Monday, June 23, 2008


I made this very special cake for a very special occasion. My parent's 30th wedding anniversary is tomorrow! Happy Anniversary mom and dad! I saw this cake on Smitten Kitchen  and immediately knew I wanted to make it for their anniversary. There is clearly more to this cake than your typical layer cake accompanied by boring butter cream. I'm not going to lie, this cake is very involved but it is so worth it and I'm truly proud of it! So, be proud of me, OK? This is my first time working with marzipan and anything pistachio related and I assure you it isn't my last! The base of the cake is pretty straight forward using ground toasted pistachio's throughout. The layers are bound with marzipan, apricot preserves, and chocolate ganache. 
I garnished the upper and lower rims of the cake with crushed pistachios and place 4 sugar flowers in the center. If I had more time, I most definitely would have attempted to make marzipan flowers, but I'll save that for another time.  This cake was so delicious. The varying tastes of pistachio, chocolate, apricot and almond were tremendous. The pistachio taste was not overbearing at all and perfected complimented the other ingredients. This cake has officially opened me up to a world of marzipan. Definitely make this for something special!


For the cake
3/4 cup skinned pistachio nuts
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 eggs, lightly beaten

For the marzipan
8 ounces almond paste
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup

For the dark ganache glaze
1 pound extra-bittersweet chocolate
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup apricot preserves

Marzipan roses for decoration (optional)

Make the cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Spread out the pistachios in a baking pan and toast in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes, or until lightly colored. Transfer to a dish and let cool completely. Finely chop the pistachios and set 1/4 cup aside for decoration.

3. Put the remaining 1/2 cup pistachios in a food processor. Add the sugar and pulse just enough to grind them finely.

4. Pour into a large mixing bowl and add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend with the mixer on low for 30 seconds. Add the butter, milk, and vanilla and, with the mixer on low, beat until completely incorporated.

5. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beaten eggs in 2 or 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and mixing only long enough to blend after each addition. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans.

6. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the layers to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely.

Make the marzipan (You can also use store bought marzipan)
1. Crumble the almond paste into a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on low speed to soften the almond paste. Add the confectioners’ sugar and corn syrup and beat until smooth. Wrap well in plastic so it
doesn’t dry out, and allow to rest at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before rolling out.

Make the dark ganache glaze (I used Ghirardelli)
1. Chop the chocolate coarsely and put it in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a bare simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth and use the glaze soon after making so that it
doesn’t set.

Assemble the cake
1. Roll out a third of the marzipan on a work surface dusted with a little confectioners’ sugar to about 1/8-inch thickness.

2. Set one of the cake pans upside down on the marzipan and trim around it with a small knife to make an 8-inch round. Repeat two more times with the remaining marzipan. Save all your scraps to make roses for decoration, if you like.

3. Place one cake layer on a cake board, flat side up. Spread 1/4 cup of the preserves evenly over the top, leaving a 1/4-inch margin all around. Place one marzipan round on top of the preserves and spread 1/3 cup of the Dark Ganache Glaze over the marzipan so that it completely covers the surface. Repeat with the second cake layer, adding more preserves, another round of marzipan, and more ganache glaze. Top the cake with the third layer. Spread the last of the apricot preserves over the top of the cake and cover it with the last round of marzipan.

4. Place the cake on a wire cooling rack that is nesting in a baking pan. Pour the remaining ganache glaze over the cake, in several additions, spreading to coat the top and sides. Allow the ganache to set. Garnish the cake with the reserved chopped toasted pistachio nuts and a single marzipan rose or several smaller roses.


Jules Someone said...

Just gorgeous. Mazel tov to your folks!

Cheryl said...

Man, I have been eyeing this recipe for a long time, just dying to make it. Maybe when my mom comes to visit next week. Hmmmmmm....

Yours looks gorgeous and delicious! (your cake, not your mom)