Goodnight Rose: Pistachio-Cardamom Cake with Rosewater Frosting

By • January 28, 2011 • 34 Comments

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Author Notes: Pistachio and cardamom are a classic combination in Indian sweets. Growing up in a South Indian household, these flavors were everywhere, and they are near and dear to my heart (and palate). Rosewater is also common in Indian sweets, and it's often paired with pistachios. I came up with this recipe a few years ago when I was making a spread of Indian-inspired cupcakes. It has come to be my signature flavor and the most often requested from both my family (my dad can't get enough of it) and friends. The flavors are exotic but they're not overwhelming, and the presentation of a cupcake brings in a bit of the familiar, making these at once comforting yet transporting.

This cake perfectly epitomizes who I am, both in the kitchen and outside of it: thoroughly American but inspired by my Indian heritage, and also a woman who is creative and has a keen attention to detail - which, in this instance, results in a uniquely and intensely flavored yet delicate cake with a silky, ethereal frosting that always seems to end up lingering in peoples' memories. This is undoubtedly the perfect candidate for my signature and most memorable recipe.

[Note: this recipe makes the right amount of batter for an 8" or 9" cake, so you can easily convert this into a layer cake, as seen in the photos above.]
raspberryeggplant

Makes 8 cupcakes or one 8" cake layer

Pistachio-Cardamom Cupcakes

  • 1/4 cup shelled raw pistachios
  • 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (use 1/8 teaspoon if using freshly ground cardamom)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk, room temperture
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond exxtract
  1. Heat your oven to 350 F and place a rack in the middle. Line 8 wells of a muffin pan with papers and set aside - OR - grease and flour an 8" cake pan.
  2. Put the pistachios in a mini chopper and pulse until very finely ground. Be careful not to turn it into a paste! Transfer the ground nuts into a small bowl and set aside 2 tablespoons for topping the cupcakes.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom into a medium bowl and set aside.
  4. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about three minutes.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, and beat on medium speed until the mixture is uniformly smooth, about 30 seconds.
  6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add half of the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until just combined.
  7. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the milk, vanilla extract, and almond extract and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture is uniformly smooth, about 15 seconds.
  8. Scrape down the sides of the bowl (can you tell I'm very particular about this) and add the remaining flour mixture. Mix on low speed until barely combined - it's ok if there is still some flour on the sides of the bowl.
  9. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add the ground pistachios (except for the reserved 2 tablespoons) and mix gently to combine.
  10. Divide the batter among the lined muffin cups (or pour it all into a cake pan). Bake until the tops spring back lightly when pressed and a toothpick comes out clean, about 16 minutes. (An 8" layer will take 22-25 minutes.)
  11. Cool the cupcakes in the pan set on a rack for 10 minute, then transfer to the rack to cool completely. (Similarly for the cake, let it cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then flip it out onto a rack to cool completely.)

Rosewater Meringue Buttercream Frosting

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks, 6 ounces) unsalted butter, slightly cooler than room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon rose water (NOT rose syrup!) - this can be found at Middle Eastern and Indian groceries and even at places like Whole Foods
  • 1 drop pink food coloring (optional)
  • 8 pink rosebuds (optional; available from tea shops)
  1. Bring 1-2" of water to a simmer in a saucepan that is wide enough for the bowl of your mixer to sit on top of it (but not so big that the bowl falls in).
  2. Add the egg whites and sugar to the mixer bowl. Whisk well to combine, then place over the pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is opaque and thick, about 3 minutes.
  3. Transfer the bowl to the mixer and attach the whisk attachment. Start on low speed and over the course of 30 seconds, bring the speed up to high. Whip on high speed until the whites are thick and glossy and the bowl is cool to the touch, about 7 minutes.
  4. While the whites are whipping, cut the butter into tablespoon-sized chunks. It's important that the butter is not too warm, so if it's squishy, put it in the fridge for a while so that it's somewhat firm but still pliant.
  5. When the whites are cool, scrape down the sides of the bowl and lower the speed to 8. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and whip until combined, about 10 seconds. Continue with the remaining butter, waiting 10 seconds between each addition.
  6. When all the butter has been added, turn the speed to high and whip until the mixture comes together to form a thick frosting. This may take a while depending on how hot or humid it is, but don't lose faith - it will come together! After the frosting comes together, continue to mix on medium-high speed for another minute.
  7. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the rosewater and pink food coloring (if using) and whip on high speed for 10 seconds to combine.
  8. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.
  9. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes once they are completely cooled and top each one with a sprinkling of ground pistachios and a rosebud (if using).
Jump to Comments (34)

