Chocolate Pistachio Tea Cake

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for awhile now but have not had the chance to get onto it as I’ve been busy with work, freelancing, doing baking tests/experiments and having my mom fly in for a visit just meant that spare moments to blog are few and far between.

But seeing as to how it’s International Chocolate Day, I can’t put it off any longer so here I am blogging at 1am in the morning.

This recipe may seem long but I urge you to read on as it’s really quite simple. This is a tea cake that’s simple, delicious and oh-so-easy to accidentally eat too much of.

The chocolate teacake base without the “caramel” and ganache additions is something that is good enough to consume as is. It’s not too rich nor overly sweet and it would be something I would gladly have for breakfast (but I have a pretty big sweet tooth, so perhaps that’s just me?).

However, the addition of the salted pistachio “caramel” provides that extra burst of flavour that’s like a small pocket of surprise as you slowly devour the cake. I personally ate half of this tea cake and couldn’t bare to give away more.

And that ganache, oh the ganache, the simple use of just chocolate and cream keeps the ganache smooth and rich without being sugary. It gets all the sweetness it needs from the chocolate itself. So should you like to amp up the level of sweetness, feel free to use milk chocolate or a higher sugar content dark chocolate, but I love my mix of bittersweet and dark chocolate as it just sings the right balance to me.

And on a cold day, giving the cake a short burst of heat in the microwave turns the ganache into a small pool of chocolate sauce all the whilst transforming the cake into the warm vessel for that sauce. All that combined just makes it too hard to resist.

Don’t worry, I’ve even had it cold out of the fridge and its just as good. (When you need chocolate, sometimes even that 1 minute in the microwave is 1 minute too long.) The cold tea cake turns into something resembling a chocolate mud cake but without the dessert-like over the top sweetness that you would expect out of such a cake.

If you do give this cake a try, please let me know how it turns out for you and I hope you like it too.

Chocolate Pistachio Tea Cake

Tea cake base adapted from the Huckleberry Cookbook

What you’ll need

  • 100g cake flour
  • 45g all purpose flour
  • 30g unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dutch processed cocoa powder)
  • 140g unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 225g granulated white sugar
  • 150g dark chocolate (I used 70% cacao chocolate)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 130ml room temperature water*
  • 120ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp espresso powder*
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Salted Pistachio “Caramel”

  • 60g pistachio butter*
  • 22g honey
  • 50g maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • 220g heavy cream
  • 113g 70% dark chocolate*
  • 20g 55% dark chocolate*

Chopped toasted pistachios to top the cake with.

Make it!

Preheat your oven to 180˚C (350˚F). Grease and line a 9″x5″ loaf pan with baking paper. (I find that lining my loaf pans with baking paper just makes it easier for me to lift them out of their molds after they have cooled. )

In a bowl, sift together the cake flour, all purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda.

In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, water, espresso powder and vanilla extract.

Melt the dark chocolate over a double broiler (or if using a microwave, melt the chocolate in short 20-30 seconds bursts). Ensure that the chocolate remains warm after it’s been melted.

Using the paddle attachment on a standing mixer (or with a hand held electronic beater), cream the butter, sugar and salt until it’s light and fluffy. It should take about 2 minutes using a standing mixer, but slightly longer using a hand held electronic beater.

Add the eggs one at a time to the butter mixture making sure you scrape down after each addition.

When all the eggs are incorporated, add the flour mixture and gently fold it into the batter. You want the flour to be fully incorporated but you do not want to over mix the batter as we are not aiming for bread.

Finally, pour in the coffee mixture and mix until combine before adding in the melted chocolate. Give it a final mix to make sure everything is fully incorporated and your batter is ready!

Set it aside to allow the batter to rest whilst you make your salted pistachio caramel.

Salted Pistachio Caramel

Mix everything together in a bowl. There, that’s ready to go! Quick isn’t it? Don’t forget to give it a taste to ensure that it’s salted to your liking.

