Chocolate Pistachio Cake

>> Saturday, July 19, 2008

Staying on the pistachio theme, I decided to make Nigella's Chocolate Pistachio Cake this afternoon while waiting for the painter to finish painting our feature wall (we chose a darkish pistachio coloured dulux paint this morning from the store. Coincidence!?) I don't think I can quite ever get sick of pistachios. It has such glorious taste and smell, and luckily there are at least a handful of recipes from 'How to be a domestic goddess' which use this type of nut.

For this recipe, I used d'Or 86% Cacao chocolate (with the elephant logo) instead of Lindt Excellence. I thought I'd use something different this time and d'Or seemed to be pretty popular in Belgium when I was there (the Belgians should know their chocolates right?) However I was not impressed. When the chocolate was starting to melt in the water bath, a layer of yellowish oil floated to the top...uggghhhh. I tried to spoon them out bit by bit and was glad that they were not going inside into my stomache and eventually onto my thighs.

There are no pictures for this recipe in the book so I was quite clueless as to what this cake should look like - round or square, thick or thin, crushed or flaky pistachios on top? I'm still a newbie when it comes to baking these type of cakes - anything other than banana or carrot cakes still puzzles me. Like I halved all the ingredients in the recipe so the serving size would be smaller (just enough for my family) so does that mean the baking time should also be halved? This may be plain common sense to some people, but obviously not for me. I think I may have underbaked my cake a bit.

All in all, the cake turned out alright. It wasn't that great, I probably wouldn't want to bake this again because I couldn't really taste the pistachio in the cake. This seems to me like a plain choc cake - and incredibly rich as well with the glazing on the top. I had two slices and couldn't handle it anymore and had to make myself some tea.

Oh, our feature wall probably turned out better than my cake though. The colour was a bit off at the beginning, but when the whole wall was completed, it made our living room look a whole lot more warm and inviting - and not like a hospital as before with the cold white wall. My next recipe is likely to be something savoury. No more chocolate - at least for the next month or so.


Pistachio Macarons

>> Friday, July 18, 2008

I've always been a fan of online shopping. I started purchasing things via the web during my exchange days in the U.S because most companies offer free shipping. I'd bought all my textbooks on eBay, Jenny's violin strings, pajamas from Gap, mum's Vileroy and Boch X'mas ornaments and even simple things like body wash which I could easily have bought from the store next door - all at the comfort of my room. The anticipation of something making its way to my mailbox makes each day a little bit more interesting I guess. I've hardly purchased anything since I've returned to Sydney, until a few months ago. The story is, An introduced the book 'Julie & Julia' to me. It's a story about a frustrated New Yorker with a thankless job (much like mine) attempting to cook through the famous Julia Child's cookbook with 500+ recipes in a year! I really like this concept, because I normally only pick recipes that are easy and familiar to me. So I found 2 books on Amazon with really good reviews and decided that I would try cooking through them. One of them is called 'The Best New Recipe', which An thinks resembles an encyclopaedia, with 1000+ recipes, and the other is Nigella's 'How to be a domestic Goddess'. I'm quite a fan of Nigella. Reading through her cookbook is like reading an actual book. She describes things like none others - e.g. 'fold the egg whites purposefully'. So my books arrived the day after my birthday and the first recipe I decided to tackle was Nigella's Molten Choc Babycakes. It turned out really well, except the fact that I had to use a whole block of Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa for 5 small cupcakes kind of worried me. I didn't take any photos so I will probably have to make it again someday :) Last Saturday, I made Nigella's Pistachio Macarons. I'm a huge fan of macarons, especially after my trip to Europe where I tried some of the best macarons in my life. I'm also a fan of pistachio flavoured gelato. Now, before this, I didn't know how expensive pistachios are until I got 1kg of it for $29.95 from Mr. Vitamins in Chatswood! They were the cheapest I could find. I guess pistachios are the king of all nuts then! My first attempt was rather dramatic - I made one fatal error (didn't beat the egg whites enough - Nigella said 'beat until very stiff', but I guess my stiff wasn't stiff enough) which gave me runny flat macarons. I was too discouraged that I didn't take any photos. In addition to this, I didn't have a piping bag (I visited Victoria's Basement during lunch break but they didn't have them!) so I used a small plastic bag instead and cut a little hole at the corner. I didn't tie up the bag properly, and when I squeezed on it, all the egg white/pistachio mixture came exploding out of the bag and onto my hand. "Jennnnnnyyy, HELLLLPPP...NOWWW", but she chose to ignore me while slowly putting the eggs away into the fridge. As a result, most of my mixture ended up all over my hand and counter and not on the tray. Well, as they say, practice makes perfect. The second time round my macarons actually look like macarons as you can see in the pics! They were a bit soft though. Nigella said to bake them for 10-12 minutes, but I'd say bake for 20 mins! Maybe my oven isn't hot enough. I had them as my midnight snack with a cup of Rooibus tea (caffeine free!) to end the day with.

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