Tags: cake, cupcakes, Desserts, indian

Comments (34) Questions (0)

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14 days ago Jessica

Excuse typos/punctuation errors I must need coffee and can't see how to edit hehe.

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14 days ago Jessica

Thanks for sharing. I was wondering if you use green or black cardamom in this recipe? I assume green but want to check. Would you say this is what people usually refer to when not specified in recipes in general in your experience. I've only tried my hand at some traditional savory indian dishes which have specified in my limited experience. Thanks for your time :).

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6 months ago Dhanush Pshetty

i love the taste of it

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6 months ago Basha

I loved using this recipe, but had to make 4 batches worth to make a two-layer cake. The flour measurement might be a giveaway, but it took me making the first batch to realize I had to triple the next!

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about 1 year ago samantha farina

hi im not sure if you will see this in time but i want to make this make tommorrow, but im confused about converting your measurements to grams (im in the uk) can you help please? thanks Sam xx

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about 1 year ago fortyniner

Samantha - try this handy conversion chart, I'm in Aus and use recipes from everywhere and just convert them to what I'm familiar with. Good luck with the cake, it's very tasty.
http://allrecipes.com/howto...

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about 1 year ago Shaz

Hi Yazz, I made my own buttercream frosting so I'm unable to comment about the meringue frosting. This cake is simply amazing.

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about 1 year ago Yazz

Hi I just tried this recipe yesterday, I was just so excited about the combination of flavors. Can I check, when you are whisking the egg whites with sugar over the stove, do you do so by hand or machine? As I did it by hand, and don't think I ever reached the thick stage you were looking for. Also my granulated sugar was brown, don't know if that was an issue? But eventually the frosting turned out ok.

Rkm_profile

about 1 year ago raspberryeggplant

Sorry this step wasn't clear - when the egg whites + sugar are in the mixer bowl over the pot of simmering water, you whisk by hand. Also, I often use turbinado sugar, and it doesn't affect the frosting (although you won't get a pure white frosting, which I don't mind).

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over 1 year ago serina

Hi Rasberry eggplant, how did u make the green frosting on the cake..is it the same frosting u mentioed above?

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over 1 year ago raspberryeggplant

Same frosting - just added a bit of green food coloring.

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almost 2 years ago Shaz

Hi Raspberryeggplant, I made these cupcakes for an Indian themed party and they were a big hit!! Everyone loved the blend of flavours. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe.

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almost 2 years ago Shaz

Hi Raspberryeggplant, Thanks for the feedback. Also, can I cover the cake in fondant or no?. It's seems like it's a light cake. Thanks so much. Shaz.

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almost 2 years ago Shaz

Hi Raspberryeggplant. J'adore the whole indian inspired recipe. I will attempt to make if for a Indian theme party next week. The picture is a 4 layered cake is the recipe for the same sized cake or do I have to double the quantity. Please let me know. Thanks Shaz

Rkm_profile

almost 2 years ago raspberryeggplant

As indicated in the headnote, the proportions used in this recipe make one 8-9" layer cake. If you want to turn this into a layer cake, you'll need to triple the cake recipe and double the frosting recipe. Hope that helps!

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almost 2 years ago KatyM

Hi, I just made these tonight when the mood struck...I've had them pinned for ages! I'm big on cutesy little bites so I made these as mini cupcakes and made a slightly different buttercream (still using rosewater, to preserve the flavor and color combo.) They came out gorgeous! I can upload a pic if you like. My neighbors thought they were adorable (and yummy, too!)

