It has been a very busy Easter holiday and so I am a bit behind with my posts – sorry. The next post will be the cake for which I used the crystallised violets but I have just had a look at Choclette’s blog and she reminded me that time is running out if I want to submit an entry for this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge. Choclette chose marzipan this month and marzipan is one of my very favourite things. I adore marzipan chocolates and so the idea of cooking with marzipan and chocolate really appealed. I wanted to try something a little different but that was reminiscent of Easter. Easter, of course, means simnel cake, but I didn’t want to make a normal simnel cake. Then I thought about the pistachios I had bought and then about my chocolate hazelnut cupcakes and whether it might work if I made the same mixture but with pistachios and cooked the cake with a layer of pistachio marzipan like you do with simnel. The resulting cake was moist and chewy, much more like a brownie than a cake and was better the second day than the first when it had time to settle.
I really liked this cake/ brownie and it can be made with almonds just as easily. I urge you to have a go at making your own marzipan as it is so much nicer than shop bought. The layer of marzipan sinks to the bottom but is gloriously chewy. The people who tried this cake gave it the thumbs up and I don’t think they were just being polite.
For the pistachio marzipan
125g pistachios, finely ground in a food processor
60g caster sugar
60g icing sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 free range egg, lightly beaten (you will only need about half the egg)
To make the marzipan:
Place the pistachios and the caster sugar and icing sugar in a bowl and mix well. Add the lemon juice and about half the egg and mix to a soft dough. Place on a worktop dusted with icing sugar and knead until smooth. Place in the fridge until you are ready to use it. (I made mine by putting all the ingredients into a food processor and whizzing until smooth, which worked just fine).
For the cake batter:
200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
100g pistachios, finely ground in a food processor
100g spelt flour (you could use wholemeal or plain flour)
25g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.
Roll out the pistachio marzipan into a disc that fits snugly in the tin and leave to one side whilst you make the cake.
Beat the butter with an electric whisk until creamy and then cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Fold in the pistachios, cocoa powder, flour and baking powder.
Place half the mixture in the tin and then carefully place the disc of marzipan on top. Cover with the remaining batter, smoothing the top.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4, for 50-60 minutes. About halfway through check the cake and cover the top with foil if it is beginning to brown. A skewer should come out clean when the cake is cooked.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about ten minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.