Holy Pistaciho!

February 5, 2011

in Cakes,Italian,Recipes

Sicilian Pistachio Cake

Feliz Cumpleaños Mami, espero te guste tu pastel!

Today is my mom’s 81st birthday!

I decided to make her a pistachio cake because not only does she love pistachios, a couple of months ago while she was watching a movie she decided she was going to help me shell some pistachios well, she must have shelled like a pound of them! So, I thought it would be totally fitting for me to make something for her using some of them.

Heavenly Cakes

Oh… that nun in the picture is actually my mom like 10-15 years before I was even a thought in her mind. She was a school teacher nun for almost 20 years with las Siervas de Jesus Sacramentado in Mexico.

She wrote a letter to the Pope asking for his permission and blessing in order for her to leave the religious house. Once she recived his blessing and approval she packed up her bags and came to the US to start a new life. A few months after living here she met my dad and the rest is history…

Sicilian Pistachio Cake

Now back to the cake, I personally loved it! It’s not a light and fluffy cake, it’s a little on the dense side but it’s pack with flavor and best enjoyed with a cup of black coffee as my mom would personally enjoy it or a nice hot cup of tea.

Sicilian Pistachio Cake

Sicilian Pistachio Cake

adapted from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Cake Batter
2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 blanched pistachios, finely ground
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour, sifted into the cup and leveled off
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

Set rack to the lower third level of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine eggs, 3 tablespoons sour cream, vanilla and almond extract in a small bowl, whisk together to combine.

Mix together flour, sugar, ground pistachios, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of the stand mixer for about 30 seconds or whisk. Add butter and remaining sour cream mix on low just until moistened, increase speed to medium and beat for 1-2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.

Gradually add the liquid ingredients mixing 30 seconds between each addition.

Bake cake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. Cool cake on a wire rack.

Make sure the cake has cooled completely before frosting, the cake can be chilled overnight in the refrigerator.

Golden Neoclassic Buttercream
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup golden or light corn syrup
1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 drops pistachio essence (optional)
1/4 cup pistachios, finely chopped
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon blanched pistachio nuts, slivered or coarsely chopped

Whip the egg yolks in a medium heat-proof bowl until they turn a pale yellow. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, syrup, and lemon juice. Give the pan quick stir to moisten. Place pan over medium-high heat stirring constantly until mixture comes up to a rolling boil.

Remove pan from heat, slowly pour syrup over egg yolks while beating with a hand mixer making sure not to poor syrup directly over the beaters. Continue mixing until mixture has cooled 5-7 minutes. Once bowl is cool to the touch begin adding one tablespoon of butter at a time while continuing to beat.

Add vanilla extract, pistachio essence and pistachios. Mix to incorporate.

Frost cake with buttercream and sprinkle with slivered pistachios.

Golden Neoclassic Buttercream
Sicilian Pistachio Cake

Pre-Mommy Days

Love you Mom!

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ken│hungry rabbit February 5, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I could use a slice of this cake right about now, later and forever. The green hue is so alluring.


2 Belinda @zomppa February 5, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Wow! What a story! Your mom is a beautiful woman – what a gorgeous cake, too!!


3 Kimmie February 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Happy Birthday to your mom!

What a gorgeous and unique cake! I just love pistachios, as they were always my grandmother’s special snack. I had forgotten how much I love them in baked goods – thanks for the sweet inspiration! =)


4 Food Frenzy February 5, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Love pistachios…love the cake.

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5 Kathia February 5, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Felicidades a tu mami Josie, que dichosa q la tienes cerca.la Mia cumpleanos este mes tambien


6 Priyanka February 6, 2011 at 1:19 am

Awesome and yummy………………………..love all of ur recipes… :)
And you r a wonderful daughter :)


7 bryan February 6, 2011 at 9:00 am

What a great cake… what a great tribute to your mother. I just love pistachios


8 A little bit of everything February 6, 2011 at 6:10 pm

happy birthday to your Mom. what a great story and what a gorgeous cake. looks so good, thanks for sharing. hope you’ll have a wonderful Monday


9 briarrose February 6, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Wonderful story. I hope she had a lovey birthday. :)

The cake looks fabulous. Who could not love all the wonderful pistachio? :)


10 megi February 7, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Happy birthday to your mom. The cake looks lovely, thank you for sharing the recipe and the story.


11 Regina February 7, 2011 at 4:51 pm

This looks so “heavenly”! Happy Birthday to your mom, I am sure she had a wonderful day since included that cake. :)


12 Nancy@acommunaltable February 7, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Now I know where your beauty came from!!! Speaking of beauty that cake is gorgeous and a nice change from chocolate!!!


13 lil @ sweetsbysillianah February 7, 2011 at 9:10 pm

sigh… i knew i should’ve bought the bag of pistachios at trader joe’s… but nuts are so expensive! definitely next time… i’ve been wanting to make a pistachio cake for a while… even tho you mention the cake is dense, it actually looks so light and fluffy… yum!


