Pistachios are spicy little fellas. Step aside the mild mannered and rather demure looking blanched almond and make way for the all together more exotic, jade green and rose madder pink cloaked pistachio. They are one nut I can’t eat fist fulls worth in one sitting as they have so much flavour packed into their relatively small size for a nut, which is lucky as they are the most expensive of all the nuts and so I wait until they come on special offer before splurging my pay packet on them. They are fabulous in savoury dishes from the Middle East and India, such as in these flatbreads but you are really missing out if you don’t add them to your cakes too.
The level of spiciness of the pistachio is similar to that of black pepper or ground ginger to my palate. Whilst some might associate spiciness solely with chilli, there is definitely a very welcome throaty hum of heat with all three of these. Adding the zippy, bright freshness of lime and some reasonably smokey but not nearly so much as that of smoked Spanish paprika, Kashmiri chilli powder produced a friand with what a colleague described as a “fizz banger of a flavour conveyor”! You get a pale jade cake with much more body from the ground nuts than a cupcake or muffin and the first flavour that hits you is the citrus zing of lime followed by that creamy but spicy pistachio nut flavour, with the heat of the chilli powder as an after taste. They eat similarly to ginger nut biscuits but with a much brighter flavour profile. I urge you to give them a go!
- 250g egg whites
- 250g icing sugar
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- Zest of a lime
- 75g shelled pistachios
- 45g ground almonds
- 100g plain flour
- 160g melted butter
- 25g shelled pistachios, crushed in a mortar and pestle
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- Lime juice as needed
- Grease your friand tin with soft butter and preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Blitz the pistachios in a food processor until finely ground - it can take several minutes but stop every 30-40 seconds to break up any clumps that are may form.
- Add in the ground almonds, icing sugar, chilli powder, lime zest and flour and give another blitz to mix well.
- Whisk your egg whites in a large bowl until they are frothy.
- Fold in the mix from the food processor and then stir in the butter. Mix until no streaks remaining.
- Scoop into your prepared tin and bake for 22-25 minutes by which time they should be well risen, lightly browned, spring back when pressed and have a hump like madeleines do.
- Cool for 5 minutes in the tin then use a thin flexible plastic knife or spatula to loosen the cakes and transfer to a rack to finish cooling.
- When cold, mix the 1/2 cup of icing sugar with enough lime juice to form a spoonable paste then drizzle over your cooled cakes.
- Immediately sprinkle over your extra pistachios before the icing sets and leave for 15 minutes before serving.
- When I make a drizzle icing, I just use an American half cup measure and dip it into my icing sugar bag, leveling it off on the bag as I go. Less chance of covering your kitchen in an icing sugar cloud and you don't need accurate measures to drizzle a splish splash of icing on a cake!
- I often use a bag of Sugar & Crumbs' Chilli Lime flavoured icing sugar as it's dead easy and I don't have to make my stupidly sensitive hands sore dealing with a whole citrus. The chilli isn't strong enough though so I add upto a tsp of chilli powder to bump up the flavour, depending on how hot it is!
Remember to check my other friand recipes out too!