Tag Archives: pistachio

the wedding cake: pistachio paste

Sitting on the floor – somewhat bewildered, that Sunday after the happy couple came round for the first time – frantically thumbing through my books looking to be inspired by something impressive I came across a decadent looking layered pistachio cheesecake. A combination of creamy pistachio cheesecake, little cubes of syrup soaked sour cherries in the middle topped with a pistachio mousse and then sprinkled with ground pistachios.

This was my starting point for putting the wedding cake together. Stumbling at the first hurdle though, every component of this cake needed pistachio paste. I’d never seen in it supermarkets, but presumed it would be easy enough to find in London – I mean you can practically buy anything if you’re willing to spend a bit in fancy specialist food stores. I googled it, and although pistachio paste is a common ingredient in French and Italian baking, I couldn’t find a single source to buy it from in the United Kingdom. Ordering from online shops in France was easy enough but paying £25 with postage for a small jar of paste seemed obscene.  So, my only other option was to make it.

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crushed pistachio shortbread

I sit in the cosy, heated front room looking out at the grey light turning to dusk hours before the end of the afternoon. I can still faintly smell the sweetness of freshly baked shortbread coming from the kitchen, and in the winter bleakness cannot begin to imagine the dry heat that surrounded me the last time I had a square of melting shortbread.

It was in December whilst road tripping in South Africa. At the end of a week of lazy days in the small Karoo town of Uniondale my Mom and I – with the intrepid fox terrier in tow – set off on the three-hour journey to Port Elizabeth to fetch my sister-in-law and nine-month-old nephew. The one thing Uniondale lacks – like so many small Karoo towns – is decent coffee, freshly percolated through fine roasted and ground espresso beans. It had been weeks since I’d had my usual morning cappuccino hit from one of the many coffee shops that lie between my apartment and work.

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