birthday, cake, celebration, children, chocolate cakes and bakes, dessert, Feasts and Festivals
Comments 6

Pistachio and Chocolate Cake


I have a confession to make. Well, not so  much a confession but a disclaimer. This recipe isn’t entirely original and mine. To be honest, I am fed up of seeing people posting their alleged “new recipes” when they have clearly been reworked from someone else’s and have not given them credit.

So, I want to be clear, that this cake is a re-working and scaling of other people’s recipes, with a minor element being mine.

The sponges that make up this cake are a scaling up of Annie Bell’s Chocolate and Pistachio cake in her Baking Bible.  I have long been a fan of hers since I picked up a very reduced copy of her Gorgeous Cakes in a discount book shop. To this day I have no idea why she isn’t a household name: the woman knows her stuff and her recipes are great.

I opted to make my own filling of Pistachio Buttercream, mainly because I had some leftover. But I think it really works and adds to the pistachio flavour.

The chocolate icing over the cake is a scaled down version of Nigella Lawson’s icing from her Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake, which is a staple in my house.

As for the decoration on top, it came about by good timing on the part of the delivery guy who brought my first order from Sous Chef. I had ordered a few bits and pieces on top of the magnificent emerald Iranian pistachios (after seeing them on my friend’s Instagram feed), including some edible flowers.


When the order arrived I had literally just put the chocolate icing on top and had started to cut up my paler, supermarket pistachios. Once opened, I realised that I could use the edible Mallow flowers in my order as a great accent to the vivid green of the pistachios.


Anyway, enough of that. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients for the Sponge:

6 Medium Eggs

240g of Caster Sugar

1 1/2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder

120g of Pistachios, ground in a blender

250g of Ground Almonds

  1. Separate the eggs and whisk the whites until stiff. 
  2. In another bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar for only a minute.
  3. Fold the whites in to the yolk mixture in two parts, then fold in the baking powder and a teaspoon of Kirsch (or almond extract).
  4. Divide the mixture into one third and two thirds. Add the ground pistachios to the third, and fold in gently.
  5. Add the ground almonds to the two thirds, and fold in gently.
  6. Pour the respective mixtures into lined 8″ tins, at 200C (180C fan) and bake for 20 minutes (for the pistachio cake) and 25 minutes for the deeper cake. They should be springy when cooked and a skewer will come out clean.
  7. Allow to cool.

Ingredients for the Pistachio Buttercream:

40g of Pistachios, ground

75g of Softened Butter

120g of Icing Sugar

1 Teaspoon of Kirsch of Almond Extract

  1. Cream the butter and the icing sugar, tasting to check for a sweetness that is to your taste.
  2. Add the Kirsch and ground pistachios and mix again.

Ingredients for the Chocolate Icing:

50g of Butter

115g of Dark Chocolate

200g of Sieved Icing Sugar

2 Teaspoons of Golden Syrup

85g of Soured Cream

1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract or Paste

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bain marie.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and golden syrup.
  3. Mix in the soured cream then add the icing sugar. I find it best to use a metal whisk to ensure there are no lumps in the finished icing.
  4. Put it to one side until it has firmed up enough to spread on the cake. Depending on the temperature of the day, this could take 30 minutes.

Whilst the chocolate icing is cooling down and firming up, turn your attention to the sponges. Split the almond sponge in two and place one half on a cake stand or plate.

DSC_0624 (1)

Spread one half of the Pistachio Buttercream on it, then place the pistachio sponge on top. Spread the rest of the buttercream on that. Top with the other half of the almond sponge.


Once you are happy with the chocolate icing’s consistency, spread it around the sides and over the top of the cake. I didn’t bother to be especially careful in creating a super smooth finish on this occasion, as I wanted a more natural finish, but do as you fancy. You may even want to pipe it.

I made a very small amount of water icing with a heaped tablespoon of icing sugar and enough water to make a fairly runny paste. I coloured it a vivid green with some paste food colouring, then put it in a small disposable piping bag. I snipped off the end and swirled the icing in loose circles shapes around the edge of the top of the cake.


I very carefully cut the pistachios in to slivers, which was actually quite easy given the quality of the ones that had just arrived in the post. I scattered these on top of the green circles of icing. I then sprinkled a small amount of the gold sugar from the supermarket that I use so often. Finally, I added a few of the deep purple Mallow flowers from Sous Chef. I was delighted with how it looked.

DSC_0622 (1)

Now, this cake is actually a sponge and has no butter in it. This, of course, means that it is light and airy, but has a much shorter shelf life than a cake made with a fat in it. Therefore, I suggest that this is one of those cakes that you make, assemble and eat on the same day. It really is at its best on the day it is made, and loses a lot of its light texture when left overnight.


Having said that, the flavours are still great, with a good balance between the rich chocolate and the boozy nutty interior.

I do hope you enjoy making this cake and eating it as much as I did.



  1. This really does look beautiful Frances – I love that it’s a plain cake with the chocolate icing and pistachio filling – a chocolate cake may have gotten lost in there. Recipe provenance is a bone of contention for me like many food bloggers with a conscious! There’s nothing new under the sun and a rip off recipe sticks out a mile. But I personally love playing and experimenting until I can call something mine. The idea that you can’t copyright an ingredient list but a recipe method is copyright protected is telling. Another lovely post, my lovely x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. 😊

      I didn’t know that about copyrighting methods and not ingredients. Curious…

      Anyway, I would hate anyone to think I was just copying and not giving credit. I think my strength is putting it all together in a new way. And I hope I can encourage people to try to express themselves and finish celebrations cakes in their own way, using whatever they can get hold of.

      And, yes, the chocolate works so well in partnership with the almond and pistachio sponges. ☺️


      • Aye, it’s a minefield alright and there’s a lot of stealing intellectual property out there in the blogosphere. You’re right – credit must be given where credit is due and links back to the relevant parties go a long way in blog etiquette. Your work is beautiful Frances – I think your blog works because of the way you are so open about using other people’s recipes in unique ways. Personally, I don’t think solely blogging other people’s work without a significant twist (such as uniting three recipes to make a brand new cake like this one!) is acceptable. But back to your recipe – a friend once sent me a giant bag of slithered pistachios from the Middle East and they were the most beautiful nuts I’d ever had. And they lasted a very long time and kept their colour. I’ve never found any like it in the UK although I do keep looking 🙂


      • This bag wasn’t cheap, but they are so superior. They have a long shelf life too.

        And thank you again for kind and supportive words. 😘

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks wonderful Frances, the pistachios are a must buy, thank you for putting them our way… supermarket brands have little colour of flavour unless you shell them yourself. As to not giving credit well virtually every recipe I read these days I’ve seen a thousand times in one guise or another…it’s the blatant copying, almost word for word that I object to. As both you & Jo say…I also love to try & put my own take on a recipe..I’m certainly no where near as creative as you but you do inspire me and lots of other bakers to get those creative juices flowing…. can’t wait to try the recipe .. thanks so much ♥ Dor

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words, Dor, but I have to disagree with you on one thing. I think you are *very* creative. I love your recipes. 😊


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s