Pistachio cake with rose water syrup sounded like a recipe too good to pass up. And the fella is a freak for pistachios so I knew I would get points for making a dessert he would go crazy for. Perhaps next time I cook something that requires him wash every dish in the kitchen twice he won't curse me so much. When I told him what I was making it also got me help shelling about a pound of nuts which otherwise could have taken me hours going at it alone.
The rest of the baking didn't go so smoothly. It was nearly impossible to fold fluffy egg whites into a sugary pistachio paste. I'm still not quite sure how that was supposed to work out but I did the best I could and ended up with a cake that alternately had chunks of nuts or areas of egg white when it was cooked. Which sounds kind of unattractive but you'd be surprised how good it is when covered in rose water syrup.
Also I didn't realize fructose would react so differently than sugar to being baked. The original recipe called for baking the cake for 45 minutes but after about 20 minutes mine started smelling burnt. So I had to do the biggest soufflé no no and open my horrible windowless oven and see what was going on in there. Turns out I had a very very brown cake that had fallen from fluffiness long ago. I'm not sure what I should have done differently to prevent this failure but it tasted just fine so I'll take the hit for the sugarless team and let the world know that fructose in a soufflé is not a good idea. If you figure out how to make this work let me know.
Regardless of what it looked like the fella and I had no problem eating this sweet, gooey creation all last week. It was worth the work.
1/2 cup fructose (or 1 1/ 2 cups sugar)
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons rose water
5 eggs, separated
1/3 cup fructose (or 1 cup powdered sugar)
1 1/2 cups pistachios, finely ground
1/3 cup pistachios, chopped coarsely
Make the syrup first. Bring fructose, water and lemon juice to a boil and simmer just until fructose is dissolved. The syrup will be very thin and will not reduce. Remove from heat and stir in rose water. Let syrup cool to room temperature and then put in refrigerator to chill.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 or 10 inch diameter nonstick round cake pan.
In a large bowl beat the egg yolks and the fructose until it is a pale creamy texture. Add the finely ground pistachios and mix very well. Beat the egg whites until stiff in a small bowl using a standing mixer(read Julia Child's advice in Mastering the Art of French Cooking on egg whites for more in depth tips on how to make it work) and then fold them gently into the pistachio mixture.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan, sprinkling with the course chopped pistachios and cook for about 25 minutes (45 if using sugar.) The cake will poof up slightly like a soufflé and will pass the toothpick test when finish. Immediately turn the cake over onto a deep serving dish. Using a tooth pick make holes over the top of the cake then pour the syrup over it. The cake will taste best after 2 hours when the syrup has had time to soak into the cake.
Made Montignac friendly from a recipe by Claudia Roden in Arabesque.