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almost 2 years ago KatyM

Hi, I just made these tonight when the mood struck...I've had them pinned for ages! I'm big on cutesy little bites so I made these as mini cupcakes and made a slightly different buttercream (still using rosewater, to preserve the flavor and color combo.) They came out gorgeous! I can upload a pic if you like. My neighbors thought they were adorable (and yummy, too!)

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about 2 years ago PaDutchMan

I made this recipe for a 91 year old's birthday and he LOVED it as did everyone in attendance - all Pennsylvania Dutch people - go figure!. I doubled the cake batter, used 2, 8" pans and used a bit more rose water (about double) in the icing. The cake was light, moist, elegant and incredibly delicious and the icing was light, subtle and sort of marshmallowy - not your usual buttercream which is heavier on the butter and firms to solid when refrigerated. Thanks for sharing and creating this GREAT recipe.

Rkm_profile

about 2 years ago raspberryeggplant

SO happy to hear that! I love hearing that people enjoy the flavor combination, which is not a typical one. Thanks for the feedback!

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over 2 years ago fortyniner

I made these as cupcakes for a breast cancer fund raiser at our gym recently. They looked ( and tasted) fabulous and sold out no problem. I was so proud of them as they turned out so beautifully.
I now want to make one large cake for a family get together. Have just bought 1 kg of beautiful pistachios at a Lebanese store at an amazing price.
I decorated my cupcakes the day before and stored them in a large cake carrier in the fridge and they were fine.

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over 2 years ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Ok, that's great to know, fortyniner. Many thanks!

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over 2 years ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Hi. Can this cake be frosted a day in advance? If so, how/where would you store the cake? Thank you!!

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over 2 years ago raspberryeggplant

Oh, absolutely. If you've boxed the cake, just wrap it with plastic wrap, then bring the unboxed cake to room temperature 45 minutes - 1 hour before serving.

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over 2 years ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Marvelous! So, box, wrap and put in the fridge? Then let warm to room temp? Do you feel this affects the texture of the cake itself at all? Sometimes they get chewy when cold.... Again, many thanks!!

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over 2 years ago raspberryeggplant

Yep - just make sure the cake is fully at room temperature before serving and it shouldn't be gummy. Let me know how it turns out!

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about 3 years ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Hi fortyniner, i hear you re: plummeting prices. organic cherries were on super sale for one day last week at a local market, and i bought tons and went nuts canning. happy to share my recipe, just uploaded it in fact.
http://www.food52.com/recipes...
let me know what you think if you make it. i can't stop eating it. :)

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about 3 years ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Good lordy, this just can't be bad. The cake is in the oven now, smells divine, and what was left on the paddle was absolutely scrumptious. I'm going to forego the icing tonight and serve a dollop of my cherry-cardamom jam alongside instead but will soon try your full recipe. So pretty too.

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about 3 years ago fortyniner

em-i-lis, Cherry Cardamon jam, is it your own recipe - if so can you share? Our peak cherry season is not until December when prices plummet and you can buy them by the box full so cheap. Would love to make this jam!

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about 3 years ago abigailrcook

I might have just found the recipe for my wedding cake! My fiance was born in Pune, Maharashtra and grew up in Dubai. I'm an old-fashioned Southern American girl. This is the best blend of both worlds!

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about 3 years ago raspberryeggplant

I can't even tell you how flattered I am! Let me know if this makes it to your wedding - if so, I want to see photos! :)

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over 3 years ago Literary Equivalent

Guess what I'm making for my husband's birthday tomorrow? So beautiful.

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over 3 years ago Bevi

This is too gorgeous.

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over 3 years ago fortyniner

This will definitely go onto my 'Have to make this one' list, as like the person above, I too am a pistachio and cardamom fan. I usually buy lemon and pistachio cupcakes at the Farmers Markets, but looks like this recipe is going to be a winner in our household.
Very clear instructions too, well done Raspberryeggplant.

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over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

This is a gorgeous recipe! I'm a huge fan of floral flavors, and the rose, pistachio, cardamom combo is one of the best!