Year of the Cake Part Thirty Two: White Chocolate, Pistachio and Coconut Cake

Oh my, I am ever so pleased with this cake. I think it’s the best-looking cake I’ve ever made – possibly the best tasting, too. I did once make a Baileys sponge, many years ago when I was a student and still starting to learn about baking, and having far more disasters than I do these days, and that was pretty delicious, but for one thing I’ve never reproduced it accurately, and for another the niceness of that cake is lost in the mists of time, while the niceness of this one is only from last night… The occasion was Miss L’s 40th, so we were having a party girls night with balloons, party poppers and more food than an army could consume in a month, let alone seven of us ladies. Still, we gave it a go.

I don’t have time to write very much today – I’m up early to get this posted because I know I’ve been a Bad Blogger and I’ve been missing being here, but haven’t really been cooking up much of a storm, and have been busy with this, that and the other (read: nothing really). The main event, as mentioned last time, was Children in Need, which proved to be a night of making new friends and looking at John Barrowman’s face from the side of the stage, in a state of weak-kneed-ness that really does defy explanation. I have it on the authority of his runner that he’s actually a nice man. This makes me feel happy.

Anyway I’ll fire up the recipe for this cake now, and load up a gallery of photos, and that will be that. I’d encourage you to try this one, really I would, because it’s quite something. Very filling though – I was ready for a sleep after my slice, which as you can see wasn’t immodest, just very rich and filling. Good with it, though…

Makes one eight inch cake:

  • 6oz butter
  • 4oz margarine
  • 8oz dark brown sugar
  • 170g white chocolate
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 8oz plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup ground pistachios

A note first of all on the pistachios. I bought a 200g bag of shelled pistachios, then deshelled them (of course – and is that a word?) and ground them with one of my trusty mini-blender’s mill attachments (bless it). This gave me one cup of ground pistachios. I’m mixing up my cups and grams – bad recipe form, I know, but hell, that’s how I roll.


  • Heat the oven to 170C and grease and flour an eight-inch round cake tin.
  • Using a hand held mixer (or stand mixer, if you’re lucky enough to have one), mix the butter and margarine until soft. Then add the brown sugar, and mix thoroughly, trying to get rid of any lumps. This will be easier if you pass the sugar through a sieve first. I did not, and it did take a long time to fish out and break up the biggest lumps. Smaller ones aren’t an issue, because they just melt down when the cake bakes and you don’t really notice them, or if you do it’s in a good way.
  • Once the butter, marg and sugar are mixed, melt the white chocolate, mix with the milk and zizz that in too. I was going to say whisk but then that sounded like I meant with an actual hand whisk, when really I mean with the mixer. I decided to use the word zizz to describe what I meant, but then that required this big long explanation, but I’m leaving it in anyway. Zizz is kind of more of a blender noise, like if you were making soup you’d zizz it… Well anyway, use the hand mixer.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, combining thoroughly. You’ll find at this point that the mix is a bit wrong looking. Like putty. It all moves around the bowl as one sticky mass, perhaps reminding you of a horror film half glimpsed on a late Wednesday night. Don’t be afraid – this is OK. We’re going to add some other ingredients now.
  • Add the pistachios, flour and baking powder to the self-aware mass of cake mix in the bowl. This will disarm it. Fold in as best you can, but don’t overwork the mix – stop as soon as you can’t see any dry flour in the bowl.
  • Tip into the cake tin, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 150C and bake for a further 20. Do not open the oven door unless the cake looks like it’s about to go on fire. It is dark in colour because of the dark sugar, so don’t be fooled. I opened the oven, and the cake sank in the middle. It wasn’t a disaster by any means, but I would have preferred it not to, you know?

For the coconut cream cheese filling and frosting:

  • 125g butter, at room temperature
  • 125g cream cheese, cold
  • 400g icing sugar, temperature unimportant
  • 100g sweetened, flaked coconut
  • pinch of sea salt

Combine the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Zizz it, if you like. Add the sugar in batches to avoid ending up looking like a sugary snowman, festive as that might be. Add the coconut and sugar and mix thoroughly. This gives a thick icing that isn’t too wet or sticky, and as such is a bit harder to spread, but I had one hour to ice and decorate the cake, so I wanted something that didn’t need time to set. It also made too much for the cake, but it’s best to have some backup icing in case there is an icing emergency.


  • 1/2 cup ground pistachios
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Toast the coconut in a frying pan – put the pan over a high heat, and tip in the coconut. You’ll start to smell it toasting, and when you do, be sure to keep stirring, turning and otherwise moving it around. If you have an electric hob, like me, it’s worth turning the heat right down when you start to see the coconut colouring, to avoid burning it; the residual heat will continue to work on the coconut even after you take the pan off the hob. Once it’s toasted, mix it well with the pistachios. This was also too much – probably half the amount would have done. That said, I think I can use the mix for chocolates or another cake; I’ve put it in the freezer, along with the leftover icing.

Details on assembly to follow, have run out of time!


About Rock Salt

Seasoning while rocking out since 1983. View all posts by Rock Salt

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