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Chocolate Pistachio Cake

This layered Chocolate Pistachio Cake will turn heads! Rich decadent chocolate cake slathered in light, creamy pistachio frosting. It looks just as good as it tastes. A luscious chocolate ganache rests on top of the cake with a ring of crushed pistachios encasing it. It's a chocolate lover's dream!

Chocolate pistachio cake on a wooden cake stand with a cream colored napkin around the base.

It's starting to feel like spring here already. Currently, the windows are open and the sun is filling the office as I work. Oh, how I've missed these gorgeous days.

The weather has me craving time away. Maybe somewhere tropical. Somewhere warm.

That's exactly what I'll be doing at the end of the month. We're sailing away on a 10 cruise and I. Can't. Wait.

I've been busy planning enough recipes and posts to keep the blog afloat while we travel. And there's been so much chocolate! Earlier this week I shared these homemade thin mints. And now this glorious chocolate pistachio cake.

A slice of triple layer chocolate pistachio cake on a bamboo plate with a fork next to it.

This is a mega chocolate cake! So full of rich chocolaty goodness but balanced with a light pistachio buttercream. It's perfection.

While this chocolate pistachio 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 chocolate batter contains both cocoa powder and melted chocolate which is enhanced with some strong brewed coffee. If you'd rather not add coffee to the cake, you can replace it with buttermilk.

After you bake the chocolate cake layers, it's time to cover them with frosting. I am loving this pistachio frosting. It's incredible.

You need unsalted shelled pistachios and a strong food processor. All you have to do is grind the pistachios into a paste.

High-angled view of chocolate pistachio cake on a wooden cake stand.

Make a basic vanilla buttercream frosting and stir the pistachio paste in at the very end. I like to add a drop of green food coloring also, but this is totally optional.

Make sure the cake is completely cool then spread some frosting in between each layer and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Finish the cake with chocolate ganache and crushed pistachios.

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Chocolate pistachio cake on a wooden cake stand with a cream colored napkin around the base.

Chocolate Pistachio Cake

Yield: 24 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

This layered Chocolate Pistachio Cake will turn heads! Rich decadent chocolate cake slathered in light, creamy pistachio frosting. It looks just as good as it tastes. A luscious chocolate ganache rests on top of the cake with a ring of crushed pistachios encasing it. It’s a chocolate lover’s dream!

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup (57 g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (113 g) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 ¾ cups (350 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups (360 ml) buttermilk
  • ½ cup (120 ml) strong brewed coffee, cooled

For the frosting

  • 1 ½ cups (184 g) unsalted pistachios, shelled - Note 1
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 2 cups (454 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3-6 cups (720 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-2 drops green food coloring
  • 1 cup (123 g) unsalted pistachios, shelled and chopped for garnish

For the ganache

  • 2 ounces (56 g) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Instructions

Make the cake

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Spray 3 8-inch round pans with nonstick spray. Line the bottoms with parchment paper cut into a circle to fit the pan. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray and dust the pan lightly with cocoa powder. Tap out any excess and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir with a whisk and set aside.
  3. Add the chocolate to a small heatproof bowl and set it over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir continuously until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool.
  4. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer beat the butter and sugar together on medium-low speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Add the melted chocolate and mix until well incorporated. With the mixer set to low speed. gradually add half the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk and coffee, and then the remaining flour mixture. Beat just until combined. The batter will be thick.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter all the way to the edges of the pan and smooth out the surface. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few dry crumbs. Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely. Peel the parchment paper off the bottoms before filling.

Make the frosting

  1. In a food processor, process the pistachios until they become coarsely ground. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the oil if the pistachios aren't breaking down easily. Continue to blend, stopping and scraping down the sides as needed until smooth and creamy. This can take a while depending on the strength of your blender. Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or with an electric hand mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth. Add the cream, vanilla, and salt. Continue to beat until incorporated.
  3. Add 2 cups of confectioner's sugar, beat on medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened. Gradually add in the remaining sugar, one cup at a time. You may need more or less depending on how soft the butter is. Beat on medium-low speed until the sugar is moistened. Turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the pistachio paste and food coloring. Mix until well combined.

Assemble the cake

  1. Place one cake layer onto a serving platter. Add a generous amount of frosting and spread it to the edge with a spatula. Repeat with a second cake layer, topping it with a generous amount of frosting. Add the third cake layer and cover the top and sides of the cake with frosting. Press chopped pistachios into the sides of the cake near the bottom and coming up less than halfway. Sprinkle pistachios over the outer edge on top of the cake creating a 1-inch border. Set the cake in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Make the ganache

  1. Place the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Spoon the ganache over the top of the cake in the center of the pistachio border. Use the back of the spoon to create a smooth layer of ganache. Set the cake back into the freezer for 10 minutes.

Notes

  1. You can use dry roasted or raw pistachios. The roasted pistachios will have a stronger flavor.

Make ahead tip

  1. Once the cake has been assembled, it will stay fresh for up to 3 days at room temperature or up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
  2. The frosted cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature just before serving. 
  3. Wrap baked and cooled cake layers tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator. The frosting can be prepared, covered, and refrigerated overnight. Assemble and frost the cake within 2 days.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 758Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 333mgCarbohydrates: 114gFiber: 3gSugar: 99gProtein: 6g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

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Joyce C

Tuesday 10th of August 2021

This recipe looks delicious, and I’m looking forward to trying it!!! However, I just want to be sure I’m reading this correctly - the pistachios need to blend in the food processor for 25-30 minutes? Thanks!

Jen Sobjack

Wednesday 11th of August 2021

Process the pistachios until smooth and creamy. This can take a while depending on your blender.

Juee Vadke

Tuesday 3rd of August 2021

Hi. I would love to bake this cake. Is it a good combination to make a vanilla cake with pistachio flavor instead of chocolate cake?

Jen Sobjack

Wednesday 4th of August 2021

Yes, vanilla cake with pistachio will go well together.

Farhana

Saturday 22nd of May 2021

I would like to make this cake for a lunch/dinner party. How many days in advance can I make this cake and still have it to taste fresh? If you could provide any tips regarding that, that would be great!

Jen Sobjack

Monday 24th of May 2021

Once the cake has been assembled, it will stay fresh for up to 3 days at room temperature or up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Jessica Ritchey

Sunday 4th of April 2021

This is a beautiful and tasty cake. Made it for Easter and was quite loved by all. Thank you!

Sarah

Tuesday 9th of March 2021

The cake recipe calls for melted butter instead of softened. Is this right?

Jen Sobjack

Wednesday 10th of March 2021

Yes, this is right.

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