Do you know I love hosting people at home? It’s one of my favourite things to do for people I am close to. It doesn’t need to be any specific occasion, just a normal weekend or even weekday dinner (if work isn’t too crazy). I love to cook a nice meal for them and we usually end up having a super time eating, drinking, playing games and generally chattering non stop. Best way to spend a evening or even a lazy afternoon, don’t you think?
For New Year’s Eve last year (welcoming 2018), I decided it will just be much easier to call people home and avoid the usually NYE madness. I invited around 15 people and after much research and debating (with myself), decided on serving a mediterranean menu. Being the uber enthu cutlet I am, I planned an extensive menu : hummus, souvlaki, falafel, meatballs, moussaka, chicken wings and cake. It was a lot of food! I cooked for 2 whole days, but loved every minute of it! While the savoury courses were relatively easy to finalize, I struggled for a long time to come up with the dessert. I didn’t want to do traditional sweets like baklava because they are super tough and I’ve never made them before. Cakes are my strength and I figured it would be easy to go that route, given I figure out flavours that work. Much research later, I landed on pistachio as my hero ingredient for the cake. And what a cake!
Pistachio is such a core ingredient to mediterranean cuisine – Turkish especially. And it works really well for the Indian palate too. I read up several ways to bake with it and decided to go the gluten-free route – all pistachio!
Roast them a little to dry them slightly and then grind them into a powder. Quite easy!
To enhance the flavour, I also added cardamom and lemon. Flavour explosion!
Once cool, I topped it with a lemony cream frosting and fresh pomegranate. It looked gorgeous!
The cake is dense, not too sweet and tastes divine! All the flavours come together so beautifully and are balanced with the slightly sweet cream and the crunch of those gorgeous pomegranate pearls!
While it resonated with imagery of the mediterranean and flavours we associate with that part of the world, it was also surprisingly very Indian! By this I mean, it tastes like pistachio barfi! I never expected that! It really felt like eating an Indian sweet in cake form. So cool! I think that surprise alone made me have 2 slices! :O
You know how massive the menu was. People were stuffed. But still, when we cut the cake, everyone had more than once slice! It is just one of those things you cannot stop eating!
I made this again a month ago for a Diwali dinner I was hosting and everyone loved it there too! This is clearly a festive hit! Try it the next time you are hosting people or when you are craving something different from a cake in terms of flavour. You won’t be disappointed 🙂
Pistacho Cake (Gluten Free)
175g peeled pistachios (unsalted)
25g butter – melted
125g brown sugar
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp lemon zest
4 tsp lemon juice
70 ml whipping cream
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar
6 tbsps pomegranate seeds
- Preheat the oven to 150C.
- Melt 25g butter and set aside to cool
- Spread out the pistachios on a baking tray and bake for 5-7 minutes. Keep aside to cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Once cool, blitz the pistachios in a blender. Run the blender on pulse and keep checking to make sure the pistachios are ground fine, but don’t overdo it else they will form a paste
- Pre heat the oven to 200C. Grease and line an 8 inch baking pan.
- Whisk together the eggs and sugar for 3-5 minutes till they combine well, become fluffy and light in colour
- Fold in pistachio flour, cardamom powder, baking powder, lemon juice, lemon zest and melted butter. Make sure it is all well combined.
- Transfer to the baking pan and bake at 200C for 30-35 minutes. Once a tester comes out clean, take the cake out of the oven and let it cool.
- After 15 minutes transfer to a plate/wire rack to cool completely.
- While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting. Whip the cream for 4-5 minutes till medium peaks form.
- Add sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and whip for another 30s. Adjust sugar as per your taste.
- Keep the frosting in a sealed jar in the fridge till ready to use.
- Once the cake is fully cool, layer the frosting on. Use a large amount and get a nice thick layer of frosting.
- Top it with pomegranates and let the cake chill in the fridge till ready to serve. You can also serve immediately.