Monday, January 28, 2013

Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cake with Honey Buttercream

In my past life (Orlando), I was really into baking. I baked cakes, cupcakes, pies, cookies, tons of sweet stuff. Frequently. At the time I was not as into regular cooking but I loved being in the kitchen. When we moved to New York, we became a little more health concious and I also picked out an apartment with the smallest oven ever, both of which have had an impact on my recipe making list.
I realized after my cookie swap fiasco a few weeks ago, that I could use a bit of practice in the baking department and I also realized how much I missed it. A few weeks before Louis's birthday I decided I was going to make some kind of delicious cake. His favorite ice cream flavor is pistachio so I researched a bunch of cake and cupcake recipes, mixed all of the best parts together, made my shopping list, and cleared a few hours in my schedule the day before Louis's birthday. It was my first time getting to use my Grandmum's standing mixer and it made for such a wonderful experience. I took my time getting all of the supplies and ingredients ready to use which made for a seamless and organized baking session. I've never used a standing mixer before so I had nothing to compare this one too, but it seemed pretty loud. I loved the buzzing noise and imagined my sweet grandmother zipping about her own kitchen, the white tiles, smell of sweets, and kitchen witch hanging from the window - while using this very same mixer. I may have even let the icing mix for a little longer than necessary because I wanted the sound and my thoughts to last awhile more. I really loved this day in the kitchen, and this year, I plan to find more excuses to bake.
*I took my time on this so I didn't track how long it took me to prepare. As far as servings, depends on how big you make the slices, of course!
Here's what you need:
Let me preface this with, I planned to make an entirely different recipe for the cake part, but could not seem to find cake flour anywhere. I really wanted this to be a lighter cake (A.P. flour makes a denser cake) so I decided to get a mix and improvise a bit. Since it turned out to be delicious, next time I make this I'll most likely do it the exact same way, but I know some people (typically myself included) are anti mix when it comes to baked goods.
1 box classic yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1 cup sour cream
1 box instant pistachio pudding
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup water
1 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips (only use half for cake batter)
1 cup unsalted pistachios (only use half for cake batter)
Here's what you do:
Preheat oven to 350
Remove shells from pistachios (make sure to get all of the shell off, took a bit of wriggling) & chop
Beat eggs in large mixing bowl
Add oil, sour cream, cake mix, vanilla, pudding, water and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes
Fold in 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup pistachios - don't overmix the batter
Grease 2 eight inch round cake pans
Pour half of batter into each
Bake 35 minutes (I normally start checking the last 5 minutes because bake time could vary depending on the oven)
When toothpick or knife is inserted into the center of cake and comes out clean, it's done!
Let cakes sit for 20 minutes before moving to cooling rack

And now the icing -
I'm not much of an icing girl. It's always so dang sweet and I can't handle more than a tiny bit. This honey buttercream however was just perfect. I was eating it by the spoonful! Kind of gross, I know but it was seriously so good. It was super light and not too sweet. Went perfectly with this cake.

Here's what you need:
1.5 cups unsalted butter - room temperature
2 tablespoons of honey
1/3 cup flour
1.5 cups milk
1.5 cups sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream - no time for lighter substitutions! treat yourself.
1 teaspoon vanilla

Here's what you do:
Whisk together flour and sugar in a large saucepan
Turn heat to medium, add cream and milk
Whisk constantly to avoid clumps for 12 minutes or until mixture boils and thickens
Transfer mixture to mixing bowl and beat on high until it cools, about 8-10 minutes
Turn mixer to the butter setting and slowly add butter
Turn mixer to higher speed and beat 3 minutes until fluffy
Add honey and vanilla
Taste! It's the perfect amount of sweet.

Assembling the cake:
-Make sure the cakes are completely cool. Don't be impatient!!
-Place one cake on stand or platter, spread icing over the top and sprinkle a few chocolate chips and pistachios.
-Place second cake on top and cover both cakes completely with icing. Once covered you can smooth using a butter knife or wooden spoon - or whatever is easist for you to handle.
-Sprinkle chocolate chips and pistachios around the edge of top layer as well as around the bottom of the cake. I used the back of a teaspoon to gently press the pistachios and chocolate into the icing along the bottom of the cake. 
I love pistachios, but not pistachio ice cream, so I wasn't sure how I'd like this cake. Let me tell you, it's amazing. I had lots of people try it as well and everyone agreed that it was super delicious. I honestly couldn't believe how good it was. I loved the texture - very moist with chunks of pistachios and chocolate coupled with the honey buttercream. I'll definitely be making this again in the future!!
Happy Monday, everyone!!

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