My salt tends to be rather salty so 1/4 tsp works well for me, however, feel free to increase the amount of salt should you like it saltier. But don’t forget that the heat from the baking process will enhance the flavours so don’t be too enthusiastic with your adjustments. 

Assembly time!

Pour one-third of the batter into your pan, place small dollops using 1/3 of the pistachio caramel on top of the batter in the pan and give it a slight swirl with a toothpick just to ensure you are marbling the caramel. Do not over do it. It’s delicious when you are able to get pockets and streaks of actual caramel as you eat the cake as it provides a nice gooey contrast. All you are trying to do is prevent a huge lump of caramel in one location. Small pockets are perfectly fine, in fact, that’s what we want. This is why we are layering the caramel and batter in 3 additions.

Gently spread the next 1/3 of the batter on top of the batter in the pan followed by another 1/3 of the pistachio caramel repeating the action of the previous layer.

Finally, pour the remaining batter into the pan. Top it with the remaining pistachio paste and use the toothpick to gently swirl it again.

Bake for 55mins – 1hr or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean. You do not want to over bake this cake, if there is a couple of crumbs (slight, almost dry crumbs and not wet batter) sticking to the skewer, take it out of the oven and let the residual heat cook it through as it cools down on a wire rack. Timing is everything, you do not want uncooked batter sticking onto the skewer. This is not a fudge brownie. But at the same time, you do not want it to be absolutely dry either.

Do not fret if you over bake it, it’ll still taste good, but just not as good as it could have been. Just check at the 50 min mark to ensure it’s not over baked, if it’s still under baked, keep checking every few minutes until it’s baked just right.

If you have over baked it, simply make a simple syrup of (2tsp sugar and 2tbsp hot water). To help reincorporate some moisture back into the cake, quickly brush it onto the cake whilst it’s still hot out of the oven.

When the cake has cooled, remove it from the cake tin and it’s time to make the ganache glaze!

Making the ganache

Place all the chocolate in a heat proof bowl. (I use a glass measuring cup for ease of pouring.)

Heat the cream up in a small pot until it scalds (nearly to the point of boiling). When it’s hit the right temperature, turn off the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Leave for a minute to allow the cream to melt the chocolate. After which, you can give it a good stir until the the chocolate and cream combines into a nice smooth ganache.

Leave to cool for awhile until the mixture thickens up. This should take a 5-10 minutes depending on your room temperature and how hot your ganache is after you were done mixing the chocolate with the cream.

The thicker the ganache the thicker the coat on your cake will be as it will adhere better to the cake and not roll off the sides and vice versa.

Pour the ganache onto your cake when its ready and sprinkle chopped pistachios on top for added crunch.


You are now ready to eat it!

Sit back, relax and enjoy with a glass of tea and have celebrate the international chocolate day!

To store, keep refrigerated for up to 4 days.

For a warm cake, reheat the tea cake in a microwave in 20 seconds burst until the cake and ganache has warmed up. Do not over heat it as you do not want the ganache to split.

It’s also good cold out of the fridge. (read above for more notes)

Baker’s Notes:

  • You can replace the 130ml of water + espresso powder with 130ml of coffee cooled to room temperature.
  • Feel free to use hazelnut butter or any nut butter in place of pistachio butter for the caramel. Or you could simply take the caramel away altogether and use 140g of Nutella for a sweeter option. But keep in mind that you’ll lose that salty contrast that you’ll get with the homemade nut butter “caramel”
  • Feel free to adjust the type of chocolate you would like to use for the ganache. You can use fully bittersweet chocolate for a sweeter profile or fully dark chocolate if you do not like it too sweet. Or you can even use a mix of dark and milk chocolate.
  • Ultimately, remember that baking is meant to be fun, so have fun with it. Just remember what you are trying to achieve as you put the cake together and let the recipe guide you. Naturally, changing things like the flour types, rising agents, liquid ratios etc will cause you to have a different result so please do not have fun with that part.






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