Pistachio Cardamom Cake

We had to get out.  You must know that feeling by now.  “It was a snowy, cold Sunday afternoon, you’ve been in all week and the walls are closing in around you … you have to get out of the house.”  Well, that was hubby and I.  We ended up going to a little out-of-the-way place for a late lunch and an adult beverage (or two).  Enjoying the meal and not wanting to leave the warm and friendly atmosphere of this little pub, we did something we ordinarily don’t do.  We ordered DESSERT!  Yup, I said it.  Do we live on the edge or what?

We asked the waitress for her recommendation and this is what she suggested.  Pistachio Cardamom Cake.  Huh?  Not the usual Brownie Sundae or Tiramisu or Creme Brulee or Bread Pudding (which seems to be the only desserts restaurants offer these days).  Boring!  Where has the creativity gone?  Why do restaurants think they should serve the same food as all the other restaurants?  Is it because that’s all Sysco offers?  Sorry for the cynicism but it doesn’t take much to make a creative dessert.

Well, this one was exactly what we wanted … unique, comforting, sweet and delicious!  Served warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream and worth every tasty calorie.  The first thing I did when we got home, of course, was check all my cookbooks.  Not a recipe for Pistachio Cardamom Cake to be found.  Searching the internet I did find a couple, all of which I tried.  In my attempt to duplicate the cake we had, this is about as close to it as I’ve been able to get.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

This rustic cake (or bread) is quick and easy to make.  Do be sure to toast the pistachios, and have freshly ground cardamom, if you can.  The flavor is much more intense.

PISTACHIO CARDAMOM CAKE
Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes (depending upon size of baking pan).  Serves 9 to 12.

2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom
1 cup ground toasted pistachios

4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla
dash green food coloring (optional)

Glaze:
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice or cream
1/4 cup toasted pistachios, chopped

Preparation:  If you have cardamom pods, break open the pod and grind the cardamom seeds.  You’ll need three teaspoons for the batter, but reserve 1/2 teaspoon for the glaze.  If you don’t have fresh cardamom, ground is fine.

You’ll also get more flavor from pistachios which have been slightly toasted to bring out the oils and flavor.  This is an important step.  After toasting, blitz the pistachios in a food processor until finely ground.

In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients.  Add the ground pistachios and ground cardamom.  Be sure its well blended.

In another bowl, beat the eggs and sugar til light and fluffy.  Add the additional wet ingredients and blend well.  Yes, I added a bit of green food coloring for dramatic effect.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and pour into a well-greased baking pan.  A square pan, loaf pan, cake pan … it doesn’t matter.  Bake time, however, will depend upon which pan size you use.

Bake for 30 to 50 minutes (loaf pan will take longer – cake pan will take less).  When a toothpick tested in the center comes out clean and the sides pull away from the pan, it is done.

Cool completely on a wire rack.  Meanwhile, mix the glaze.  Put the cake on a serving plate.  Spoon the glaze over and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.  Let it cool completely or serve it slightly warm.  It’s up to you.

Be sure to put the kettle on and get your tea ready.  The nutty texture from the pistachios combined with the perfume from the cardamom will warm your tummy and your spirits.  If you want to splurge and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream.  Go right ahead!  This is an easy-to-prepare, homey, quick cake (or bread) and, hopefully, you will love it as much as hubby and I.  Happy sipping!!

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