If you asked me about cake fails, the first one that comes to mind would be the first chocolate cake I ever made where everything that could have gone wrong pretty much did. We all have to start from somewhere don’t we?.
The second, more recent, one that comes to mind would be my first attempt at the pistachio mousse cake. Sure I’ve burnt a fair amount of cakes and cookies, curdled more custards than I should, made some very odd shaped cakes here and there and regularly bake things that go straight into the bin. But nothing is quite as memorable as the impressive looking, perfectly moulded pistachio mousse cake that five minutes after removing the mould, slowly drooped into a puddle of pudding. It was my first time using sheet gelatin you see- and I’d heated it too much so that it no longer set the mousse like it was supposed to.
But I take every failure as a learning experience, and if anything, at least overheating gelatine leaves is a mistake I’ll be repeating again anytime soon and the one thing I made sure not to do on my second attempt at this cake. Mind you, I was still pretty nervous when I unmoulded the cake this time around!
Pistachio is one of my favourite flavours, so pistachio themed desserts have always been on my list of things to make though I’ve shied away from it because pistachio paste is so difficult to find, and my blender has never been any good at making nut butters.
But it turns out making a pistachio paste that isn’t as smooth as it should be still works- even if the paste doesn’t look quite right, once you mix it into the custard batter, it looks fine and tastes amazing!
Ice cream was the first dessert on my mind when it came to pistachio but I couldn’t resist making this cake after seeing it in one of my Asian cookbooks. The book features a selection of recipes from pastry chefs in Japan, and this particular recipe comes from a Patisserie La Page . The original is a much fancier single serve cake but I didn’t have the equipment nor the skill to replicate it so I did my own thing.
The cake is made on a base of almond biscuit, with a layer of pistachio pudding within the mousse. I’m sure the original version uses food colouring because my pistachio pudding and mousse looked nothing like the pictures. The original version also has a second almond base layer as well as a sprinkle of green icing sugar or something but I couldn’t figure out what it was since the recipe was in Chinese so I omitted them. And because of my limited ability to read Chinese, I also made up the instructions myself so I can’t guarantee they are correct.
But even if the method I used wasn’t 100% correct, it was probably pretty close as it did make an amazing tasting cake. If I had a better blender, it’d probably be a little smoother, but otherwise the mousse had a nice fragrant pistachio taste, without being overly sweet.
Definitely one of my favourite recipes at the moment- well worth the effort, even if it me two attempts to get it right!
Pistachio Mousse Cake
Recipe from Chef Hajime Matsui of Patisserie La Page
The original recipe makes 36 individual serve cakes. I used one fifth of the recipe to make a 15cm round cake.
275g Sliced Almonds
400g Egg Whites
120g Caster Sugar
300g Almond Meal
180g Caster Sugar
50g Plain Flour
1. Roast the sliced almonds and sprinkle over baking tray
2. Whip egg whites and 120g of sugar to soft peaks
3. Sift almond meal, sugar and flour together and fold into the egg white mixture
4. Spread the mixture over the sliced almonds to make a thin layer
230g egg yolk
230g Caster Sugar
1020g Cream (I used thickened)
14g Gelatine leaves
50g Pistachio Paste (I made my own)
1. Mix all ingredients except the gelatine and pistachio paste
2. Bake at 130degC for 30 minutes (I heated the mixture on the stovetop until thickened)
3. Soak sheets of gelatin in a bowl of cold/iced water for 5 to 10 minutes, remove and wring gently to remove excess water.
4. Add the gelatine leaves and pistachio paste to the warm mixture, pour into mould and set in the fridge. (Because I was making mine in a round pan, I set mine in a round baking tray that was smaller than the diameter of my cake ring)
125g Pistachio Paste
250g Roasted Pistachio Paste
50g Gelatine leaves
2320g White Chocolate
125g Liquer of your choice
2500g Cream (I used thickened)
1. Heat milk, pistachio paste, roasted paste and white chocolate until white chocolate has melted.
2. Soak gelatin leaves in a bowl of cold/iced water for 5 to 10 minutes, remove and wring gently to remove excess water.Add to mixture then cool in fridge.
3. White cream and liquer until soft peaks form, then fold into cold pistachio mixture
1. Cut almond meringue to fit in the cake ring you are using (I used a 15cm one). PLace meringue at the bottom of the cake ring.
2. Top with around 1/3 of the pistachio mousse mixture. Place the pistachio jelly in the centre of the ring. Top with the remaining pistachio mousse mixture. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until the mousse has set sufficiently
3. To take the cake out of the ring, heat the outside of the ring either briefly with a blow torch or with a hot tea towel, then slip the ring off the cake. Transfer to a new plate and refrigerate for a while longer (optional) before decorating and presenting!