Brown Butter Pistachio Cake with Candied Pistachio Topping

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This brown butter pistachio cake is so moist and flavorful that no one will miss the buttercream!
Brown Butter Pistachio Cake with Candied Pistachio Topping

We celebrated my dad’s birthday last night so it was only fitting that I make him another pistachio treat.  Last year I baked these cupcakes which were a huge hit with everyone who tried them, but admittedly my dad discarded the frosting.  So, I learned my lesson.  No buttercream (sorry, Mom!).  In a household where that wouldn’t typically pass the “dessert” test, I knew I had to go above and beyond with the cake itself.  Well, this brown butter pistachio cake was an enormous hit with everyone, my buttercream-addicted mom included.  My sister and dad kept talking about how much they loved the topping.  I couldn’t get over how much I enjoyed the cake.  The brown butter flavor came through but didn’t overpower the pistachio at all.  And the texture… it was slightly dense but extremely moist.  The edges had a light crunch to them, kind of like the perfect brownie corner.  This definitely isn’t something I’d normally think to make, but I’m definitely adding it to my future baking rotation.  My dad even joked, “you should open a bakery.”

Brown Butter Pistachio Cake with Candied Pistachio Topping

Makes 1 10-inch round cake; Serves 10

Brown Butter Pistachio Cake

Slightly adapted from Baker by Nature


120 grams / 4.05 ounces (~1 cup minus 1 teaspoon shelled pistachios) salted shelled pistachios, ground in food processor to fine meal (about 1 minute)
100 grams / 3.38 ounces (~1 1/4 cups) almonds meal
40 grams / 1.35 ounces (~1/3 cup) all-purpose flour, sifted
250 grams / 8 ounces (1 cup / 2 sticks) unsalted butter, browned and chilled for an hour*
250 grams / 8 ounces (~1/2 cup) granulated sugar
205 grams / 7.25 ounces (~4 large) eggs, whisked
1 tablespoon lemon zest (~one large lemon)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; Grease and flour 1 10-inch round pan and line bottom with parchment paper
In a medium bowl, whisk together ground pistachios, almond meal and flour; set aside
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat together browned butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy
Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula; add eggs, lemon zest and vanilla; mix on medium speed until combined
Remove bowl from mixer and fold in pistachio mixture; do not overmix
Pour batter into prepared baking pan and place in center of oven; bake for 35-40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean from center
Place cake on wire wrack to cool for 10 minutes
Once cake has partially cooled, run a knife around the edge cake for easier removal; carefully turn pan upside down to remove cake;  set aside and make topping

Candied Pistachio Topping

Adapted from My Kitchen Stories


127 grams / 4.5 ounces (~1 cup) salted shelled pistachios
210 grams / 7.5 ounces (~1/2 cup) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water


Place sugar and water in a heavy duty medium saucepan over medium-high heat; stir until mixture comes to a boil and then continue to stir for a few minutes or until it becomes a thick syrupy consistency; remove from heat and stir in pistachios
Spread evenly over center of cake
Slice and serve


*To brown the butter, heat it in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly; when butter turns to an amber/light brown color, remove from heat immediately.  You should be able to smell the deeper more caramel flavor of the butter
Store leftovers covered in a cool dry spot for up to four days for best results

Brown Butter Pistachio Cake with Candied Pistachio Topping

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9 Responses to “Brown Butter Pistachio Cake with Candied Pistachio Topping”

  1. Danae @ reciperunner March 17, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    What a fantastic looking cake! I love buttercream, but this candied pistachio topping looks wonderful! Brown butter really does make everything better!

  2. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar March 17, 2014 at 7:31 pm #

    This pistachio cake sounds totally insane – in the best way. Loving the recipe!!

  3. Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie March 17, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    I absolutely loved the first pistachio cupcakes I ever made recently, and now I must make this cake! Love that topping. I don’t think I’d miss the frosting :-)

  4. Liz @ Tip Top Shape March 17, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

    I can see why everyone loved this cake! It looks amazing!!!

  5. Joanne March 18, 2014 at 6:45 am #

    Your dad doesn’t like buttercream?! Are you sure you’re related?! Just kidding. Kind of.

    This cake looks amazing! You KNOW I’m obsessed with pistachios lately. Need this.

  6. kita March 18, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    What a lucky pop! I would love a home made cake like this for my birthday ;)

  7. Jenny @ BAKE March 23, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    This cake looks delicious, especially the topping!

  8. Lauren March 28, 2014 at 12:07 am #

    Mmmmmmm, brown butter! I can just imagine how amazing this is going to taste!


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