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Pistachio Chocolate Cake

Harry Eastwood

by Harry Eastwood from Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache

A pistachio and chocolate cake which, believe it or not, contains courgette. The light and moist cake is finished with chocolate icing and scattered pistachios.


Courgette and chocolate are an unlikely match, yet they are strangely made for one another, since they combine sensible shoes with dark flashing eyes. As ever, Courgette has pre-booked the taxi at the end of the night to take Chocolate home. And Pistachio stands for Party.

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100g pistachios (shelled)
3 medium free-range eggs
180g light Muscovado sugar
300g topped, tailed, peeled and very finely grated courgette
120g white rice flour
60g good-quality cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
For the icing:
1 quantity Naughty Chocolate Icing (see ingredients and method below)
Roughly 25g pistachios, roughly chopped, plus another handful of whole nuts
For the icing:
100g unsalted butter, cubed and cold
100g golden icing sugar, sieved
2 tbsp boiling water
50g good-quality cocoa powder

Essential kit

You will need two 18cm-diameter x 5cm-deep loose-bottomed tins and a food processor, plus a hand-held electric whisk for the icing.


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Line the tins with baking parchment and brush a little vegetable oil around the base and sides.

Blitz the pistachios in the bowl of the food processor until they resemble powder – or as close as you can get to this. If they clog together too much, add a tablespoon of the flour to help them skate around the bowl. Please take all the time required to reach powder, since this will dramatically impact on the texture of the cake.

Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl for 2 full minutes until pale and fluffy. Beat in the grated courgette and the pistachio dust, followed by the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Beat again to make sure that all the ingredients are mixed together well.

Pour evenly into both tins before placing them in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes.

To make the icing, whisk the butter in a large mixing bowl until pale and softened before adding the icing sugar and water. Whisk again until you reach a paste, then beat for a full minute with an electric whisk until doubled in volume.

Add the cocoa powder one tablespoon at a time, making sure to stop the beaters whilst you add it or it will simply fly around the room. Once all the cocoa powder is incorporated, beat thoroughly for a final minute until the mixture is full of air and fluff. Leave it in the fridge until the cakes are cold.

When the cakes are cooked, remove them from the oven and turn them out on to a wire rack. Peel off the baking parchment and leave them to cool for 15 minutes. Refrigerate for another 15 minutes to make quite sure that they are perfectly cold before icing them, otherwise the icing will run off.

Lightly ice the underside of both cakes. Sprinkle the bottom one with the whole pistachios before bringing them together and icing the top. Finish off by sprinkling with the chopped pistachios. Store in the fridge and take out 20 minutes before serving.

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