Pistachio Cakes

Here she is. After many, many years of being loved, lost, forgotten, and then finally found again, I present to thee, the pistachio cake. As a very much non sweet tooth person, this is one of my top three favourite cakes, ever. They are fragrant with almonds, pistachios, and marzipan with just the slightest hint of cardamom. They are perfection.

A quick note before you start baking – the marzipan isn’t very intense. It’s mainly there for texture and to be a supporting role to the pistachio flavour. I used to add a few drops of almond flavour, but I don’t think it really needs it. You can also add green food colouring to really bring home that pistachio component, but again, that’s completely optional.

Pistachio cakes with marzipan and a hint of cardamom

Originally found in a (in the meantime lost) Delicious Magazine add-on

Makes 12

80g skinned ground almonds (if you’re feeling fancy, you can replace this with equal amounts ground pistachios)

20g salted pistachios, finely ground in a food processor

30g extra salted pistachios, roughly chopped

100g unsalted butter, softened

80g white sugar

80g marzipan, chopped or torn into small pieces

2 eggs

½ tsp vanilla essence

30g semolina flour (Semolina flour is a lot finer than semolina, but if you can’t find it, semolina will do. Polenta also makes an excellent substitute if you want to make this gluten free. Just remember, the texture will be a little coarser than what you’d get with semolina flour.)

1/4 tsp ground cardamom, from about 5 cardamom pods

Icing

50g butter, softened

100g cream cheese 

50g icing sugar – you might need less, or more, depending on how sweet you want it

a few drops of rosewater

½ tsp vanilla essence

Toppings (optional)

1 dried rose bud, crumbled 

12 extra whole salted pistachios

1 Tbsp finely chopped salted pistachios

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a 12 hole muffin pan with muffin cases.

In a large bowl, smush together the softened butter and the sugar until combined (you obviously skip this step and start beating the two with a hand-held mixer, however, I’ve found that this will prevent the sugar from flying out of the bowl when you turn on the mixer). Grab your mixer and beat the butter sugar mixture until well-combined and fluffy. Add the pieces of torn marzipan and beat for another minute. Don’t worry about there being lumps – there are few things better than the surprise of a nugget of molten marzipan when biting into one of these. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.

Add the ground pistachios, the ground almonds, the extra chopped pistachios, the vanilla essence, the semolina flour and the ground cardamom and beat thoroughly.

Fill the muffin cases about halfway, starting with about 1 Tbsp batter per case and dividing the rest. Transfer the muffin tin into the middle of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. The cakes are done once they’ve taken on a golden hue and don’t sink in when gently poked with a finger. Remove from the oven and cool.

For the icing, mix together the butter and cream cheese until well combine, than gradually stir in the icing sugar, one spoonful at a time, until you have a lump-free icing of your desired consistency. Stir in the vanilla and rose water.

To assemble, top each cake with as little or as much icing as you’re in the mood for, dotting with the whole pistachio and a sprinkling of the chopped pistachio and a pinch of crumbled dried rose petals.