Are you in full-blown holiday spirit yet?
If not, today’s post should get you there.
Because I totally am! And this gorgeous winter wonderland cake is only helping (hurting?) matters. Guys. How pretty is this darn cake? I feel like I can toot my own horn on this one because I am sooooooooo not comfortable with baking and assembling layer cakes. I’ve done a couple on the blog with varying success, and this one just might be my favorite yet.
Not only is it super festive and PERFECT for any and all holiday shindigs you may have coming up, but it’s freaking yummy too. The cake is light and fluffy and chock-full of pistachios and white chocolate. Gah. Do you really need to hear another peep about it? Can you just take my word that it’s incredible?
It is the absolute perfect cake for making into a layer cake. Take it from this cake novice right here, folks. The cake is crumbly and light but dense enough (in a good way!) that it’s easy to handle and work with. The frosting goes on smooth as butter, too, which is always a help. Plus, it tastes like sweet pistachios! Which I adore.
One of the best nuts out there, in my opinion.
As you can see, I opted to keep things on the simple side with the frosting of this cake because it kept me in my cake comfort zone. A straightforward piping of cream cheese frosting between and on top of the cake layers is easy. If I can do it, YOU can definitely do it. THEN! You can decorate it however your heart desires.
I went all out here and made my own meringues from scratch and was so pleasantly surprised at how easy they are. They’re also delicious. Way better than meringues you get at a store. The reason? They’re fresh! They have such an incredibly crunchy, slightly chewy texture, and they remind me of marshmallows in flavor. So fun! I thought they would be the perfect topper for this winter wonderland cake, and I have to say, I was right.
There I go with the horn tooting again (I keep writing out “torn hooting,” hahaha).
Then I added on some glitter sugar for a slight glisten, some pearl sprinkles, and a dusting of powdered sugar. Voile! Winter wonderland cake. This is definitely one of those desserts that looks way more complicated to put together than it really is. The cake recipe is simple, the frosting is simple, and the assembly is really not over-the-top ridiculous. In other words: it’s just what this time of year calls for. It’s important to remember that not everything has to be perfect. Make it rustic. Make it yours!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go have a piece of this while I wrap gifts, listen to Christmas music, drink spiked egg nog, and laugh at Cousin Eddie’s shenanigans.
It’s so fluffy, I’m gonna die!!!! (name that movie)
1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
1⅓ cups cake flour
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips or shavings
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1⅓ cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or extract
1 cup full-fat buttermilk (or whole milk)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
8 oz softened cream cheese
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or extract
Pinch of fine salt
1-2 tablespoons whole milk
Green food coloring, optional
Store-bought or homemade** meringues
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray and set aside.
Pulse the pistachios in a food processor until very fine crumbs form. Place the crushed pistachios in a bowl and whisk in the flours, baking powder, and salt. Mix until well combined.
Place the chocolate chips/shavings in a small mesh strainer and place it over the bowl with the flours. Add a couple tablespoons of the flour mixture to the chocolate chips and shake the strainer gently so that the flour mixture coats the chocolate and falls back into the bowl. Set the chocolate aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add in the vanilla and beat to combine.
Add in half of the pistachio-flour mixture, beating to incorporate. Stream in the buttermilk and beat to combine. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown and set in the middle. Cool the cakes in the pans for 20 minutes and then carefully invert them onto cooling racks. Cool them completely and then refrigerate them for at least an hour before frosting and assembling.
While the cakes are chilling, beat the butter, cream cheese, and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until creamy, light, and fluffy. Add in the vanilla bean paste and 1 tablespoon of the milk, beating well to incorporate. Add more milk, as needed, to thin out the frosting to a spreadable consistency. Beat in the green food coloring, if using. Transfer half the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip.
Place the first chilled cake layer on a cake stand or serving platter. Pipe a ring of the frosting around the top edge of the cake, creating a barrier for the frosting filling. Fill the middle of the cake with a few spoonfuls of frosting and spread everything out so it is even. Top with another cake layer and repeat the frosting process.
Decorate as desired with meringues, glitter sugar, a dusting of powdered sugar, and sprinkles.
Pistachio cake adapted from Seriously Delish.
*I chose to make my own meringues. It was a lot easier than I expected. I followed this recipe EXACTLY.
To make the cake baking experience more manageable, I spread the steps out over a couple days. I made the meringues four days ahead and stored them in an airtight container, baked the cakes one day, and made the frosting and assembled everything another day.