Monday, June 29, 2015

Pistachio Olive Oil Cake

I would never have made this cake if it weren't for two gifts that arrived simultaneously: a bag of pistachio flour from my neighbor Insung and a jar of pistachio paste from, importers of fine Italian artisanal foods.

As it turns out, it's not that hard to find pistachio flour. You can buy it online here. And now you can buy pistachio paste online too, from

I had bought pistachio paste on recent trips to Italy, and used it for gelato (click here for recipe), but armed with a new jar of pistachio paste, along with the pistachio flour gift direct from Sicily, I knew that a cake was in my future.

Combining the paste with mascarpone cheese yielded a rich, spreadable frosting for the cake, and I topped it with chocolate leaves.

  Using mint leaves from my garden, I "painted" some melted chocolate on the leaves, then placed them in the refrigerator for about a half hour. Don't leave them in the refrigerator too long, or they'll become so hardened that it becomes more difficult to peel the leaves from the chocolate. In this case, I used mint leaves growing in my garden as the base. 

 You could leave the cake in one layer, but why not split it in two and provide another vehicle for frosting? Use toothpicks to help guide the serrated knife evenly through the center of the cake.

Spread a little less than half the frosting on the inside layer, then cover and spread the rest of the frosting over the top and sides. Skip the chocolate leaves if that's too fussy for you, and just decorate with the chopped pistachios instead. threw a party this past Saturday at the company's warehouse, located in a gritty neighborhood in the Bronx. The walls at the site are decorated with highly creative and fanciful art created by local graffiti artists.

 The wall art adds a fun and spunky vibe to the outside courtyard of Gustiamo, words that could also be used to describe Neapolitan-born Beatrice Ughi, owner of the company. She started the business 15 years ago, after tossing aside her corporate career to pursue her passion for quality products from small Italian farms and producers. 

At this point, she's caught the notice of many high-end Italian restaurants, including New York City's Del Posto, who rely on ingredients from Gustiamo for their recipes.  

With my recent order, I've now got my own stash of wonderful Italian products to play with too, from small white purgatorio beans to a yellow tomato passata.  Stay tuned for future posts using these great ingredients - and check out their website on your own too.

Pistachio Olive Oil Cake

cake recipe adapted from


  • Cake

  • 1½ cups (180 g) unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup (100 g) pistachio flour (see note)

  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

  • ½ cup olive oil

  • ¼ cup honey

  • ¼ cup whole milk

  • 3 large eggs

  • Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease and 8-inch round pan with oil.

  • To make the cake:
    In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, pistachio flour, lemon zest,
    baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive
    oil, honey, milk, and eggs. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry
    ingredients and stir until combined.

  • Scoop
    the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out evenly. Bake for 20 to
    22 minutes, until the cake is golden and has domed. Let cool for 10

  • Once the cake has cooled, run a knife along the edges to loosen. Flip the cake over onto a cake plate and finish cooling.

  • Frosting:

    8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened to room temperature

    1/2 jar Pistachio paste from (the full jar is about 9.8 ounces)

    1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

    For Decoration (optional): chopped pistachios and chocolate covered mint leaves

    Mix the mascarpone cheese, sugar and pistachio paste together in a mixer until smooth. Make sure the paste is thoroughly blended into the cheese, or else you'll have lumps or streaks of pistachio paste.

    Cut the cake in half using a sharp serrated knife. Spread part of the frosting on the inside of the cake; cover with the other half of the cake, and spread the rest of the frosting on the top and sides of the cake.

    Optional: Decorate with crushed pistachios on the side of the cake and with chocolate covered mint leaves.

    To make pistachio flour, take shelled, unsalted, roasted pistachios (buy
    them unshelled and save yourself some time) and pulse in ¼ of the
    pistachios in the food processor just until beginning to break down.
    Pass through a sieve to get the flour and return the pistachio pieces
    back to the food processor. Repeat until a good amount of the pistachios
    are flour (you will have meal left over, use it to top the cake.) Just
    be careful not to over pulse the nuts and turn them into butter-
    patience is key. If you try to make the cake with pistachio meal, the
    texture won't be the same.

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