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Chocolate Pistachio Cake

I didn’t really eat pistachios as a kid, but grew to love them in college! My fiance is quite severely allergic to them (all tree nuts, for that matter), so I rarely eat them these days. Since we don’t keep any in our apartment, that also means I never bake with them!!

I wanted to fix that, and the solution was this chocolate pistachio cake one afternoon while he was out running errands. It’s decadent, salty, and packed with pistachios!

This cake has a lot of different components, so I made the cake layers, chocolate ganache, and brigadeiros a day advance (froze the cake layers, stored brigadeiros at room temperature in an air tight container, and let the ganache sit on the counter) to break up the time commitment of this cake. The recipes used can be found below:

Begin by baking the cake layers, making 6, 8 inch layers (they will be relatively thin, and should bake flat!).

Allow the layers to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing. Wrap layers in saran wrap and place into the freeze to cool, and lock in moisture.

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While the cake layers bake, prepare the brigadeiros. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the 3 Tbsp cocoa, 1 Tbsp butter and 1 14 oz. can of condensed milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan (about 12 minutes).

Remove from heat, and chill until the mixture is cool to the touch (it should be pretty firm to the touch, and will need to be to keep it’s shape!). Form into small balls, and roll in chopped pistachios. Place onto parchment paper and chill in the fridge.

Next, prepare the pistachio buttercream. Make 1 batch of my classic American buttercream. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth.

Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Pour pistachio pudding mix into a bowl, and add 2 Tbsp heavy cream. Stir to begin to dissolve the pudding mixture. Once mixed, add into the frosting, and mix until fully incorporated. Add a couple small drops of gel food coloring to achieve a light green shade of frosting.

Then make the chocolate ganache. If making dark chocolate ganache, use a weight ratio of 2:1 (chocolate to cream). If making milk chocolate ganache, use a ratio of 3:1. For this recipe I used 2 bags of chocolate chips (about 23 oz, or 650 grams).

Place both the chocolate and heavy cream in a heat proof bowl, and heat it for 30 second increments (stirring very gently each time, scrapping the edges of the bowl). Usually after about 2 minutes of heat, all the chocolate is melted.

Once the mixture is fully incorporated and smooth, I place plastic wrap over the top of the ganache, and let it sit overnight. Before adding the room temperature ganache to a cake, I give it a slow stir with a spatula.

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Then it’s time to assemble the cake! Stack cake layers, alternating chocolate ganache and pistachio frosting, and sprinkling chopped pistachios between each layer.

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Once assembled, cover the cake in chocolate ganache. Sprinkle chopped pistachios around the base of the cake, and top with brigadeiros.

I used a large offset spatula to create rings around the side of the cake, and I sprinkled some sea salt over the top of the cake.

It tasted just as good as it looks! I brought this into work for my coworkers to help eat, and it was gone in record time 🙂

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Saturday 19th of September 2020

How can i make this a 3 layer 8 inch?


Wednesday 1st of July 2020

Looks lovely! What is pistachio pudding? We don’t seem to have it in the uk, is there a substitute please?

Jennifer Weirick

Sunday 5th of May 2019

How can I modify to make a 6" 3 layer cake? I am fine with thicker layers too.


Monday 6th of May 2019

I'd make 2/3 of the recipe! I've found thats the best way to get 6 inch cake layers that are the right thickness :)

Sharon M

Sunday 3rd of December 2017

This looks incredible!

I feel you when it comes to ingredients you aren't able to use often enough...

It's coconut for me, funny enough I was not a huge fan when I was younger. Do you find yourself craving pistachios more because you don't get to use them as often?! I feel like I wouldn't want coconut as often if my husband didn't have issues with it ? Hope that makes sense lol forgive my babbling!

Congratulations on the GF cake success, I'm going to need to try that as well.

Happy Holidays-SM


Thursday 7th of December 2017

Haha it actually sadly just makes me forget about it!!! which is so sad, since it's such a great flavor! Thanks, happy holidays to you too <3


Tuesday 14th of November 2017

So I add the corn syrup while the cream and ganache are heating up?


Tuesday 14th of November 2017

So sorry! That was from when I was testing out some things with this recipe! I've removed the corn syrup, this is just made with straight ganache.