Chocolate and Pistachio Cake

Chocolate and Pistachio Cake

Can you think of anything better than two thick layers of chocolate sponge, sandwiched together with chocolate ganache and smothered in pistachio buttercream, topped off with ganache drips and chopped pistachio nuts?!

Birthday cake

We have had two big birthdays in our family this year. First was my sister who turned 30 in March, then earlier this month my dad hit the big 6-0!

A big birthday deserves a show stopping birthday cake but my Dad wanted to celebrate in relative quiet. There was no big party, instead my sister and I travelled back to our home town mid-week to surprise him for a home cooked meal and a slice of cake.

She cooked his favourite meal (paella) and I baked a cake. As there were only 4 of us I made just a small two layered, 6 inch cake but when I saw the smile on his face, it may as well been ten times the size!

Chocolate and Pistachio Cake on a gold cake stand 3

Pink and Green Pistachios

Whenever I think of my Dad I think of pistachios – how many sons or daughters can say that?! I have fond memories of him sat in his arm chair, watching sport on a Saturday, while shelling pistachios! I loved how underneath their pale skins, they were bright green and pink!

When I asked my Mum what flavour cake I should make, I should have known that she’d say pistachio! I thought about using the ground nuts in the sponge – a bit like you would if you used ground almonds – but I thought that was too obvious.

Instead I decided to use my Vitamix to grind them up super fine and mixed them in with icing sugar in my usual buttercream recipe. The result was a pistachio flavoured, bright green buttercream – and I didn’t even need to use any food colouring! Can you believe that colour is natural!!!

Chocolate makes everything better

If I wasn’t going to put pistachios in the sponge then I had to think of another way to flavour the cake. Sure, vanilla would have been fine but it seemed a little underwhelming. Rose and orange blossom were two possibilities but everyone knows that chocolate makes everything better!

After the great reaction for my sisters chocolate cake I wanted to make something similar so I decided to pair the pistachio buttercream with chocolate sponge. I then sandwiched the chocolate sponge layers with my signature chocolate ganache then drizzled the remaining ganache over the cake creating drips. It was the perfect balance of bitter and sweet!

Chocolate and Pistachio Cake on a gold cake stand

The recipe

Chocolate and Pistachio Cake on a gold cake stand with chocolate ganache drips and chopped pistachios

Chocolate and Pistachio Cake

Two thick layers of chocolate sponge, sandwiched together with chocolate ganache and smothered in pistachio buttercream, topped off with ganache drips and chopped pistachio nuts!
5 from 14 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Decorating time 1 hr
Total Time 50 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine British
Servings 10 people
Calories 933.33 kcal


For the chocolate sponge cakes

For the buttercream

For the ganache

To decorate

  • 75 grams chopped pistachios


To bake the cake

  • Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 (160 C), and line two 6 inch cake tins with grease proof paper.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar until soft and smooth.
  • Beat in the eggs until the mix is creamy in pale.
  • Sift the cocoa powder and flour into the bowl and fold through until fully incorporated.
  • Finally, stir through the coffee.
  • Pour the cake mix into the two tins and bake for 35-45 mins or until springy to the touch and a skewer comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out on to a cooling rack.

To decorate

  • Beat the softened butter until it becomes pale and creamy.
  • Add i the icing sugar and ground pistachios and beat gently until just incorporated and smooth and spreadable.
  • Spread a small amount on to a cake board or cake plate and place the first sponge layer on top.
  • Fill a piping bag with a round nozzle and pipe just around the outer rim of the sponge layer.
  • Heat the cream until almost simmering then stir in the chopped chocolate. 
  • Keep stirring until the chocolate has completely melted and its smooth and glossy. 
  • Allow the ganache to cool  stirring regularly until its spreadable. 
  • Spoon some of the ganache on top of your base layer of sponge cake up to the piped ring of buttercream.
  • Sprinkle half of the chopped pistachios over the ganache.
  • Place the second layer of sponge on top of the buttercream/ganache and press down gently.
  • Spoon a third of the buttercream on to the top of the cake then, using a large spatular, spread the buttercream until smooth on top, and gently ease it down the sides of the cake.
  • Once the whole cake is covered in one smooth layer, place the cake in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  • Add a second layer of buttercream and make sure the edges are smooth.
  • If the ganache has become firm while you've been icing, gently reheat it, stirring frequently to make sure it stays smooth and glossy.
  • Using a teaspoon, spoon drips over the edge of the cake. 
  • Once you have created drips round the whole cake, spoon the ganache on top and gently ease right up to the edge of the cake until smooth.
  • To finish, sprinkle over the remaining chopped pistachios.


Calories: 933.33kcalCarbohydrates: 98.19gProtein: 11.21gFat: 58.76gSaturated Fat: 31.94gTrans Fat: 1.49gCholesterol: 185.15mgSodium: 359.78mgPotassium: 426.55mgFiber: 5.58gSugar: 73.16gVitamin A: 1456.47IUVitamin C: 1.04mgCalcium: 66.58mgIron: 3.42mg
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Chocolate and Pistachio Cake on a gold cake stand

If you like this you’ll love…

…these drip cakes!


24 thoughts on “Chocolate and Pistachio Cake”

  • I too have a dad who loves pistachios! Instead of sports though it was Star Trek! I can’t wait to make this for him and me, a fellow pistachio lover. Thanks for sharing

  • Gorgeous presentation! Chocolate and pistachios are a fabulous combination, and this cake looks so mouthwatering. It is amazing that you didn’t use any food coloring at all, yet still get that vibrant color.

    • Thank you so much Karyl. It is amazingisn’t it. I knew it would be a little bit green but I didn’t know just how much!

  • That looks like a delicious celebration cake….and I would love it for my birthday cake too. I always love the colour contrast of the green pistachios against the dark chocolate.

  • Oh, you dad must have been so happy to get his favorite cake. I love pistachio and especially pistachios and chocolate. This sounds so good. So pretty too.

  • What a stunner! This looks beautiful! I’ve never had pistachio in cake but I’m sure it’s delicious with chocolate 🙂

  • What a fantastic cake. When I think of pistachios I think of my Italian parents — they loved the nuts and they always thought of our home in Italy. Wish I could have made them this cake. Next celebration I’ll make it in honor of my folks.

    • Marisa you commenr has really touched me. If you do make it I’d love for you to send me a picture!

  • My Dad likes pistachios, I remember him snacking on them when I was young. I’m guessing he’d be up for trying a slice of pistachio cake.

  • My mouth is watering, pistachios are one of my favorites. My birthday is at the end of the month and I think I’ll make this one for myself.

    • Great idea you won’t regret it. Do send me a picture if you do – you can tag my on instagram or twitter 🙂

  • Chocolate and pistachio goes in hand in hand. This is one of beautiful cake I would like to make it for my wedding anniversary. You make beautiful cake.

  • I love chocolate and pistachios! This cake looks amazing. We have birthdays coming up, this would be perfect for my pistachio loving kiddo.

  • Hi! What a beauty! I plan to make this for my husband’s birthday but I would like to make it bigger…do you have any advice regarding tins etc if I were to double the recipe in order to make a tiered cake? Thank you!

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