Italian Pistachio Cake with Roasted Plum Frosting

Cakes, Desserts, Summer


For years, you could call me The Queen of Procrastination. Most people procrastinate doing things they dread like laundry, mailing bills, writing checks…you know, the boring stuff. BUT, I procrastinate doing the fun stuff, too.

Waiting until the last minute to get ready to go to a party? ME. Waiting and waiting to put my new pretty flowers in water? ME. Putting off baking a cake that’s been on my to-do list for a long time? ME. My apartment is so clean when I have other stuff to do.

One thing that’s helped me a lot in combatting procrastination is occupying my brain with something else. In the past few years, I’ve gotten really into listening to books on Audible. I’ve listened to all sorts of books! Recently, I listened to a book that was on my to-read list for years: Beautiful Ruins.



The roasted plum frosting is maybe the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made. The color makes my eye balls bulge out and shape into hearts.

It has everything I want in a summer read. It’s light, delicious, gossip-y; basically everything I want to read while laying on the beach. My biggest problem is that I never ended up reading it haha. So listening to it is way more realistic for me.




Coincidentally, part of the book takes place in Southern Italy. I’ve been trying to get to to the Amalfi Coast for a few summers now because it looks so ridiculously dreamy. I wanna see the rocky cliffs, the umbrellas, the seafood, the desserts and the large amounts of cold lambrusco. And plums. I always think of Italian plums.

The southern Italian part of the book inspired this cake. It’s a pistachio cake. It’s slightly dense, moist and the texture is magical. It’s nutty but still light.


Not gonna lie, the recipe you see below might make your eyes roll because there are a few parts to it. I know some shortcuts! Use store-bought pistachio paste (I opted to make it because I couldn’t find it!).

I love listening to books and baking. It’s like the most soothing combination in the entire world. This book (and recipe) are a good match because it helps pass the time in the most enchanting and entertaining way.


Of course you don’t have to listen to Beautiful Ruins, you can listen to all sorts of books. Listen to a new-to-you book, maybe one that’s bee on your to-read list.

Listening to it almost feels like a radio show in the 30s. I really, really dig it.

If you like, you can get a free 30-day trial to Audible. Listen to anything on there your heart desires!!


Italian Pistachio Cake with Roasted Plum Frosting

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serving Size: 1 (8-inch two layer) cake


Pistachio Paste:

  • 1 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup almond meal

Plum Italian Meringue Frosting:

  • 2 black plums, such as Santa Rosa Plums
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup egg whites, from 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups about 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

Pistachio Cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon or orange zest, from about 1/2 orange
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought pistachio paste

For garnish:

  • 3/4 cup chopped pistachio nuts


  • To make the pistachio paste: To a high-powered blender or food processor, add the pistachios. Pulse until roughly ground. Transfer to a small bowl. In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Cook over high heat until it reaches 220 degrees and is bubbling. Pour over the pistachios and mix immediately. Transfer to the blender or food processor and pulse until finely ground. While the machine is running, pour in the oil. Blend until it resembles a soft peanut butter, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, mix in the almond meal. At this point it should go from soupy to firm. Measure out 1/2 cup of the paste and store the rest in the fridge. Set aside.
  • To make the frosting: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a small baking dish, toss together the sliced plums, sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt and water. Roast for 15 minutes, or until the plums are super juicy and a syrup has formed. Set aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the plums and its juices to a blender and pulse until completely pureed. Pour through a strainer, into a small bowl. You should end up with about 1/3 of a cup puree. In the bowl of a stand-up mixer with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and sugar; beat just until combined. Add a few inches of water to a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Place the stand-up mixer bowl atop the saucepan, creating a double-boiler.
  • Heat until the mixture reads 160 degrees on a thermometer and/or until it's very hot to the touch. Transfer the bowl back to the stand-up mixer and beat, on high, for 8 to 10 minutes until medium to stiff peaks form. The sides of the bowl should be cool to the touch. Remove the whisk attachment and in place of it, add the paddle attachment.
  • While the mixer is on low, add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, until it's light and smooth and fluffy. Lastly, add the 1/3 cup of plum puree and mix until combined. If the frosting is soupy (mine was because it was really hot), add the bowl to the fridge to chill for 5 to 10 minutes. This will work like a charm. Set aside until you're ready to frost the cake.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 8x3-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with a round of parchment (this isn't totally necessary but I always do this because my biggest fear is cake sticking to the bottom of pans). Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a stand-up mixer add the butter and sugar; cream together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the zest and then crack in one egg at a time, adding the next egg only when the one before it has combined. Almost lastly, add in the vanilla extract. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the yogurt and flour mixture in a few batches, alternating between the two. Lastly, add the pistachio paste and mix until properly combined.
  • Divide the cake batter amongst pans, smoothing out the top with a spatula (the batter will be a little thick so it'll need some help smoothing out). Transfer to the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pan for 10 minutes before removing them to cool completely on a wire rack.
  • To assemble: place the first layer of cake on a cake board or a cake stand. Add about 1/4 cup of frosting the top of the cake layer and smooth it out, pushing it out to the sides. Add the second layer on top and then add a second 1/4 cup to the top of that. (These measurements can be eyeballed.) Smooth out the top and add a nice thin layer all the way around the sides of the cake. Transfer to the freezer to chill for about 5 to 7 minutes. This is the crumb coat. Add a second even layer on the outside. Transfer to the cake to a baking sheet and press the chopped pistachios all around the sides of the cake. Slice and serve!


