Chocolate Pistachio Cake
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A rich chocolate cake slathered in light, creamy pistachio frosting and topped with a luscious chocolate ganache, this layered Chocolate Pistachio Cake is a chocolate lover’s dream!
A Luscious, Decadent Chocolate Cake
This Chocolate Pistachio Cake is chocolatey perfection. Full of rich, chocolate goodness, balanced with a light pistachio buttercream and topped with a silky ganache.
While this layer cake looks extravagant and difficult, it’s actually really simple. I turned to my favorite chocolate cake base. It’s the same one used for my Nutella cake and peppermint fudge cake. The buttercream frosting is easy to make and the chocolate ganache requires just 3 ingredients.
The hardest part of this cake is the time required to make it, which really just requires making the cake layers well in advance so they have time to cool. I like to prepare them the night before so the assembly is quick and easy.
If you’re a fan of chocolate or pistachios, this cake is for you!
What You’ll Need
Each layer of this recipe – the chocolate cake, buttercream frosting, and chocolate ganache – is made with easy-to-find ingredients.
- All-purpose flour
- Cocoa powder – You’ll need Dutch-processed cocoa powder, not any other kind.
- Baking soda & baking powder – A small amount of each leavening agent gives this cake the perfect rise and texture.
- Unsweetened chocolate – Since this cake is so sweet and rich, I don’t recommend sweetened chocolate here.
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Buttermilk – Buttermilk and eggs helps create a tender crumb.
- Strong brewed coffee – If you don’t want to use coffee, you can use additional buttermilk.
- Pistachios – Raw or roasted pistachios both work in this recipe. Roasted pistachios will have a much stronger flavor.
- Canola oil
- Unsalted butter – Softened for easier creaming.
- Heavy cream – Gives the frosting a smooth, creamy texture.
- Confectioners’ sugar – Sweetens the frosting as well as helps make the texture extra smooth.
- Green food coloring – Optional but I like to add it to give it the green color.
- Semisweet chocolate – Be sure to use a quality brand for the best flavor.
- Light corn syrup – Gives the ganache a glossy finish.
How to Make Chocolate Pistachio Cake
While making this layered pistachio cake does require some time, the process itself is simple.
Prepare the Cake
Make the cake batter. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water, stirring until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.
Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy, then add in the eggs and vanilla. Mix in the melted chocolate then gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk and coffee.
Bake. Divide the batter between three pans. Use a spatula to smooth out the batter. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
Cool slightly in the cake pans, then invert the cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely. Peel the parchment paper off the bottoms.
Prepare the Frosting
Make the pistachio paste. Process the pistachios until they are coarsely ground. Add the oil if needed. Continue to blend, stopping and scraping down the sides as needed, until smooth and creamy.
Make the frosting. Beat the butter until smooth, then add the cream, vanilla and salt. Add 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar, beating until moistened.
Gradually add the remaining confectioner’s sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add in the pistachio paste and food coloring.
Assemble the cake. Place the first cake layer on a serving platter and spread a generous amount of frosting over the top. Repeat with the second and third layer.
After the third layer, cover the top and sides of the cake with frosting. Press the chopping pistachios on the sides and on the outer edge. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Add the ganache. Melt the ingredients over a pot of barely simmering water, stirring until melted and smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Spoon over the top of the cake, in the center of the pistachio border, using the spoon to create a smooth layer. Freeze for an additional 10 minutes.
Tips for Success
For the perfect pistachio cake, keep these things in mind.
- Use roasted pistachios for more flavor. While raw pistachios also work, roasted pistachios will provide much more flavor.
- Do not overmix the batter. The batter is going to be thick. Be sure to only mix it enough to incorporate the ingredients. Over-mixing will result in a less tender cake.
- Use only as much confectioner’s sugar as needed. Your buttercream frosting may need more or less confectioner’s sugar depending on how soft the butter is. Add it slowly and don’t worry if you don’t use all of it.
- Grinding pistachios. You need a strong food processor to grind the pistachios into a paste.
This rich, decadent cake will be a hit whenever and however you serve it. With the light green color, I love to serve this up in the spring and it makes a great Easter dessert as well.
Since it’s a layer cake, I serve smaller slices than usual. There’s no need to add any toppings or anything extra – it’s perfect just as it is!
Can I Make This in Advance?
Yes, parts of this chocolate pistachio cake can be made in advance. The cake layers (once cooled) can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated. The frosting can also be prepared a day in advance. Be sure to frost and assemble the cake within two days.
How to Store
- How to store leftovers. Leftover cake can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge. At room temperature it will stay fresh for up to 3 days while it will last for 5 days in the fridge.
- Can I freeze this cake? Yes, this cake can be frozen. The frosted cake will last for up to 2 months. Just thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.
More Chocolate Cake Recipes:
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What adjustments to the recipe are needed to make it up at altitude? We are talking over 4500 feet in altitude. TIA
Unfortunately, I don’t bake at high altitude so I can’t offer suggestions.