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 minutes.
  • 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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    Chiara Giglio said...

    adoro il pistacchio e questo dolce mi ha messo l'acquolina in bocca !

    domenicacooks said...

    Love pistachios love Gustaiamo and Beatrice, love this cake! What a good idea to make chocolate mint leaves. Does the chocolate pick up any mint flavor?

    Ciao Chow Linda said...

    Domenica - no, no noticeable flavor from the mint leaves.

    janie said...

    You're killing me! Your cake looks amazing. I've got to place an order for more pistachio paste and the flour too.

    Proud Italian Cook said...

    What a brilliant idea to make a frosting of the paste and mascarpone! I've never seen the flour before, tell me... How good did that cake taste??

    Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

    A delightful cake! That pistachio flour must be very fragrant.



    Marisa Franca @ Allourway said...

    I want that cake for my birthday!! It looks wonderful. Ever since you posted your pistachio gelato recipe I've been on the hunt for the pistachio paste. Thank you for the heads up on where to find it. I can't wait to order it and try your cake. Thank you for sharing.

    Stacey Snacks said...

    This cake is GORGEOUS! and I love the chocolate leaves idea, will try it.
    I will now have to order pistachio paste from Gustaiamo.
    This looks like you purchased it at a high end patisserie!

    Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

    I will definitely have to order some goodies from Gustaiamo, as it is hard to find authentic Italian products here in the Denver area. Your pistachio cake looks divine! I love the chocolate leaves on the icing--very creative, Linda!

    sississima said...

    adoro il pistacchio nei dolci, torta deliziosa!! Un abbraccio SILVIA

    Frank Fariello said...

    Now how did you know that I LOVE pistachios... ?

    SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

    I recently learned about pistachio paste and have been anxious to try it but I did not know about pistachio flour! Oh my gosh, I'll be in heaven if I can flavor a cake with both of them. How delicious this cake must be.

    Paola said...

    Beautiful cake and pistachio is a family favorite! I have been experimenting with a variety of olive oil cakes and look forward to trying this wonderful recipe substituting unflavored almond milk for whole milk.

    Claudia said...

    Smiling through this post. Have a love affair with pistachio everything! And loving the wall art - also delicious n its own way!

    Roz Corieri Paige said...

    Love everything with pistachios and now I've got to try that awesome cake. Looks like you had a great time at the festival; love all of the colorful artwork on the walls! I now also need to get my hands on some of these food specialties that you've shared!