pistachio petit-four cake

© Nick Loven

On Saturdays and Sundays, Nick and I typically spend the mornings fighting the aphid population on the pepper plants in the greenhouse on our allotment, and trying to mouse-proof the very same greenhouse. So far, on both counts, we've failed. One thing we've finally learned though, is that after a morning at the allotment, a mug of coffee (tea in Nick's case) and slice of cake is even more welcome than normal, though it's kind of embarrassing to admit that it's taken me this long to figure out that this means that baking needs to happen on Friday night, otherwise it's a trip to Earlsdon Co-Op, and nice though Co-Op cakes are, they're no match for home-made beauties. So on Friday I hunted down a couple of mouth-watering recipes and ruthlessly cut them down to one - THE one, THE cake of this weekend, and THE one I absolutely wanted to make. Pistachio petit-four cake, from Sky High, via Smitten Kitchen, with a pistachio sponge layered with apricot conserve, marzipan and dark chocolate ganache, and topped with more of the very same. Yummy sounding and nothing to do with it being the only one I had all the ingredients for, honest. 

I was SO looking forward to this cake, I love pistachios and marzipan. Based on comments on Smitten Kitchen I decreased the ganache amount and used a combination of 70% chocolate and plain chocolate, and made a top-coat for a smooth finish, using a white chocolate ganache, to lighten the flavour contribution from the chocolate. And actually, despite my worry that the chocolate would still be too rich and overpower the pistachio-marzipan combination, it really paired very well with the sponge, and added a satisfying stickiness to the final slice. And this cake gets better with age, if it lasts that long...

© Nick Loven
If there was one improvement I could make, I think that next time I'll substitute the ganache filling/topping for a buttercream, laced with ginger syrup, to lighten and sharpen the overall texture and flavour. It's a personal choice though as I've never been a massive fan of ganache, but I'll see whether Nick's "Mmmmm, mmnice" expert judgement goes up a rank or two with the buttercream substitution before deciding which version makes it into my repertoire (though who am I kidding, if I prefer the buttercream, it's going in).

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