14 Kimberly(unrivaledkitch) February 7, 2011 at 10:59 pm

this is such a beautiful cake! I’m sure your mom loved it. thank goodness your mom changed her mind and had such a beautiful family

Happy birthday to your Mama


15 Pauline February 8, 2011 at 12:55 am

What a beautiful photo! I agree with your mum, different cakes need different drinks and coffee and pistachios go well.


16 Liz February 8, 2011 at 4:15 am

What a gorgeous cake! Love the pistachio garnish. And happy birthday to your beautiful mom!!! I have 2 fabulous cousins b/c my aunt left the convent to marry :)


17 Vicki @ Wilde in the Kitchen February 8, 2011 at 4:48 am

I love a green cake and I love your moms story! What a wonderful way to celebrate her birthday!


18 Stephanie @ okie dokie artichokie February 8, 2011 at 5:50 am

That just looks absolutely gorgeous! Love, Love, LOVE the splays of green against the white of the frosting. Gorgeous! And I have no doubt, you’re mom loved el pastel! :-p



19 RavieNomNoms February 8, 2011 at 6:07 am

What a gorgeous cake! Nicely done, it looks so amazing! I love the green color :-)


20 Heavenly Housewife February 8, 2011 at 6:36 am

What a stunning cake… ALMOST as beautiful as your mother. Wishing her a happy birthday!
This is going into my bookmarks folder.
*kisses* HH


21 MarmandeintheKitchen February 8, 2011 at 6:57 am

That is such a beautiful cake! Happy birthday to your mom!


22 Evan Thomas February 8, 2011 at 6:57 am

Great recipe! My dad loves pistachios so I could see this coming in handy.


23 Kate @ Diethood.com February 8, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Oh goodness, that looks so good! Lucky mom! Happy Birthday to her! Can she come by and shell some pistachios for me because I am itching to make some pistachio ice cream and maybe this cake. :)


24 Cindy February 9, 2011 at 12:37 am

What a lovely cake!
Happy birthday and best wishes to your mom!


25 Kita February 9, 2011 at 6:10 am

Happy Birthday to your momma! This cake looks beautiful! I needed pistachios in something recently and couldn’t believe how expensive they were. Any tips on where to get them on the less expensive side?


26 Daydreamer Desserts February 9, 2011 at 6:16 am

Thanks Kita! Have you tried http://www.ohnuts.com/ ? It’s one of my favorite places to buy nuts.


27 sara @CaffeIna February 9, 2011 at 9:50 pm

I always love hearing your mom’s stories! She must be such a great and cool person! I just feel that! Feliz cumpleanos Josie’s Mami! I’m sure she loved this cake. And I have to say…Sicilians know how to use pistachos in desserts!


28 Joy February 11, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Ohh this looks wonderful.


29 Rachel Jamison December 29, 2012 at 11:08 am

Just so you know, you never say in the recipe when to add the sugar and so this is the second time I have made the cake and this time for my sons birthday forgot the sugar. Hope it turns out.


30 Daydreamer Desserts January 8, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Hi Rachel, so sorry about that. I hope your cake turned out. I’ll update the recipe as soon as I get home tonight.



31 Grayce November 9, 2013 at 5:31 am

Josie………. must not be home yet…………. still can’t tell when to add the sugar! I went ahead and creamed the butter with the sugar, then added the wets, gradually added the drys and the additional sour cream………. The cake looks great! I’ll report again after frosting…… and TASTING the cake.



32 Daydreamer Desserts November 9, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Hi Grayce, Sorry I just added that missing step. Either way is fine, but for this particular recipe I added the sugar along with the dry ingredients. Thanks for stopping by. -Josie


33 Neriad13 July 20, 2013 at 2:26 pm

A few comments and revisions:
– As it doesn’t say when to add the sugar in the recipe, I put it in along with the other dry ingredients and had no problems whatsoever.
– I thought the icing turned out horribly, terribly buttery, so I added roughly 1/2 lb of powdered sugar to it – just enough so that it wouldn’t taste like I was frosting a cake in butter and not so much as to make it incredibly sweet.
– While salted pistachios don’t have as pretty a color, they did make for a nice salty-sweet combination and the additional sodium didn’t seem to disturb the Ph balance of the cake.


34 Daydreamer Desserts November 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Hi Neriad, So sorry, Somehow I totally missed your comment… just saw it now. I’ve gone ahead and added the missing step for the sugar. You were correct in adding it along with the other dry ingredients. I’ve made this cake a few times and didn’t really think the buttercream frosting was too rich, but love that you adapted it to your liking. I’ll have to try making it again using salted pistachios! Thanks for stopping by. -Josie


35 Dawn December 6, 2013 at 9:08 am

Silly question, but did you add any green food coloring, at all? Or do the pistachios turn both the cake and frosting, green? Thanks!


36 Michelle Micciche June 5, 2014 at 11:57 am

What size cake pan is this?


37 Daydreamer Desserts June 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Hi Michelle, I used a 9″ pan. -Josie


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