Pistachio Torte

Pistachio Torte / Chez Panisse Desserts
Recipe: Pistachio Torte from Chez Panisse Desserts

Chris' usual birthday choice is carrot cake. He was that weird kid who requested carrot cake at his birthday party - he was usually the only one who ever ate it. But this year, I handed him Chez Panisse Desserts and (a little nervous), told him to pick any recipe he wanted. He handed me this one for Pistachio Torte and asked if it was too complicated. I skimmed it and bluffed, "I said any recipe, didn't I?" What I was thinking: um, there is no flour in this. Um, there is no butter. Is it a souffle? Is it a cake? There are a lot of words in this recipe! WHAT IS IT? CPD of course doesn't have pictures, just the occasional whimsical illustration.


Turns out, it really is a cake. Chris has asked me to analyze the chemistry of making it, yeah right. But one can only assume that the ground nuts act enough like flour.

Pistachio Torte

One chemistry note I *do* understand: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS RECIPE ON A RAINY DAY if you can help it. There are a lot of egg whites to be beaten, and they just would not get to stiff peaks. Too much water in the air, I guess. The torte still turned out relatively light, but I imagine if you had really stiff egg whites it would be even lighter.

Pistachio Torte / Chez Panisse Desserts

So how'd it turn out? Perfect for Chris! It's too nutty for my kind of dessert, really, but pistachio fans will love this. The flavors here are nuanced and balanced - cherry brandy, orange peel, and the apricot jam glaze that makes the pistachio topping stick, but everything works together.

Pistachio Torte / Chez Panisse Desserts

Best of all for some of you - it's a gluten-free cake! There is the option of grinding the nuts with flour just to keep them from getting nut-buttery, but apparently you do not need this if you have the right kind of grinder.

Posted by jess at May 17, 2008 9:37 AM | TrackBack

Oh wow it looks like you did a fantastic job. The pansies are a really sweet touch.

Posted by: Whistlepea at May 17, 2008 10:00 AM

It must be a month for pistachio - I made a pistachio cake last night, myself. I think I'd love to try that book, though - this looks a lot more refined than what I made.

Posted by: Hannah at May 17, 2008 10:17 AM

That looks amazing! I just ordered that book from the library - thanks for providing the pictures. (Sometimes just relying on whimsical sketches is scary!)

Posted by: Kellie at May 17, 2008 10:57 AM

It looks like a really yummy cake! I'm always on the hunt for good GF recipes. As a celiac I always luck out when it comes to yummy desserts! Thanks for the post

Posted by: christina wall at May 17, 2008 11:49 AM

that looks so beautiful and tasty! i'm not sure, though, that i'd use a cookbook with only whimsical drawings.

Posted by: carrie m at May 17, 2008 5:20 PM

Love the way you garnished the torte! Looks delicious. I have a friend who always insists on carrot cake for her birthday, so Chris isn't alone!

Posted by: Lisa at May 17, 2008 5:38 PM

yum! looks so pretty too! and gluten free!

Posted by: carol at May 17, 2008 8:56 PM

So I'm just minding my own business going through my blogline subscriptions and instead of yarn or images you have FOOD. DESSERT. I am drooling over the keyboard. Yum.

Posted by: PainterWoman at May 17, 2008 9:44 PM

The torte looks incredible! I love the work-in-progress shots, and those pansies are the perfect spring detail. Nice job!

Posted by: Julie at May 18, 2008 9:37 AM

I come from a long line of pistachio lovers, so I am really intrigued by this cake! It also doesn't hurt that you garnished it with some cute little pansies. I'm going to have to check this out - thanks for sharing the tip!

Posted by: Christina at May 18, 2008 3:54 PM

The flowers are a perfect touch on a lovely cake!
My favorite cake when I was little was a flourless chocolate cake made with ground walnuts. It's strange, in France you can find ground nuts in the "cake" aisle, but that doesn't exist here :( My coffee bean grinder turns nuts to paste, as you mentioned...

Posted by: Veronique at May 18, 2008 10:37 PM

That cake is gorgeous! I love the purple flowers you put on top! What kind of flowers are they?

Posted by: Lindsey Godfrey at May 19, 2008 9:55 AM

That is just a beautiful dessert, and I'm so curious about how it tastes. I didn't know that there was a dessert cookbook from Chez Panisse. Looks great!

Posted by: lekkercraft at May 19, 2008 10:56 AM

oh my! this is perfection!

Posted by: lolly at May 19, 2008 4:56 PM

I agree with Lolly -- the prettiest cake I ever did see!

Posted by: Sarah at May 19, 2008 5:52 PM

what an amazing looking cake! and i bet it was tasty to boot :)

Posted by: gleek at May 20, 2008 3:51 PM

wow, that looks delicious! i love the violet garnish, too. :-)
so cute!

Posted by: jessi at May 21, 2008 4:51 PM

I want to eat it now now now now now.

Posted by: Mintyfresh at June 11, 2008 5:31 PM

All look yummy and make me hungry.

Posted by: hong at June 29, 2008 7:37 AM

Okay, now THAT is gorgeous. Well done. GREAT photography.

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