Archives for posts with tag: snack

So, today is Easter Sunday and kids everywhere are waking up to baskets of chocolate eggs, Reese’s chocolate mini cups, and candy-coated chocolate eggs (could easily eat my weight in those things).  Sense a trend?  Much like Christmas, Easter seems to be overwhelmingly about chocolate.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Chocolate is all well and good – particularly if you’ve given it up for Lent.  But sometimes you just want something a little different.

And that’s this cake.

It’s a really nice, light, moist cake that is perfect for a mid-morning treat or dessert after a heavy dinner.  And the cardamom gives it a fabulous scent and such an interesting flavor that you’ll want to keep this in your repertoire!

I’ll tell you now that it might sound like it’s labor-intensive, but I promise you that it isn’t.  Get everything measured out and ready before you start and it all comes together very quickly.

Espresso, Cardamom and Pistachio Cake

  • 2/3 cup shelled pistachios, divided – half ground finely, half roughly chopped for the topping
  • Seeds from 24 cardamom pods, ground finely then divided in half
  • Just under 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 4 oz butter, room temperature
  • just under 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp instant espresso powder, divided
  • 8 1/2 oz mascarpone
  • 1-2 Tbsp milk

Okay, let’s start by getting everything prepped:  bash your cardamom pods and remove the seeds, grind them finely, then divide in half (you should have about 1/2 tsp each).  Then, grind 1/3 cup of the pistachios, then set aside with 1/2 tsp cardamom and 1 Tbsp instant espresso.  Finish prepping by preheating the oven to 350 and buttering and lining with parchment paper two 8″ round cake pans.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time and scrape down the sides to make sure that the mixture is smooth.  Add the ground pistachio mixture and mix to combine completely before adding the flour, stirring in by hand to make sure you don’t overbeat.

Divide the mixture into the two tins – it’s not going to look like a whole lot, so spread it out across the bottom – it’ll only be about 1/2″ batter in the bottom.  Bake for about 20 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, prepare the coffee syrup – in a small bowl, mix 1 Tbsp instant espresso with about 1/4 cup boiling water, 1 Tbsp sugar and the other half-teaspoon of the ground cardamom.  Stir well and let cool.

When the cake is finished baking, poke all over with a toothpick and drizzle in the syrup while still in the pans, then let cool.  (If you have a squeeze bottle, use that for the syrup to make sure that you get a nice, even drizzle.)

Make the frosting by mixing the mascarpone with 1 tsp espresso and 1 Tbsp sugar, thinning slightly with a little milk.  When the cake is cool, spread half the mixture on the bottom layer, then sprinkle half of the roughly chopped pistachios, then top with the other layer, frosting and the remainder of the pistachios.

Espresso cardamom pistachio cake


The average rainfall for April in England is 37 millimeters.  That equates to about an inch and a half of rain.

The reason I bring up this little meterological factoid is because what we actually got this last April was two millimeters.  TWO.  That’s negligable.  Criminey, that’s a humid day in July.  It’s nothing.

However, the dry weather combined with record warm temperatures have had one fantastic result – a bumper crop of British strawberries.  Strawberries so plump and red and juicy, you see them and get a whole new understanding of the seduction scene in Tess of the d’Urbervilles.  Even in bad years, British strawberries blow their Californian cousins out of the water – they’re slightly smaller but inifinitely more flavorful and juicy.  This year, though … well, they’re in a league all their own.

So, yesterday, I went out to pick up a couple of things from the grocery and succumbed to the siren’s call of half priced strawberries.  Resistance was definitely futile.

So, this morning, I had every intention of making either a Victoria sponge cake or possibly a pound cake.  Then, I looked in my fridge and was greeted by a complete dearth of eggs.  Don’t ask me how it happened, I’m still at a loss.  So.  What to make to go with the little red beauties …

Then, it dawned on me – shortcake!  Flour, sugar, butter, leavening, cream – no eggs required!  Heck yeah!!

Brown Sugar Shortcakes with Strawberries

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 6 oz butter, chilled
  • 1 1/2 cups cream
  • Strawberries, halved or quartered (depending on size)
  • Cream + 2 tsp sugar, whipped

Preheat the oven to 425 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Pop the butter in the freezer for about 15 minutes to get it super cold while you’re getting your stuff together.  Put the flour in a very large bowl and add the baking powder, brown sugar and salt, then toss well to aerate and combine.  Remove the butter from the freezer and grate it into the flour mixture, rubbing in until it’s pea-sized, then pour in the cream and stir to combine, then use your hands to continue mixing but not overworking.  It’s going to feel a little dry, but you’ll be able to squeeze it together to form your dough. 

Use a 1/3 cup measurer to get the same amount of dough each time, then use your hand to squeeze them into a patty shape and place them on the pan about an inch or so apart – this recipe will make about 18 shortbreads – and bake about 15 minutes until they’re golden on top.  While they’re cooking, sprinkle your sliced strawberries with a little sugar to ge them to macerate and whip the cream and sugar.  Let the shortcakes cool a bit then serve by halving and generously layering with the berries and cream


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