© 2014 Can Caramelo

Raw Pistachio Cake

…and a bit about the “Calçotada”

Be patient, I will come to today’s recipe of the raw pistachio cake, but as we had is as a dessert after a calçotada last weekend, let me tell you a bit about this Catalan barbecue event. At a calçotada, green scallions are grilled on fire until black and burnt outside. To eat them, you have to grip the shaft with one hand and draw from the upper part with the other hand. The tender inside will slip out of the burnt outside to be dipped in generous amounts of romesco sauce (recipe to come) and transported from above into the mouth. As you eat them with your hands and touch the outer burnt part, everybody’s hands are black after the first two calçots and you might forget and whip your mouth or pull back some hair that is falling into your face… and get all dirty. I’ve always had the feeling that things taste better if you eat them with your hands.

pistachio and cocao nibs collage
The ideal calçotada would be gathering all your friends at the countryside, but the terrace isn’t a bad place either. Usually all the calçots are done on the flames, then wrapped in newspaper to keep warm and eaten all together. As we have a small barbecue, we did them the during whole afternoon (from 2 to 9pm), eating them immediately as they were done (thanks Miquel for grilling perfect calçots the whole day long!). To keep the fire going for so many hours, apart from collecting some wooden fruit boxes from the street, we even sacrificed an old chair. There is often meat after the calçots, but the calçots are undoubtedly the star of this grill event, which makes it interesting for vegetarians.

piece
Apart from the calçots, we had several starters, but I’m especially excited about the dessert, this raw pistachio cake. It’s the birthday cake for my beautiful twin friends. We have this tradition of making each other birthday cakes and spending the day together. Every year we try to surprise each other with new and more special creations, using ingredients and flavors we know the other likes in an unusual way. But this year we couldn’t be together as they are in Chile. Chicas, we thought a lot about you two on your special day. And this is your birthday cake even though you couldn’t eat it. Here is the recipe and the next time we meet (here, there or anywhere), I will make it for you.

Some of the ingredients are rather special, the cacao butter for example is the fat extracted from the cacao bean, white and solid at room temperature, but it melts around 36ºC (96ºF). It makes the cake firmer when kept cool, but melts in the mouth. The cacao nibs are pieces of pure cacao. They are totally optional, but add a nice crunch to the cake. Regarding the coconut butter, you can make your own by blending shredded dry coconut until it turns into a creamy coconut butter, it’s the same principle as with nut & seed butter.

pistachio cake and piece

Ingredients

For the crust
• 1 cup raw almonds
• 3 tbsp coconut butter
• a pinch of sea salt
• 8 medjool dates (pitted) (or around 15 normal dates)
• 3 tbsp pure cacao powder
• 1 tbsp almond butter
• 2 tbsp cacao nibs (optional)

For the filling:
• 1 cup raw pistachios soaked overnight
• 1/3 cup coconut butter
• 1/2 cacao butter, melted
• 1/2 cup plant based milk
• 1/3 cup agave syrup
• a pinch of sea salt

For the ganache:
• 1/2 cup cacao
• 1/4 cup agave syrup
• 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

For the topping (optional):
• 1/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
• 1 tbsp cacao nibs
• 1 tbsp maple syrup (or honey, or agave)
• 1 tsp rosehip powder (optional)

For the crust, put all the ingredients except the cacao nibs in the food processor (melt the coconut butter if it is solid, this will depend on the room temperature) and pulse until the almonds are ground and everything starts to come together. Mix in the cacao nibs with your hands and press the crust into a springform (I used one with a diameter of 26cm/10inches) lined with parchment paper. Put into the fridge to chill and set. For the filling, put all the ingredients in the blender and mix until homogeneous. You’ll have to scrape down the sides a couple of times. Pour over the crust and use a spatula to smoothen the surface. Put into the fridge to chill and set for at least 1h. For the ganache, melt the coconut oil and stir in the cacao and agave. Pour over the filling and smoothen with a spatula. You have to be rather quick as the cool filling will chill the ganache which thus gets solid pretty fast. Return to the fridge. For the topping, heat a little pan, coarsely chop the pistachios and toast them slightly, add the maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener) and the rosehip (if using). Stir a little. Now sprinkle the little clusters over your cake and do the same with the cacao nibs.

cake with piece coming out

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