Pistachios are kernels of an olive like tree and mainly cultivated in Iran and other Mediterranean countries and recently in California and other western countries as well.
My memories of pistachio nut mainly revolve around Eid celebration when my mum used to soak, blanch and sliver pistachios with other nuts to make the traditional vermicelli pudding. Blanching and removing the skin made their green colour more vivid. They are widely used in many Asian and Mediterranean sweet and savoury dishes, and used as decoration for most sweets and desserts. It has been shown to reduce cholestrol in studies.
I had my friends over for a Mediterranean lunch and I wanted make a dessert with similar flavours that would be the perfect ending to this meal. I found two very good recipes featuring pistachios, but the combination of Cardamom and Pistachio sounded too good to resist in Ready for Dessert.
How did I get this book
What little I know about blogging comes from this article from David Lebovitz. Whilst writing my first post I contacted Jacqui Small, the publisher of Mitch Turner's book to get their permission to use the recipe on the blog. Not only were they happy to oblige, but when they realised I liked one of his other books, they sent me "Ready for Dessert" which was recently released in the UK. I wish I could have headed to Divermenti for the book signing.
I could easily make all the recipes in the book. They widely range from simple to a little complicated, hot and cold treats, and feature somewhat slightly unusual ingredients as well. What I love about his style of writing most is the humour and story telling, which is aptly included in the introduction to most of his recipes.
Pistachio and Cardamom Cake
adapted from David Lebovitz, Ready for Dessert
Unsalted butter 30 grams
Sugar 1 teaspoon
Almonds (sliced) 60 grams
Plain flour 110grams and 30 grams
Pistachios (shelled unsalted) 100grams
Cardamom seeds 2 teaspoon
Butter (unsalted) 115 grams
Caster sugar 200 grams
Egg (large) 3
Baking powder 1 teaspoon
Preheat oven to 180C (gas mark 160C)
Make the topping by melting butter in a 23cm round cake tin on a stove top on low heat. Once melted let it cool and then sprinkle with sugar.
Add the almonds, making sure they coat the bottom of the pan evenly.
Sift flour, salt and baking powder together.
Finely chop pistachios with 30 grams of flour. Crush the cardamom seeds very finely as well and mix in the pistachio mixture.
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until well combined.
Stir in the flour, followed by the pistachio mixture till just combined.
Spoon the batter in mounds on top of almonds. Bake for 40 minutes or till a skewer comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes.
Release edges by running a knife around the sides of the cake and then invert on the plate.
You can buy unsalted, unshelled pistachios in most asian stores in bulk or baking aisles of supermarkets.
Serve it with some fresh clotted cream or fruit compote or sorbet as suggested by David Lebovitz.
Can be frozen up to 1 month.
I have brushed the top with gold dust for some dramatic effect, as the story in the book reminded me of the silver leaf decoration used on top of many asian desserts.