Pistachio Cake with Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting

Just kidding, it tastes like almonds.

You know when you start something and you almost immediately realize it’s not going to go the way you wanted it to? Maybe you’ve been thinking about this thing or hearing about that thing for months, and then you finally start, only to immediately have something occur to make you question whether it’s a good idea, yet you do it anyway, because you are a completionist dammit, and you will finish what you started.

Basically, what I’m saying is that this cake was the culinary equivalent of the time I decided to read Fifty Shades of Grey.

Maybe that isn’t a fair comparison. After all, I had high hopes for this cake, and my expectations for that, um, “novel” were considerably lower. But as it turns out, Twilight fan fiction can actually be much, much worse than you expected, and pistachio cake can taste so much more like almonds than you would ever think possible.  

Because hello, the can said pistachio paste on the label! The ingredients were pistachios, sugar, and natural flavoring. Shouldn’t it then follow that whatever you make with it will taste like pistachio?

Apparently not. Apparently "natural flavoring" is just code for almond extract. Whyyyyy?

I knew I was in trouble as soon as I popped the lid on the can, and the heady, strong scent of almond extract wafted out.  Not good. I figured, hey, maybe the flavor will die down and I will I have a lovely pistachio flavored cake with a tiny hint of almond. I kept going, determined to finish this cake, especially now that I had an entire open can of pistachio paste I no longer had any interest in eating. I mixed the cake. It did not especially smell like almonds. I baked the cake. It was tolerable. I frosted the cake. Now it mostly smelled like chocolate. I cut into the cake and tried a piece. Yeah, it was a little almondy but not too terrible, even though I couldn’t taste pistachio at all. I tried another piece the next day. Sadly, like E.L. James with a movie deal, the almond had grown stronger in its convictions, overpowering all other flavors. I wrapped up the cake and banished it to the depths of my freezer.

Obviously, this experience was only terrible for me because of my deeply rooted hatred of all things almond-flavored. Taste is personal. I hear there are actual real fans of Fifty Shades of Grey, so to each their own. If you love pistachios, this cake will only give you the bitter, almond taste of disappointment. If you love almonds, you will love this cake.

Please, come remove it from my house.

Pistachio Cake with Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting

Adapted from My Name is Yeh

For the Cake:

½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
8 oz. pistachio paste (see note)
6 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
½ cup sugar

For the frosting:

1 1/2 c whipping cream
1/2 c powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla
2 tbs cocoa powder

For decorating:

a couple handfuls chopped pistachios
cacao nibs, for decorating


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºf. Butter and flour two 8- or 9-inch or three 6-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper, then set aside.
  2. Combine flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat pistachio paste and egg yolks until well blended, then stir in vanilla extract and set aside. If you are using a stand mixer, transfer the egg mixture to another large bowl and clean and thoroughly dry your mixing bowl and attachment.
  4. In a separate bowl (or your cleaned stand mixer bowl), beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Beat in sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue beating the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  5. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture a little at a time (it may take some time to fully blend the two egg mixtures, have patience!) and then gently fold in the flour mixture until fully incorporated into the batter. Pour the batter into your prepared cake pans and bake until a tooth pick comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.
  6. Let cakes cool completely (see note).

To decorate:

  1. Mix together the powdered sugar and cocoa. Whip the whipping cream to soft peaks, then gradually beat in the powdered sugar mixture and vanilla extract, and continue whipping to stiff peaks.
  2. Dollop a generous amount of frosting onto your first layer, smooth it out and sprinkle with cacao nibs. Repeat with remaining layers (don’t sprinkle cacao nibs on top layer).  Spread remaining frosting over the layers until smooth and cake is completely covered. Sprinkle the top of the cake with cacao nibs and pistachios, if desired.


  • I used this pistachio pasteIf I ever make this again I'm going to try to find another brand or just make my own.
  • My cake layers came out of the oven very puffed up and almost souffle like. They collapsed into denser layers while cooling, so don't be alarmed if this happens.