This year in particular, it seemed like “pumpkin fever” took hold before I could finish licking the Labor Day barbecue sauce off my fingers. If an item wasn’t pumpkin flavored, it was pumpkin infused, laced or scented from bagels to pudding to chocolate and beer.
If you happen to be on pumpkin overload and want an alternative for your Thanksgiving dessert table, try the Torta Di Pistacchio. This particular recipe is from a cooking class at one of our favorite Italian restaurants, Canaletto Ristorante Veneto. And by “cooking class,” I mean that we sat at a beautifully set table and watched two talented and highly entertaining chefs whip up three delicious courses. Our job was to drink wine, converse and eat. The chefs always finish the meal with a dessert and an appertif sized-glass of homemade limoncello, an Italian liquer.
This Thanksgiving, if you want to forego the traditional, serve this beautiful torte with chilled Limoncello to cap off your holiday.
Ingredients (sponge cake)
7 whole eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 ounces cornstarch
1/4 Tb baking powder
1/4 Tb vanilla extract
Ingredients (filling and topping)
3/4 cup pistachios, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup Mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate, grated finely (I used a zester)
Bagna mixture (to wet the sponge cake before frosting)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. Triple Sec
Fresh mint, if desired.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar until the mixture becomes fluffly and rises to almost double. Mix the flour, baking powder and cornstarch together in a separate bowl.
Very slowly, incorporate the flour mixture into the fluffy egg mixture until well mixed. Pour batter into a springform pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes. *The sponge cake will rise into a fluffy dome but will settle down once it cools.
Assembling the cake
Cut the sponge cake into three even layers. I used a perforated bread knife and it worked fine. Don’t worry if your layers aren’t perfect – that’s why we have filling/frosting.
Combine the water, sugar and triple sec in a glass bowl to make the Bagna. Wet the sponge cake layers with the Bagna using a pastry brush. Be sure to cover the entire surface of each layer.
Mix the heavy cream, Mascarpone cheese and sugar in a blender until firm. Gently blend in the grated chocolate until mixed. Spread the cream in equal parts on the three layers, one on top of the other and save some for the top. Finish the top of the sponge cake with the creme, pistachios and chocolate shavings. Add mint for aesthetics if desired.
Compliments of Chef Moises Mendoza and Antonio Guarracino
Canaletto Restaurant, Fashion Island Newport Beach, California
And if you’re curious, check out this list of best and worst pumpkin items this holiday season.