Pistachio cake

This pistachio cake is one of those recipes every cook must have in their repertoire. In our house, we have this sort of system in which we rate all of our recipes. A recipe either passes or fails kind of thing, which means that if the recipes is good enough then we can make it a regular thing, and make it all the time if we wanted to. Well, this, is one of those recipes that passed with A+. We use it whenever we want to celabrate something, as it is one of our best ones.

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Every cake has a name, whether is vanilla caramel cake, or chocolate, or strawberries and cream cake, or those flavors we all love because of how comforting they are. But here’s the thing, it bothers me when they name a cake after an ingredient or flavor, but then in reality it doesn’t really taste of that thing; that happens a lot with complex flavors, like when they say black forest cake and it really only tastes like chocolate with cherries on top.

That has always been one of my pet peeves; I want cakes to taste like what they are supposed to. So you can totally trust me in that this cake tastes like pistachio and it will blow your mind. You will see pistachios under a whole different light after trying this recipe. Mark my words.

Now, pistachio is great. It is one of those ingredients that, when it comes to desserts, is sort of unexpected, because they are usually eaten savory. But is one of those ingredients that goes absolutely great with sweet things. That’s why there is pistachio ice cream and chocolate bars with pistachio. In fact, I think they go great with acid and sweet fruits, like strawberries or raspberries. So don’t be affraid to try this, you will love it.

One thing to consider is that this recipe calls for pistachio paste, which is not the same as pistachio extract. Pistachio paste is a paste made only of crushed pistachios. You can get it in any specialized shop, but it oyu can’t find it, you can make it at home. You will need a food processor or a kitchen robot to make it. Just process the pistachios (they must not be salted) until you get a paste. The pistachios will release their own natural oil.

Now, as for decoration we as always choose the most natural and simplest thing, but you can take this recipe and go crazy with it; use fondant instead of frosting, or use colorants to make the frosting green, or whatever, have fun!

If you like this recipe you have to go see our snickers cake recipe.

Pistachio cake
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
42 mins
Refrigeration time
2 hrs
Total Time
3 hrs 27 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10
For the cake:
  • 5 eggs , separated
  • 1 3/4 C (12.34 oz) (350 gr) granulated white sugar
  • 1/8 tsp (0.28 oz) (0.8 gr) cream of tartar
  • 3/4 C (6 oz) (170 gr) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 C (2 fl oz) (60 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp (0.17 fl oz) (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp (0.52 oz) (15 gr) pistachio paste* (not extract)
  • 1 C (8.11 fl oz) (240 ml) buttermilk
  • 2 C all purpouse flour (or flour for pastries or cakes)
  • 1/2 C (2.11 oz) (60 gr) unsalted natural pistachios grounded
  • 1 1/4 tsp (0.55 oz) (15.70 gr) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (0.12 oz) (3.5 gr) baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp (0.12 oz) (3.5 gr) salt
For the filling:
  • 3/4 C (6 oz) (170 gr) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 C (3.95 oz) (112 gr) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 C (1 oz) (30 gr) confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (0.12 oz) (3.5 gr) salt
  • 1 tsp (0.17 fl oz) (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp (0.52 oz) (15 gr) pistachio paste*
  • 1/2 C (0.88 oz) (25 gr) small white marshmallows (or 4 big white marshmallows)
  • 1 tbsp (0.50 fl oz) (15 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1/3 C + 1 tbsp (1.38 fl oz) (100 ml) condensed milk
  • 1/2 C + 1 tbsp (4.73 fl oz) (140 ml) whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 C (6.34 oz) (180 gr) unsalted natural pistachios , finely chopped
For the frosting:
  • 2/3 C (5.41 fl oz) (160 ml) whole milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (the seeds only) or 1 tsp (0.17 fl oz – 5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C (3.52 oz) (100 gr) granulated white sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp (0.28 oz) (8 gr) corn starch
  • 2/3 C (5.29 oz) (150 gr) cream cheese , at room temperature
  • 2/3 C (5.29 oz) (150 gr) unsalted butter , at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp (0.52 oz) (15 gr) confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (0.123 oz) (3.5 gr) salt
  • 1 1/2 C (6.34 oz) (180 gr) unsalted natural pistachios , finely chopped
For the cake:
  1. Preheat the oven at 350° F.

