THE CAKE SLICE bakers used marzipan, apricot preserves and a dark chocolate glaze to turn a pistachio butter cake into an irresistible dessert reminiscent of European petit fours glaces.
Pistachio Petit Four Cake
From: Sky-High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
By: Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne
Makes an 8 inch triple layer cake; serves 12 to 16
¾ cup skinned pistachio nuts
1 & 2/3 cups sugar
2 cups cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup apricot preserves
Marzipan (recipe follows)
Dark chocolate glaze (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 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.
Spread out the pistachios on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a dish and let cool completely. Finely chop the pistachios and set ¼ cup aside for decoration.
Put the remaining ½ cup pistachios in a food processor. Add the sugar and pulse just enough to grind them finely. 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. 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.
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.
8 ounces almond paste
1 ½ cups confectioners sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
Crumble the almond paste into a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on low speed to soften the almond paste. (I found it much easier to use a fork to mash the almond paste to soften it. My mixer kept throwing chunks of almond paste out of the bowl and into the dining room.) 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.
Dark Ganache Glaze
1 pound extra bittersweet chocolate
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
Chop the chocolate coarsely and put it in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a bare simmer. Pour immediately over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth and use the glaze soon after making before it starts to set. Allow to cool and thicken slightly before use.
Roll out a third of the marzipan on a work surface dusted with a little confectioners sugar to about 1/8th inch thick. (It will take more than a little confectioners sugar to be able to work with the marzipan. I took a gallon size freezer bag and cut up the sides and rolled the marzipan out between the plastic. Regular plastic wrap was just not working for me as it would not allow me to “control” the marzipan. Just remember to brush any excess sugar off of the marzipan rounds before you place them on the cake.) 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 twice more with the remaining marzipan. Save your scraps to make roses for decoration if desired. (I ended up with enough “scraps” to make 2 roses … or what I called roses! I have yet to acquire the skills necessary to produce marzipan flowers. I watch Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss … you’d think I would have it down pat by now!)
Place one cake layer on a cake board, flat side up. Spread ¼ cup of the apricot preserves evenly over the top, leaving a ¼ inch margin all round to allow for spreading. Place one marzipan round on top of the preserves and spread 1/3 cup ganache glaze over the top of the marzipan so that it is completely covered. Repeat with the second cake layer, adding more preserves, marzipan and glaze.
Add the final cake layer and top with preserves and marzipan as before. Place the whole cake on a wire rack set over a baking pan. Pour the remaining dark ganache glaze over the cake, spreading it as evenly as possible over the top and sides of the cake. Allow the ganache to set before transferring to a plate. It should be smooth and glossy.
Garnish the top with the reserves chopped pistachios.
DEBBIE’S “TAKE ON THE CAKE”: The cake itself was a tad dry. I am not sure if it is from the finely ground pistachio nuts that went in the batter or if I baked it a few minutes too long. Marzipan in between each layer and on the top of the cake was way too much for my taste. Next time I would use the preserves and the chocolate between each layer (might be a little tricky) and the preserves and marzipan on the top of the cake.