 1 cup AP flour – 2 Tablespoons AP flour + 2 Tablespoons cornstarch = 1 cup cake flour.]
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup pistachio paste (see baker’s notes)

For the Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting and Pistachio Topping:

(makes around 3 cups, enough for the top and middle of the cake — see baker’s notes)

  • 10 ounces dark chocolate, preferably with 70%+ cocoa
  • 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups pistachio nuts, finely chopped [*this is garnish, and pistachios can be expensive, so only use as much as you think you need. If I’m remembering correctly, I used one 8 oz bag of pistachio nutmeats from TJs for the whole recipe.]


For the Pistachio Cake:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 (F). Spray and line two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper, spraying the parchment paper.


  • In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 ½ cups cake flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Set aside.



  • In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter and 2 cups granulated sugar, creaming together on medium speed for at least 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. [I now have a stand mixer, so I did this, but I imagine a hand mixer is fine too!]



  • Once the mixture is light and fluffy, lower the mixer to its lowest speed. Add 4 large eggs, one at a time, only adding the next egg after the previous egg has been fully incorporated into the batter. Once all the eggs have been incorporated, add 1 tablespoon vanilla and continue mixing until just combined.



  • Continue to keep the mixer at its lowest speed and add the dry ingredients (from the 2nd step) in three additions, alternating with 1 cup sour cream in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. After each addition, beat until just combined — DO NOT OVERMIX at this stage, or you’ll end up with a dense, tough cake that will make me sad.



  • Once the last of the dry ingredients have just been incorporated into the batter, turn off your mixer. Use a rubber spatula to fold in ½ cup pistachio paste, making sure to not overmix the batter. Once the pistachio paste has been fully incorporated and the batter has an even, slightly grainy texture, stir in ½ teaspoon green food coloring until just combined [optional! I didn’t cause I didn’t need that green tint.]. There will be a lot of batter at this point, so don’t worry if it takes some time to fully incorporate the food coloring.



  • Once the batter is an even green color throughout, divide the batter evenly betwen the two pans and spread the batter out evenly with a rubber spatula. Gently tap each filled pan on the counter 4 or 5 times to remove any air bubbles in the batter.



  • Bake the cakes in the preheated oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. When poked with your finger, the top of the cakes should gently spring back. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before frosting and assembling.


For the Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting and Pistachio Topping:

    1. Combine 10 ounces dark chocolate and 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar in a medium, heatproof bowl.


  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream to a gentle simmer, whisking occasionally. Pour the hot cream into the heatproof bowl containing the chocolate and confectioner’s sugar mixture (from the 1st step). Stir the mixture with a heatproof rubber spatula until the sugar is dissolved.



  • Once the sugar has dissolved, make a double boiler by nestling the heatproof bowl over a medium saucepan filled with water — be sure that the water in the saucepan doesn’t touch the bottom of your heatproof bowl. Gently cook, stirring with a heatproof rubber spatula, until all the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from the heat.



  • In a separate, smaller heatproof bowl, whisk together 2 large egg yolks. Temper the yolks by pouring about ½  cup of some of the melted chocolate mixture (from the 3rd step) into the yolks, stirring constantly. Pour the tempered mixture back into the larger, heatproof bowl containing the rest of the original mixture and whisk to combine. Add 3 tablespoons unsalted butter and continue whisking until smooth.



  • Allow the ganache to cool for about 10 – 15 minutes, before using immediately. Spread around 1 ½ cups of frosting at the top of each layer and sprinkle each layer with 1 cup finely-ground pistachio nuts. Gently nestle one layer on top of the other and voila! A two-layer cake. Enjoy!



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