Courtni requested “something with pistachio”, so, hunting through cookbooks, I found a Pistachio Petit Four Cake in Sky High Cakes. So pretty! I doubted my ability to make it as pretty as the book depicted, (and I was right, so I hid the cookbook during the party. No comparisons allowed), but I decided to give it a go anyway. Courtni is quite special to us, so I wanted to make her a beautiful cake. I especially love that the picture above has a tiny bright rainbow in it from the afternoon sun.
My husband went to four different stores to find almond paste, but, wonderful man that he is, he found it eventually. He also bought me shelled pistachios, because I’ve shelled them myself before for a recipe, and life is too short. Actually, if I’d had the time, and not had a cold, I’d have tried shelling them because they do taste fresher that way. The recipe calls for toasting the shelled pistachios in the oven, but I skipped that part, because they were already dry roasted. I imagine the flavor would be really nice following the recipe more exactly. But it was good anyway!
Making the marzipan intimidated me, but it turned out to be not hard at all. Homemade marzipan tastes a whole lot better than the marzipan candies you can buy in Europe. I actually ate the marzipan and enjoyed it, which I have never said about marzipan previously. It does dry out very quickly, so keeping the pieces you aren’t working with covered in plastic wrap is vital. Once it starts cracking at the edges, don’t use water to smooth it out- it just makes it sort of shiny and disgusting looking. Dampening the pieces at the end where they need to stick together does help a bit, but don’t go overboard on the water. Warming the marzipan by rewrapping it in plastic and letting it sit at room temperature, then re-rolling it out, is what worked best for me. I did not add food coloring paste (because I didn’t have any on hand) but the natural marzipan color was pretty enough. The roses took several attempts to get the right petal thickness, and they still aren’t as pretty as the ones in book. Yes, this cake took some time, but it was fun to make!
This is a three-layer cake, with marzipan and the chocolate glaze (cream and dark chocolate) between each layer. The recipe calls for apricot preserves between each layer as well, below the layer of marzipan, but enough people I know are iffy about apricot that I omitted that step. It was very flavorful without the preserves, but I’d like to try it with them (perhaps a different fruit) the next time I make this cake.
Happy Birthday, Courtni!!