My heart beats so I can write. Feel pen against paper. It’s been so long. I feel the beckon, the seduction. Like the smell of warm pistachio cake rising from the oven. Nuts, vanilla, and a hint of cardamom. I’m not sure why I don’t give in. Sometimes it feels as though I would stop breathing if I couldn’t write. Yet I act indifferent, nonchalant.
It’s like cooking…I love to cook. It’s always calling me, and I don’t do it. I am so lazy.
Recently, I have been craving pistachio cake. I ate a green pistachio cake decorated with raspberries and whipped cream for breakfast in Baltimore. Before that, a pistachio macaroon cake at Laduree in Paris. Then, pistachio financiers at Eric Kayser. I remember how obsessed I got with pale green pistachio gelato in Italy – every gelateria, every day and often twice a day. We went to so many gelaterias, found off lists and recommendations. Come il Latte in Rome, the place off the main square in Bologna that served gelato pressed between two thin slices of cake, the shop near the mediaeval church in Bologna that had three different types of pistachio gelato, the chocolate store at the Spanish Steps where the owner told me how he had sourced his pistachios from Sicily – did I like the flavor? I know nothing about making pistachio anything. It’s about time to try.
I look through my cookbooks, nothing, and then I start searching online. I find a Saveur recipe that promises me Maison Kayser style mini pistachio financiers with egg whites only and I turn out a fluffy, nutty, green cake that is surprisingly good. Over the next two weeks I play with the recipe – two egg yolks, then four – all good. Vanilla, cardamom…it’s a lot of fun.
I go shopping for shelled pistachios – they are brown outside – but yield a vibrant crumbly green flour with an intense smell of pistachios when ground. The egg white batter of this cake does taste somewhat like melted pistachio gelato when the ground nuts are stirred in. The browned butter adds rich, buttery notes (ah what else could it be). I find myself adding vanilla each time, entirely optional, but I can’t seem to make any cake without a splash of vanilla. I like the use of half white and half brown sugar. Chopped pistachios on top for crunch and more color.
Such an easy recipe and such a pleasure to make.