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If you love dense, buttery cakes with lots of flavor, this rich cannoli pound cake from Stellina Sweets is definitely gonna make it on your hit list. The cake will rise tall with a lovely cracked top if you bake it in a narrow loaf pan so be sure you do just that. The combination of pistachios, chocolate, citrus zest and ricotta cheese may take you a while to get there, especially if you are using raw unshelled pistachios as it might take well over an hour to shell, chop and roast before you can add them to the batter.

I dare say that you will be nicely rewarded for every ounce of hard work you put in as the finished cake tastes amazing and smells heavenly. Since I’m not familiar with the famous Italian cannoli – a deep fried, crisp cylindrical shell, filled with sweetened ricotta with the ends dipped in a mixture of chocolate and pistachios, which I hope to try at some point –  I cannot honestly say whether the pound cake version matches up to the authentic stuff but I would urge all of you to go ahead and make it anyway so that you can be your own judge.

CANNOLI POUND CAKE

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour

1 cup (170 grams) mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup (60 grams) pistachios, chopped small

1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup olive oil or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon sweet marsala wine

1 cup (250 grams) whole-milk ricotta cheese

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 or 2 pinches allspice

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Method:

  • Place rack in the center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spray a 8 x 4½” pan with nonstick cooking spray.

  • Line the pan with parchment paper, such that it overhangs on the long sides, and spray the parchment.

  • Whisk together the flour, chocolate chips, and chopped pistachios in a medium bowl and set this aside.

  • Combine sugar and orange & lemon zests in a bowl and rub zest thoroughly into the sugar using fingers.

  • The mixture will be fluffy and citrus-scented and flecked throughout with bits of orange and yellow zest.

  • Add the olive oil, marsala, ricotta cheese, and eggs; whisk to combine into a fairly homogenous mixture.

  • Sprinkle baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice on top, and whisk to combine everything together.

  • Use a spatula to gently fold the flour/chocolate/pistachio mixture into wet ingredients until just blended.

  • Scrape batter into pan. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  • Transfer it to wire rack and cool cake in the pan for about 15 minutes. Pull parchment up and out of pan.

  • Let cake cool to room temperature on the rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired for a festive look.

  • The cake will keep for at least 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes 10-12 servings.

Cannoli Pound Cake

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The annual Jour du Macaron is celebrated today in many celebre pâtisseries in Paris and around the world, all members of Relais Desserts. Launched in 2005 by The Picasso of Pastry, Pierre HerméLe Jour du Macaron is a charitable event to help the association, Vaincre la Mucoviscidose raise funds to fight against Cystic Fibrosis, a life-threatening, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and progressively limits the ability to breathe.

In keeping with the spirit of the celebration, I decided to try a tentative hand at making French Macarons from my new book, Mad about Macarons by Jill Colonna. Through her beautifully illustration publication, she guides you through the many technical aspects of getting those whimsical meringue-like cookies right. To my great delight, my pistachio macarons did grow ‘feet’ and develop light, airy shells but I still need practice to make them picture-perfect.

PISTACHIO MACARONS

Ingredients:

For the Macarons

150g egg whites

100g fine caster sugar

180g ground almonds

270g icing sugar

Green food coloring

For the Chocolate Ganache

200g dark chocolate

190g whipping cream

30g ground pistachios

50g unsalted butter

Method:

  • Line baking sheets with perfectly flat baking parchment and set aside. Bring egg whites to room temperature.
  • Whisk to glossy firm peaks, adding caster sugar gradually. Make sure that bowl and whisk are perfectly clean.

  • Add a dash of green food coloring toward the end of mixing. Sift the ground almond and icing sugar together.
  • Use a medium sieve, discard any large, coarse pieces of ground almonds. Mix it well to incorporate the sugar.

  • Incorporate the beaten egg whites into the dry ingredients using a large spatula and mix well. Do not fold in.
  • Work on mixture using plastic scraper, press down well going back and forward to press out air from whites.

  • Do this for no more than 5 minutes until mixture is smooth so that it reaches the soft, brilliant ‘ribbon’ stage.
  • Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Pipe out desired size of rounds, leaving space in between.

  • Leave for about 30 minutes to set. Preheat oven to 160 oC/ 325 oF and place baking tray in the oven centre.
  • Bake the macarons for about 10-12 minutes, test them after 8 minutes by touching the surface with a finger.

  • Leave on the tray to cool, then scrape them off carefully with a palette knife. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.
  • For the ganache, break the chocolate into small pieces into a bowl. In a saucepan, bring cream near boiling.

  • Add ground pistachios, mix well and then pour over chocolate. Stir constantly till smooth, then add butter.
  • Stir well until ganache is glossy and leave to cool slightly before spooning the filling into a large piping bag.

  • Pair up the macaron shells, one row flat side up and one row flat side down. Pipe filling on upturned shells.
  • Place remaining shells over the filled ones, using a circular motion to squash it down. Makes 20 macarons.

Pistachio Macarons & Chocolate Ganache

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