It’s been a while since I made a cake or any other kind of dessert, and I just felt like making a cake today, even though it was yet another hot day. I found this exotic cake recipe that called for pistachios, chocolate and cardamom and it just sounded to good to pass up. Cardamom is a spice I really don’t use a lot of unless I am doing an Indian dish, so it was kind of a pleasant treat to use it in a cake today.
Cardamom and cloves are ancient spices dating back to the days of the ancient spice trades. Cardamom is a spice that is native to the Western Ghat forest of the Malabar Coast in India. It grew alongside the peppercorns. Peppercorns at that time were known as the “king of spices” and cardamom was known as the “queen” of spices. These spices, along with many others, were brought to South Asia via Babylon, by the Arab traders, and from there, they traveled to Egypt, Greece and Rome. Though cardamom was very popular in Asia, it did not take off so well in Europe at first. For centuries, cardamom grew wild and it was not grown on plantations until the British established them in India in the early 1800’s, which could explain why they were not so popular in Europe at the time. This being said though, cardamom was very popular in the Scandinavian countries by as early as the 9th century. The Scandinavian counties are still among the top consumers of cardamom today too.
Cardamom is the fruit from the perennial bush Eletteria cardamomun, which is actually a member of the ginger family. Before the British started cultivating cardamom a little over 200 years ago, it was all gathered from wild bushes. Today is is mostly harvested in both India and Guatemala.
Pistachio and Chocolate Butter Cake
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cup flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup of pistachio paste – if you can not find it, no worries, it is very easy to make. It is pistachios with about 1/4 cup of sugar and about 1 TBSP of milk. Pulse everything together in a food processor until it forms a thick paste.
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup pistachios, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350* F or 180* C
Spray a 9″ springform with cooking spray and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
Mix the butter and the sugar together for about 3-4 minutes until it is light and fluffy, then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well in between. Then mix in the pistachio paste.
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Once the eggs, butter, sugar and pistachio paste is mixed, add the flour mixture and milk, alternating, adding about 1/2 of each and mixing. Mix until everything is well blended.
Fold in the chocolate chips.
Spread the cake batter evenly into the prepared cake pan, then top with the chopped pistachios.
Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until the cake is done and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely before removing from the pan and cutting. Dust with powdered sugar before cutting. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream on the side. Delicious! The cardamon gives this cake a little hint of a pepper, which makes it a little exotic. It is not what you expect from a dessert, but is definitely an interesting treat for the taste buds.