Irvin Lin's Chocolate and Brown Sugar Buttercream Rolled Cake with Crushed Pistachios-Famous Fridays
Chocolate and Brown Sugar Buttercream Rolled Cake with Crushed Pistachios

Count backwards from 10. Now pick your jaw up off the floor because although this cake looks intimidatingly awesome, the fact is that those gorgeous spirals come together fairly easily which means that even if you're a beginner baker, you can make this!! I really mean it! That's reason enough to be deserving of Famous Friday's status, but the fact is that every stunning creation I've tried so far in Irvin Lin's Marbled, Swirled and Layered: 150 Recipes and Variations for Artful Bars, Cookies, Pies, Cakes and More comes with this same drop-dead-gorgeous-but-totally-doable-for-the home-chef quality. And these are not just flash in the pan show offs but winners in the taste department too! Take this Chocolate and Brown Sugar Buttercream Rolled Cake with Crushed Pistachios which has four layers of tender bittersweet chocolate enrobed in a creamy, sweet but not overly so, caramel-flavored frosting covered with crunchy roasted pistachio nuts. No really, pick your jaw off the floor now 'cause it's time to learn how to make this edible artwork!!

But before we jump to the actual cake I have to spend a little time raving about this special cookbook. Basically I'd like to spend the next two months staying home and baking my way through the book, but sans kitchen and sans opportunity to let every other aspect of my life fall by the wayside, I'll just go ahead and say that if beautiful baking projects get you excited, you MUST treat yourself to this book! I've made about 6 different things already (pre-kitchen reno) and none was a clunker. I promise to share them all soon!!

Enough talk--let's bake, shall we? 

So, for starters, you cook up the bittersweet chocolate cake which comes out thin and surprisingly easy to work with. Next, you cut it in half and then cut those halves in half again so that you wind up with 4 same-size rectangles.

Slather on that silky brown sugar buttercream and scatter some pistachios on top.

Now comes the fun! Working with the first rectangle, you roll it up into a tight spiral and stand it on end on a cake plate. 

Then, you take the next piece and wrap it around that already-rolled piece on the plate.


And again, until all 4 layers are wrapped around each other and you have an adorable little spiral!

Frost the outside of the cake, press on some chopped pistachios and...

Voila! Your masterpiece is ready for lots of oohs and aahs and picture taking, of course! It's truly a thing of beauty in both looks and taste. Every bite is the perfect combination of deeply chocolate cake, creamy sweet frosting and crunchy pistachios. Make it for your most important celebrations! My daughter and I made this for my twin niece's birthday party and it was definitely a hit!! Who can resist the mesmerizing lure of the spiral?

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So if you're feeling a bit artsy this weekend, pick up a copy of Irvin's amazing book and try out this or any other of the other 149 wonderful concoctions--that's what I'd be doing if I had an oven! And speaking of ovens, the kitchen is really coming along. Just passed our Insulation inspection and the sheetrock is going up as I speak! Cabinets likely next week and things will really start taking shape!! Can't wait!!

 Enjoy the weekend and eat something yummy with someone you love!

Irvin Lin's Chocolate and Brown Sugar Rolled Cake with Crushed Pistachios-Famous Fridays

Makes about 12 servings
Prep Time for Cake:  20 minutes; Bake Time:  14-16 minutes; Prep Time for Buttercream:  25 minutes; Assembly Time:  15 minutes


For the cake

  • 1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening (I used Crisco)
  • 1/4 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar

For the buttercream

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cool but not cold

For the Coating

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped, unsalted roasted pistachios (about 210 grams)

The Recipe

1.  To make the cake:  Preheat oven 350ºF. Spray a 12x7 (or about) rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper and spray the paper as well. Set aside.

2.  Place the chocolate in a large microwaveable bowl (or do all this in the top of double boiler) and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave again for 15 seconds. Stir. If chocolate is not fully melted, microwave again. When chocolate is smooth, add the shortening, coffee and vanilla and stir until the shortening is completely melted and incorporated into the chocolate mixture. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix with a large spoon until all the dry ingredients are absorbed. Then let the batter sit for about 5-10 minutes, until it's just barely warm. Add in the egg yolks and use a wire whisk to blend them into the batter until completely smooth. Set aside.

3.  If you have a stand mixer, attach the whisk attachment, otherwise just use your regular beaters on a handheld mixer. Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl and beat on high speed until soft peaks begin to form. Then let the mixer run and slowly add the sugar in, whipping until the whites look glossy.

4.  Add about 1/4 of the whites to the batter in the bowl and use a large rubber spatula to gently fold in the whites. In 3 batches, add in the rest of the whites folding in one batch completely before adding the next one. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top so that it is evenly dispersed. Bake for 14-16 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake feels firm. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool 30 minutes.

5.  To make the buttercream:  Place the egg whites, brown sugar and salt in the top of a double boiler (or just a bowl that will fit over a pot) and place the bowl over simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Use a whisk to combine the mixture until the sugar and salt have dissolved and the temperature reaches 140º on a candy thermometer. Quickly transfer the egg white mixture to the large bowl of the electric mixer and use the whisk attachment again (or the regular beaters of a hand mixer). Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Then lower the speed to medium and beat for another 5-6 minutes (you may need to do this longer if you are using a hand-held mixer) until the whites are cooled and fluffy. If you have attached the whisk attachment, now swap it out for the regular paddle attachment. On medium-low speed, add 2 tablespoons of butter at a time, waiting for it to be well mixed in before adding the next addition. Once all the butter has been added, turn the speed to low and and beat for another few minutes to smooth everything out and get rid of any bubbles. If the mixture looks curdled, turn the speed up to medium-high and beat for another few minutes to smooth it out.

6.  To assemble the cake:  Invert over a large platter or another rimmed sheet, remove the parchment and then invert it again, so it is right-side up. Trim off about 1/2-inch on the right and left end so that it's a true rectangle. Cut the cake vertically down the center in half so that you are left with two 8x12-inch rectangles. Cut those rectangles in half vertically so that you now have four 4/12-inch rectangles. Turn about half of the buttercream out onto the strips and spread the frosting out evenly, making sure to go all the way to the edges. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the pistachios over the frosting.

7.  Have a serving platter or cake stand ready. Take one of the strips and working with the short end closest to you, roll up the cake as tightly as you can. Don't worry if it cracks a little. Place it upright on the plate so that the spiral is facing the ceiling. Don't worry, it will balance easily. Now take the second strip of cake and wrap it around the first rolled piece of cake that's standing on the plate. Repeat with the remaining two cake strips, continuing the spiral pattern. Then use the remaining frosting to cover the sides of the cake, leaving the top unfrosted so that you can see that great spiral. Press the remaining nuts onto the frosted outside of the cake and fill any gaps on the top with nuts if necessary. Serve immediately or refrigerate for 2-3 days before serving, but make sure you bring it to room temperature or the cake will crack when you slice it.


Note:  Recipe adapted from Marbled, Swirled and Layered by Irvin Lin.


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