Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Pistachio Chocolate Cake with whipped ganache frosting

Last week, I attended the Bristol branch of the Clandestine Cake Club. A friend introduced me to this group in February, and I loved the simplicity of the idea behind the group: People who love cake come together to share a cake they have baked within a particular theme. The venue of the club changes each time, and is kept a secret until the week before the meeting, hence the 'Clandestine' element.
This month's theme for our group was to use up ingredients left in your cupboard. When I opened my cupboard, the first thing that caught my eye was a bag of pistachios that have been sat there for almost two months, waiting for me to have a moment of inspiration for a recipe that would use them. I turned to Harry Eastwood's book, Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache in the hope of finding a healthy cake recipe that would make a dent in my pistachio supply, and within a few seconds, I found her recipe for Pistachio Chocolate Cake. Perfect. These days, decisions about baking have to be made swiftly. I don't feel like I have the luxury of time to peruse my library of recipe books for inspiration, and so I was delighted to find a recipe that I liked the look and sound of so quickly.
I adapted the recipe slightly, as I didn't have the exact same sugars and flours that Harry Eastwood suggested, and in an effort to save money and stick to the theme of the Cake Club, I just used what I had. I also made a different frosting, as the idea for whipped chocolate ganache popped into my head, and was preferable over the alternative that Harry suggested. It turned out beautifully.
The reason for whipping the ganache is to change the texture of it by adding air. Regular ganache would also be delicious with this, but I love the texture of whipped ganache, and I have found that by adding air, the richness of the dark chocolate is somehow lessened. There are a few of added bonuses that make this cake even more brilliant than your regular chocolate cake recipe:
1) It contains no fat.
2) It's gluten free.
3) It has 2 courgettes in it, so it is practically healthy!

ingredients
100g ground pistachios + an extra handful of roughly chopped pistachios for decoration
300g finely grated courgettes (2 medium sized courgettes)
3 eggs
40g light brown muscovado sugar
130g light brown sugar *
120g rice flour or plain flour
60g cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
*alternatively, use 170g of light brown sugar / muscovado sugar

ganache
250ml double (heavy) cream
200g dark or milk chocolate

method
1) Pre-heat oven to 180C / gas mark 4 / 350F.
2) Line two 8" round tins with greaseproof paper, and brush a bit of vegetable oil all over them.
3) Shell the pistachios and blitz in a food processor until they are finely ground. It is important to grind them as finely as possible. If you don't have a processor, I am pretty sure you can buy ground pistachios from the supermarket or health food shops.
4) Whisk the eggs and sugar(s) for two minutes until pale.
5) Mix in the courgettes & ground pistachios with the eggs and sugar.
6) Stir in the cocoa, flour and baking powder, making sure everything is combined thoroughly.
7) Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for 30 minutes. Leave in the tins to cool for about ten mins, then remove from tins to cool completely on a wire rack.
8) Once you have made the ganache, slather one of the cakes with a hearty amount of it, then sprinkle with half of the roughly chopped pistachios. Place the second cake on top of the one you have just iced, and repeat this process of layering with ganache and pistachios.

for the icing
1) Finely chop the chocolate.
2) Heat the cream in a saucepan over a low heat until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges. (Don't let it boil.)
3) Remove from the heat then stir in the chocolate to the cream, using a heatproof spatula, until all of the chocolate is melted.**
4) Place pan in the fridge to cool for around 30 minutes, or just until it has stiffened slightly.
5) Remove from fridge and whip for a couple of minutes using electric beaters. Once you have reached the desired consistency, stop whipping! (There's a small chance I did a taste test or two to check the consistency...)

**If you find that the chocolate doesn't fully melt after a couple of minutes of gentle stirring, transfer the ganache to a glass bowl, then place over a pan of simmering water and stir. Just a bit of extra heat will help the chocolate to fully melt.

P.S Just in case you'd like a little look at the lengths I go to to take photos of food with a baby in tow who doesn't like to sleep much during the day, here you go:

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