Saturday, August 29, 2009

August 26, 2009: Chocolate-pistachio cake

With Cindy coming back to Melbourne's drab winter after two weeks of sunny Queensland sun, I figured I needed to do something to soften the blow. And clearly that something had to involve chocolate. I'm not usually much of a baker - in fact, I think if you trawled the blog archives, you'd find only one baking post by yours truly - so I figured a cake would have both chocolate and an element of surprise.

I turned to Nigella to find something suitably indulgent, and settled on a chocolate-pistachio cake, mainly because Nigella promised it was relatively straightforward to put together. And I guess she's probably right - unless, like me, you struggle with simple baking tasks like separating eggs or melting chocolate. Still, I survived, and everything seemed to work okay. We ended up with a pretty delicious cake anyway - tasing mostly of rich dark chocolate, with just a hint of all the ground up pistachios in the batter.

Chocolate pistachio cake
300g dark chocolate
150g caster sugar
160g pistachios
150g soft unsalted butter
6 large eggs, separated
150ml double cream
1/2 lemon

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

Melt half of the chocolate (I did it in a saucepan, but Nigella recommends a double boiler).

While it's melting, grind up 150g of the pistachios with 50g of the sugar in a food processor until you've got a fine powder. (Keep an eye on the chocolate, you don't want to burn it!) Add the butter and another 50g of sugar and blend into a smooth paste.

Take the melted chocolate off the heat and leave to cool.

Add the egg yolks to the food processor one at a time, pulsing after each one goes in. With the food processor running, poor in the cooled, melted chocolate and blend it all together.

Wipe the inside of a big mixing bowl with half a lemon, and then whisk the egg whites and salt in it until you get soft peaks. Then add the rest of the sugar, whisking together until you've got a glossy, firm mix. Take a big dollop of the egg-white mix and add it to the batter in the food processor, blending together. Now, dollop this batter over the egg-white mix and fold it all together to finalise the batter.

Pour the batter into a prepared cake tin and bake at 190 degrees for 20 minutes, before turning the heat down to 180 degrees for another 25 minutes.

In the meantime, the icing is pretty simple: melt the rest of the chocolate in a small saucepan with the cream, and then whisk briefly to thicken. Wait until the cake has cooled to pour the icing over the top, and then sprinkle with the remaining pistachios (you may want to chop them up a bit).


  1. looks delicious - and very cheering to have such an indulgent cake made for cindy (can you give E a few pointers please?)

    I hate separating eggs too but find melting chocolate in the microwave the easiest method - but you have to give it a good stir when the chocolate looks half melted as it melts quite a bit when out of the microwave so I do it 30 or 60 seconds at a time.

  2. Very very cheering, Johanna! Not Michael's usual style, yet he completely pulled it off - evenly cooked with a perfectly smooth, glossy ganache.

    Thanks for the tip re: melting chocolate. :-)