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Pistachio Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ah, pistachio cake, you blast from the past. I remember having it one Easter long ago; bight green and covered with sickly sweet frosting. I was not a huge fan. I tempted fate the other night and tried a slice of pistachio cake at a local bakery. The difference was immense.

Of course, I immediately started thinking about how I could recreate that cake at home. Every single recipe I found online, however, used a packet of instant pistachio pudding, which I consider cheating. Instant pudding mixes use artificial flavorings, food coloring, and a lot of different chemicals to achieve heatless pudding that sets in 5 minutes time. No thank you.

I wanted real pistachio flavor, which meant using pistachio nuts. I decided to make a pistachio flour. Lots of failed attempts later, I learned what flours to add to the pistachio flour to make a light, tender crumb, and that the batter needed desperately to be lightened with egg whites. A tender, light, moist, pistachio flavored cake was my result. I topped it with my trusted cream cheese frosting with delicious results. If you desire a brighter green color to your cake, feel free to add food coloring, but I like the delicate green achieved by just the nuts themselves.


Pistachio Cake:
1 cup shelled pistachios
2 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg plus 3 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 
1 1/2 cups ice water
more pistachios roughly chopped, for garnish
(green food coloring, if desired)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare 2 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.

In the bowl of the food processor, pulse the pistachio meat until it has a powder-like consistency. Transfer to a large bowl and whisk together with the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light ad fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined.

Add the flour/pistachio mix to the batter in three additions, alternating with the ice water, mixing each time until just combined. Scrape down the bowl and mix on low speed for a few more seconds.

In another clean bowl, whisk together the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form, about 3-5 minutes. Fold the egg whites into the batter. Add food coloring here, if desired.

Divide the batter evenly among the tins Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Buttercream:
2 sticks of softened butter
8 ounces of softened cream cheese
6 cups of powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream


In a large bowl with an electric mixer of stand mixer, cream together the softened butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add the vanilla bean paste and combine. One cup at a time, add the powdered sugar while beating. Beat the whole mixture for 5 minutes, until spreadable and fluffy. Add whipping cream if needed and beat again. Frost as desired and garnish with pistachios!


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