Blast From the Past: Pistachio Cake

I have been fixated on all things pistachio ever since I had a delicious pistachio cupcake at Sugar Sweet Sunshine last month. I always loved pistachio-flavored treats as kid (pistachio ice cream was my favorite flavor!), but somewhere along the line I stopped eating it. This may be, in part, because I grew up and started to become interested in trying new things, but also, I think, maybe, pistachio fell off the flavor charts in the dessert world. You really don't see pistachio ice cream that much anymore. Anyhoo, ever since I had that cupcake, I am all about the pistachio again! The mere thought of it makes me drool! Not pretty. So, in order to help curb my pistachio cravings, I decided to make an old school pistachio cake. You know, the kind that requires one box of cake mix and one box of instant Jello pudding mix.

The ingredients and the simplicity of the recipe totally brought me back to being a kid, especially when I smelled that pudding mix for the first time in ages. Such a wonderful, heavenly scent. It was definitely one of those scent/memory moments for me. I will say that making this cake was a bit surreal, not only because of the pistachio flashbacks, but because it required a boxed mix. I really, really, really, don't like boxed mixes. Don't get me wrong. They're yummy and all, but there are just too many ingredients in those things for my taste. I did manage to find a relatively harmless cake mix though, that was also gluten free: Betty Crocker's Gluten-free Cake Mix. The ingredient list on the box is short and recognizable and it was really good! You wouldn't even have known that it was gluten free! So moist and yummy! There could have been a bit more pistachio flavor in my opinion, although everyone else liked it. I've heard that you can buy pistachio paste for more intense flavor. Has anyone tried that?

You can find the complete recipe after the jump.

Pistachio Cake

1 pkg. white or yellow cake mix
1 pkg. (4 serving size) pistachio instant pudding mix
3 eggs
1 c. club soda or water
1/2 c. oil
chopped nuts

Combine all ingredients in large mixer bowl, then beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into greased and floured 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and frost.

Frosting: There is an easy, Cool Whip frosting that usually goes with the classic pistachio cake recipe, but, because the cake is made almost entirely from mixes, I wanted to make my frosting from scratch.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread.


Unsalted butter, slightly softened 312 11 1⅜ cups
Shortening 84 3 ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon
Sugar 300 10.58 1½ cups
Egg whites 150 5.30 From 5 large eggs
Light corn syrup 40 1.40 2 tablespoons
Kosher salt ¼ teaspoon ¼ teaspoon ¼ teaspoon
Vanilla extract 1¼ teaspoons 1¼ teaspoons 1¼ teaspoons

1. In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and shortening together for 1 to 2 minutes, until they are light in color and texture but not too soft. Scrape this mixture into a different bowl and set it aside to use later. Clean the mixing bowl to use for the egg whites.

2. Combine the sugar, egg whites, corn syrup, and salt in the top pan of a double boiler. Heat over simmering water, stirring frequently, until the sugar granules have dissolved and the temperature on a food thermometer registers 140ºF. Transfer the whites to the clean mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer with a whip attachment, whip the whites on medium to medium-high speed until the mixing bowl feels just cool to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes. The mixture should be white and fluffy and very thick.

3. Add the butter mixture and the vanilla to the egg white mixture and whip again, on medium speed, until the frosting has a smooth, creamy, spreadable texture, almost like stiff whipped cream, 1 to 2 minutes.

4. The frosting can be used immediately or stored in an airtight container at room temperature, but it should be used within 3 days. You may have to stir it briskly to re-fluff it if it’s been sitting for a long time.


shaz said...

That is such a vibrant green for a cake! Looks really moist too. I know what you mean about cake mixes, I've resorted to them from time to time too though. The buttercream sounds delicious.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Ooh pistachio ice creams and pistachio flavour is one of my obsessions. It is hard to find. I've been told that it's because it's so expensive. But pistachio pudding mix puts paid to all of that!

Carolyn Jung said...

Love that neon color. Pistachio paste is definitely more expensive than pudding mix. But it does have a lot of irresistible nut flavor. Good for when you want to really amp it up. ;)

caitlyn said...

Ooooh, the cake looks really yum!

dessert girl said...

Lorraine: It's nice to know that I'm not the only one with a pistachio obsession!

Anonymous said...

In high school cooking class we made "pastry cream" out of whipping cream and jello pudding mix. You whip the cream until it's getting thick but not in peaks yet, then add the pudding mix and whip until it's done. So you could do a double-pistachio cake. I think it was 250 mL whipping cream to one packet jello pudding.

Little Gray Pixel said...

Yum. Looove pistachio. There's an ice creamery close to us that has the. best. pistachio. ice. cream. You're right, though -- the flavor is a tough one to find.

theminx said...

Mmm...love the pistachio cupcakes from Sugar Sweet Sunshine! And if I see pistachio ice cream, I buy it!

That pistachio cake is also known as a Watergate Cake, btw.

dessert girl said...

Oh, the pistachio cupcakes at Sugar Sweet Sunshine are the best!

I used to love Watergate salad when I was a kid! I was actually just talking about that recently. Yum!

Saffy said...

The Pistachio Cake looks really lovely. I will try and make a Pistachio and Olive Oil cake one day. I have so many new recipes to try out.

mrs t said...

Made this for a dinner that we were invited to tonight and everyone loved it. Thanks for sharing!

dessert girl said...

Yay! I'm so glad you liked it!

Susan said...

I recently had a wonderful pistachio cake on a visit to Florida at a restaurant called C'est la Vie. It was flat like a tort, dense, a brilliant green, and incredibly moist. If you are in Sarasota I highly recommend it. I have been hunting the web looking for something like it to try and replicate this cake. Maybe this one will work, the color is right, I'm just worried about the density and there was no frosting. I am not an experienced baker so I am open to any tips. A box cake might be just what I need. If you have happened to try this cake from C'est la Vie, how do you think they did it?

dessert girl said...

Hi, Susan,
I think this one might work for you. It's really easy to make, so it's worth a shot! There actually is a frosting. The traditional frosting for this cake is a Cool Whip frosting. If you google "pistachio cake" and "cool whip," you should be able to find it. Or go to Cooks.com and type in Pistachio Cake. I used a different frosting for mine (the recipe is at the bottom of the post). It was really yummy, but a lot more complicated than the traditional Cool Whip frosting. I hope this helps! ~Erin

dessert girl said...

Oh, I just realized that you meant that there was no frosting on the cake that you had in Florida, not that there wasn't a frosting for my cake. Sorry about that. Anyway, I would definitely try this cake. As I said, it's really easy to make. Good luck!

Finetexan said...

Blue Bell makes Pistachio Almond Ice Cream and Blue Bunny makes Pistachio Ice Cream which is available at Walmart all of the time. It is getting to be more available now.

Anonymous said...

I make this cake in double layers. For frosting I use pistachio pudding and dream whip. I finish it of with toasted coconut,chopped pecans & cherries. So good!

Anonymous said...

Oh my wow the toppings sound awesome!! Cherries would set this of even more I bet ��

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