Sunday, 21 October 2018

Cardamom, Coconut, Pistachio and Rose Cake

Cardamom, Coconut, Pistachio and Rose Cake

This one is gorgeous, and easier than you might think.  (Some cheating will take place.)  Boxed cake mixes are easy to work with, because they pretty much always turn out well, and it’s easy to doctor them up to create a unique and delicious cake.

This cake served as a triple birthday cake, and after six of us sat down to it, and several of us had seconds, we still have quite a bit left over.  Yum.  It takes a little longer to prepare than if you were to follow the box’s directions, but it won’t be terribly labour intensive either.

The cake

1 box of good white cake mix  
Use the canned coconut milk, not the beverage!
1 can coconut milk (not the milk substitute in a carton, but actual thick coconut milk)
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon good coconut oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon real vanilla
5 green cardamom pods, husked and ground to powder
1 cup shelled pistachios, ground to a powder

My cakes, when made from scratch, have a strange texture and often taste of raw flour, so I rely on mixes I can doctor up.  It’s so much easier, and the results are always good. 

Follow the directions on the box, more or less.  Grease the tins, using the teaspoon of coconut oil.  If it seems like too much, put the extra into the mixing bowl.  Heat the oven, pour the contents of the pouch into a large mixing bowl.  Instead of water or milk, use the canned coconut milk, in the amounts stated on the  cake mix box.  (You can freeze the left over coconut milk.)  Because this kind of coconut milk is already heavy in fat, cut back on the amount of oil, and instead use just a tablespoon of high quality coconut oil.  The good stuff smells so good you’ll want to rub it all over yourself.

My mix’s instructions called for 3 eggs, so that’s what I added, along with vanilla and cardamom powder.  I turned the mixer onto ‘slow’ and blended the ingredients for about 30 seconds.  I moved the batter around with a spatula to make sure it was truly well blended.  Then I moved on to ‘medium’, and kept the machine on nearly as long as the instructions said.  Toward the end of the beating time, I tipped the ground pistachios into the batter and continued to beat.  Once blended, I stirred it around with a spatula just to make sure everything was well combined.

Pour the batter into the pans, and bake as per instructions on the box.

Once the cakes are made and completely cooled, it’s time for the frosting.  The original recipe comes from the old Better Homes New Cook Book, but with some creative flourishes.

The frosting

2 egg whites (save the yolks for something else)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
3 green cardamom pods, husked and ground to a powder 
Just a drop for colour and a hint of pistachio!
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon rosewater (to taste)
1 drop Pista essence (optional)
¼ cup shelled pistachios, chopped
1 teaspoon dried rose petals 

Put the egg whites into the very clean whipping bowl.  Any oil will ruin this recipe, so make sure the bowl is clean, the beater is clean and no yolk gets into the whites.  Make sure your whipping bowl is very near your stove.

Tip the sugar into a saucepan, along with the water and ground cardamom and cream of tartar.  Put the heat on medium and stir the solution till sugar dissolves. Let it come to a boil.  As it starts to boil, start whipping the egg whites on ‘high’ speed.  Once they are frothy, slowly pour a thin stream of the very hot sugar water into the mixing boil, with the machine still on high speed.  Slowly pour all the sugar water into the eggs, then just leave the machine running. The sugar water will cook the egg whites evenly, if poured slowly in a thin stream.

After about seven minutes, the egg whites will be fluffy and puffy, quite gorgeous.  Keeping the machine on high speed, add the vanilla, then an eighth of a spoon of rose water.  Taste.  Add more if you like.  Some people find that too much tastes like soap, but me, I love it.

I lost my nerve with the Pista essence, because I tasted it straight out of the bottle, and nearly died.  However, I could have added one tiny drop, and it would have been charming, tinting the frosting a very pale green, and adding just a touch of pistachio flavour.  Next time, I will try not chugging it out of the bottle, and will instead use just a drop, I promise.

Place one layer of cake on the serving platter, and spread lots of frosting, being very generous.  Once you place the second layer atop the first, extra frosting will goo out the sides, which will help you to cover the sides.  Slather all the frosting over the cake, letting the knife make relaxed swirls.

Finally, sprinkle the chopped pistachios on top, and flutter a few rose petals for good measure.

Dried Rose Petals are available in Indian groceries, as is the Pista essence.

We served this with vanilla ice cream, after lighting the candles and singing the sacred song.  This flavour combination is heavenly.  We swooned.

Swoon time!

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