Thursday, 8 March 2012

Pistachio Chocolate Ripple Cake - We Should Cocoa

Green is not a common natural colour for many baking ingredients. When you read that green and blue are two of the colours that are most likely to make people reject manufactured food, it's not surprising that there isn't much green around - apparently green and blue are associated with mould! So, when Chele at Chocolate Teapot set the theme of 'green' for this month's We Should Cocoa challenge, in honour of St Patrick's day on March 17th, there weren't going to be many options available to me. In the end, it came down to mint or pistachio. Whilst I love the mint and chocolate combination in confectionary, I'm not too keen on it in baking, for some reason. You are welcome to call me contrary!

So, the decision to use pistachio nuts was made for me. I don't often make big cakes for We Should Cocoa, but on this occasion I decided to adapt the Alice Medrich Ripple Cake recipe that I've used several times before. It's a well-textured pound cake which has proved quite versatile in the past. It almost always ripples prettily during baking without any help from me - the swirls in the layers occur during baking.

This time, as well as reducing the size of the cake by 20%, to better fit my bundt tin, I exchanged some of the flour for ground almonds, reduced the proportion of the chocolate ripple, and added chopped pistachios, chocolate nibs and a little green colouring to the cake batter.

The results were very pleasing, although reducing the proportion of the chocolate ripple cut down on the chocolate flavour a bit too much. I did it to make the cake look more green for the challenge, but I think if I make this again I will go back to the original larger chocolate layers. I have to confess that I had to edit the photos a little to try to make the cake look as green as it was in real life - you may call it cheating, but I blame the camera for not capturing the colour properly!

3 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons water

270g plain flour
50g ground almonds
scant 2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
320g caster sugar
200mls sunflower oil
4 cold eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200mls cold milk
50g chopped pistachio nuts
25g cocoa nibs
green food colouring

Preheat oven to 180C and prepare a 10-cup bundt tin.
In a small bowl, mix the first 3 ingredients to a smooth paste.
Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt, and whisk in the ground almonds to distribute evenly.
Beat the sugar, oil and vanilla extract until amalgamated.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, then continue beating with an electric whisk for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is pale and thick.
Reduce the speed of the whisk to slow and mix in the flour mixture and the milk in alternate portions, whisking only enough to incorporate the flour properly.
Weigh 300g of the batter into a small bowl and stir in the cocoa mixture.
Add green food colouring to the plain batter to taste, then stir in the nuts and cocoa nibs.
Layer the batters alternately in the bundt tin, 1/3 of each at a time, starting with the green batter.
Bake the cake for 60minutes, or until a test probe is clean, then cool in the tin for 15minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Dust heavily with icing sugar before serving.

We Should Cocoa is a monthly challenge co-hosted by Chele at Chocolate Teapot and Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog. Each month participants are given an ingredient (or method) which must be used in a chocolate product. The full rules are available here if you would like to join in.


Hannah said...

Yum, love the rippling effect!

Hazel - Chicken in a Cherry Sauce said...

Beautiful cake! I love the dusting of icing sugar and the addition of pistachios and chocolate nibs for a contrast in texture. Perfect coffee partner!

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

hoorah to you!... I have been wracking my brain thinking of something green... I think i've got it but it's hard to be sure... I guess I need to pop off and purchase a vat of green food colouring!

Chele said...

You are a genius! I would never have even thought of pistachio - but now you have reminded me I am kicking myself. Loving it, looks a lovely bake.

Foodycat said...

This looks so good! I love chocolate and pistachio together! And as you say, green really is a tricky one!

celia said...

Suelle, it is always a joy to see your magnificent marble cakes - this one looked particularly appealing with the green crumb! :)

C said...

I do love that cake - whenever you make it I always admire the marbling effect. Love your choice of green for the challenge - looks really effective.

Kit @ i-lostinausten said...

What a lovely cake & a great idea using pistachio! Love the greeny color , looks awesome & tasty too! Well done! :)

Jean said...

This cake looks spectacular!! What a great idea and luckily I got a ring cake mould for Christmas.....time to fish it out of the cupboard !!

Katie said...

That looks stunning. Love the swirls and the subtle green colour. The texture looks delicious. I really done use pistachios enough

Phil in the Kitchen said...

Lovely looking cake - great colours. I've never really thought about it before but I think I agree about mint and baking. I can't think of a single time when I've really enjoyed a cake with mint and I have tried a few. One day, if I can ever find the time, I might try to invent one that I really do like.

MissCakeBaker said...

This looks so great the colours are fab without the green being off putting. I've also made something with pistachios for this challenge but not a cake.

The KitchenMaid said...

Hi Suelle, this is such a beautiful looking cake, it really leapt out at me from the round-up. Just one question though, at the risk of sounding like a complete dunce, what are cocoa nibs (and what could I use instead? Nuts?)
Thanks so much,


Suelle said...

Hi Lucy - cocoa nibs are finely chopped cocoa beans. I think they must be roasted first. They are hard, so give a crunch to the texture, as well as a bitter chocolate flavour.

My daughter bought mine for me in London, otherwise I would need to use mail order to get them. A very dark (85%) chocolate, finely chopped, would be a good substitute. There are already nuts in the recipe to give a little crunch.

Joanna @ Zeb Bakes said...

what a pretty pretty cake! I might make it minty for him indoors and then I'd get brownie points all over again, though I think I would prefer your pistachio version as I love pistachios. Maybe I will make one of each... anyway beautiful , just beautiful!