Friday, December 25, 2009

Chocolate-pistachio cake

I made this recently for dessert for a dinner with friends of ours, to have as well as the pomegranate ice cream. I actually have not made this cake for 5 years, when I made it for the same friend's 30th birthday. I have not avoided making it since then because I didn't like the recipe, but just because I found shelling the nuts a chore. Shelled pistachios are now more readily available, so I am going to have to make this cake part of my regular repertoire, because it is seriously delicious! The recipe is from How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson.

For the cake:
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g pistachios
  • 150g soft unsalted butter
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 lemon
  • pinch salt
  1. Grease and line a 23cm springform tin. Preheat the oven to 190C.
  2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave on medium. Leave aside to cool slightly.
  3. Process 50g of the sugar with the nuts until they are like dust. Add the butter along with another 50g of the sugar; process until smooth. Add the yolks one at a time, pulsing after each addition. Then, with the motor running, slowly pour in the chocolate.
  4. Wipe the inside of a bowl with the lemon half (I didn't bother with this step, but the bowl must be scrupulously clean and free of any fat to allow maximum aeration of the egg whites). Whisk the egg whites with the salt until peaks are starting to form. Then slowly add the remaining 50g of sugar while still beating until the egg whites form firm peaks.
  5. Add a large dollop of the egg whites to the cake batter and pulse to lighten the mixture. Then add the cake batter to the whites, one third at a time, and fold in gently but firmly.
  6. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 180C and bake for a further 20-25 minutes, or until cooked. The cake will be starting to come away from the sides of the tin when it is ready.
  7. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes on a wire rack before removing from the tin. Wait until the cake is completely cooled before icing it.
The icing:
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 150ml cream
  • drop of orange-flower water (optional)
  • 2-4 tbs coarsely chopped or slivered pistachios
Add chocolate, broken into pieces, and cream into a saucepan, along with the orange-flower water. Stir over a low heat until the chocolate is melted. Keep stirring off the heat until the ganache is thick enough to coat, then pour over the cake. Sprinkle over the pistachios.

Serve with either plain creme fraiche, or with a little orange-flower water whisked in. (When I made this for my friend's 30th, I made Turkish Delight Syllabub to serve as alongside the cake - recipe from Nigella Bites - you can view the recipe here).

pistachios and sugar; pistachio meal

adding butter and sugar

adding yolks

adding chocolate; cake batter

left: the cake once cooked - note the cake is pulling away from the sides; right: once cooled, flourless cakes like this tend to sink in the middle and are then deliciously fudgy in the centre

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