Petite Pistachio Flavor: Pistachio Petit-Four Cake

For my cousin Cindy's birthday this year, I decided to make Alisa Huntsman's Pistachio Petit-Four Cake. Cindy loves pistachios (which is why she got an Aunt Sassy Cake last year). This dessert consists of pistachio cake layered with apricot jam, marzipan, and chocolate ganache. It might look complicated, but it's really no more difficult than your typical layer cake.

This is a high-ratio cake, where the weight of the sugar exceeds the weight of the flour. So it's mixed with the high-ratio method: you put all of the dry ingredients (ground pistachios, sugar, cake flour, baking powder, and salt) in the mixer bowl first, and then incorporate the softened butter and liquid ingredients (milk, vanilla, and eggs) in several additions. You pour the batter into three 8-inch pans and bake.

After the cakes are cool, you assemble the cake by spreading apricot jam on one layer, followed by a circle of marzipan rolled and cut to fit the cake, followed by chocolate ganache. You follow with the other cake layers, more jam, more marzipan, and more ganache. Finally, you cover the entire cake in ganache and garnish the cake with marzipan roses and chopped pistachios. The recipe includes instructions to make your own marzipan, but I used two tubes (14 ounces total) of Odense from the store instead. The roses were surprisingly easy to make.

I delivered the cake to Cindy's office on her birthday, and I had the opportunity to taste a slice. It was good, but not great. I had leveled the cake layers before assembling the cakes, and when I tasted the cake trimmings, I thought they were outstanding. The cake was sweet and moist and had a beautiful pistachio flavor. But in the finished cake, the chocolate ganache drowned out the flavor of the pistachios. And I wished that I had used more marzipan, because the circle of marzipan on top of each cake layer was quite thin, and the marzipan flavor was pretty subtle.

Cindy and I both agreed that the Aunt Sassy Cake does a much better job of showcasing pistachios. For that reason, I like the Aunt Sassy Cake better. But this pistachio cake is so good that I might make it again, but probably just with buttercream instead of the chocolate ganache. And the pretty marzipan roses are so easy that I'm sure I will find many more uses for them in the future! 

Recipe: "Pistachio Petit-Four Cake" from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman, recipe available here at Leite's Culinaria.

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Louise said…
Even if it's not your favorite, that's a beautiful cake. I'll have to try the marzipan flowers.