  2. In a big bowl, sift flour, grounded pistachios, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Mix using a spoon and set aside. 

  3. In another bowl, with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and 1 cup of sugar for 2 minutes until you get a fluffy and lighter in color mixture. 

  4. Beat in the vegetable oil and then the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. 

  5. Add in the vanilla and the pistachio paste and beat for 3 more minutes until the mixture is really fluffy. 

  6. Incorporate the previously sifted dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry igredients (once you add in the dry ingredients, it is important not to beat to much, just until the mixture is homogenized).

  7. Making sure the beaters of the mixer are clean and completely dry, in another clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the rest of the sugar (3/4 of a cup) and the cream of tartar for 4 minutes aprox. until the egg whites turn fluffy and firm. 

  8. Incorporate the egg whites to the main mixture in three additions using a rubber spatula, mixing form the outside in.

  9. Divide the batter by pouring it in two cake pans (9 inch -23cm- in diameter), previously greased and floured, and bake for 40 minutes or until a wooden stick comes out clean when inserted. 

  10. Let the cakes cool down for 10 min. inside the pans and then turn them out and place them on a cooling rack for them to cool down completely.

For the filling:
  1. In a big bowl, cream the cream cheese, butter and confectioners sugar together using a hand mixer until you get a fluffy mixture.

  2. Beat in the salt, vanilla and pistachio paste until it all incorporates.

  3. In a small microwave-safe bowl, mix the marshmallows with the vegetable oil so that they all end up coated (you can add some more oil if necessary). Microwave them for 10 seconds, then mix using a spoon to make the marshmallows start melting; repeat this once or twice more until the marshmallows form a sort of sticky cream or fluff. Immediatly add this fluff to the cream cheese mixture and beat until well incorporated.

  4. Incorporate the condensed milk and mix for 1 more minute until you get a soft creamy mixture. 

  5. Lastly, add the whipping cream and beat for 20 seconds, just until incorporated, otherwise the mixture will curdle.

  6. Place this in a pipping bag without a tip (it won´t be necessary) and fridge it for 1 hour or until you need it.

For the frosting:
  1. In a small pot, place the milk along with half of the sugar and the vanilla seeds and heat it to low heat, whisking occasionally using a hand whisk.

  2. In a small bowl, mix the rest of the sugar with the egg yolks and the corn starch. Add in a little of the milk mixture and mix for the temperatures to even out.

  3. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the pot with the milk and cook to medium heat for 3 minutes aprox., stiring nonstop, until it thickens. 

  4. Turn off the heat, pour this cream in a clean bowl, cover it with plastic wrap (which must be touching the cream surface, otherwise a custard will form) and refrigerate for 1 hour.

  5. Meanwhile in a big bowl, using a hand mixer, cream together the cream cheese, butter, confectioners sugar and salt. Beat for 3 minutes or until the mixture turns fluffy and lighter in color.

  6. Add the refrigerated cream to this (which must already be cold) and mix until it´s all well incorporated and the frosting turns out soft and creamy. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until necessary. 

To assemble:
  1. Take the filling and the frosting out of the fridge. 

  2. With a really sharp knife, cut each cake in half to get 4 thinner cake layers.

  3. Place one of the layers on a big plate or a cake stand (which is where your cake will be presented). With the pipping bag put enough filling and spread all over the surface of this piece of cake, and then evenly place 1/2 C natural pistachios, chopped. Repeat his step twice more finishing with layering the fourth and final piece of cake on the top. 

  4. Cover the cake with a lid and refrigerate for 30 minutes, this will make all of the layers sit and make it easier for us to frost the cake later on.

  5. Frost the cake the way you want to and decorate with some more natural chopped pistachios.

Recipe Notes

*The pistachio paste is obtained by smashing pistachios which, given that they have a high vegetable fat concentration, make a pure paste that can be used to flavor a lot of recipes. It can be found at baking supply shops.