Recipe notes: The plum frosting's base is borrowed from the book Layered (one of my favorites!).
If you don't have two 8x3-inch cake pans you can use two 9-inch cake pans OR you can use three 8x2-inch cake pans.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @acozykitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #acozykitchen

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.

Italian Pistachio Cake with Roasted Plum Frosting

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Leave a Reply

  • Reply Vivian | stayaliveandcooking July 29, 2016 at 12:43 am

    Ohhh my, that is one pretty cake! I’m always scared of trying cakes like these because they will never be as good looking as the ones from the recipe I work with, haha. Anyway, I completely recognise the procrastination part…. My house for example is also extremely clean whenever I have to start studying. At least we got that done, right?

    Have a great weekend!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme July 29, 2016 at 8:29 am

      Honestly not having to decorate the sides helps A LOT! I always have a clean house bc of procrastination haha.

  • Reply sarah Watkins July 29, 2016 at 2:29 am

    this is so beautiful. love the pale pink and green. stunning and no doubt delicious. definitely on my to do list now. thank you x

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme July 29, 2016 at 8:29 am

      Green and pink are my favorite color combination right now!

  • Reply Lori July 29, 2016 at 3:15 am

    I hear so many good things about Audible. I just may have to try it. And, this cake is a absolutely gorgeous! Love, love, love that it’s made with pistachios.

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme July 29, 2016 at 8:28 am

      Doooo it. I’m trying to figure out the next book to listen to.

  • Reply Abby @ Heart of a Baker July 29, 2016 at 6:37 am

    I’ve been wanting to read that book! I’m going to Portland in a couple weeks and need a book to read, so this one is going on my list. Also, this cake is gorgeous, that frosting is on POINT.

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme July 29, 2016 at 8:27 am

      Oh dooo it! Also, let me know if you need any Portland tips. That’s one of my favorite cities now! xo

  • Reply Billy July 29, 2016 at 7:51 am

    deng gurl you done did that

  • Reply heather (delicious not gorgeous) July 29, 2016 at 8:00 am

    love the color of the buttercream! i tried to make a beet glaze earlier this year, and it was very… beet-y in flavor. this one is gorgeous and i’d happily eat plums in baked goods (:

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme July 29, 2016 at 8:28 am

      Ahhh hahah. I did this too and while it was beautiful I was like dang this tastes like beets, I never posted the recipe. Lol. Plums I think work a lil’ better. 🙂

  • Reply Ace July 29, 2016 at 9:28 am

    This looks absolutely divine! Pistachio is one of my favorite flavors (it’s our wedding cake actually!) and I literally cannot get enough of plums when they’re in season. I’ve been known to eat them for every meal and then grill them for dessert. It’s a delicious problem. I can’t wait to make this!

  • Reply Laura (A Beautiful Plate) July 29, 2016 at 9:52 am

    so so gorgeous! that top swirl! also, i’ve definitely perfected the art of procrastination and i totally know what you mean about your house being so clean because of it (my favorite form of delaying things i need to do!!!). gotta try your trick for beating it!

  • Reply Krystal // The Krystal Diaries July 29, 2016 at 10:18 am

    This cake looks so pretty!! It sounds so yummy too. I’m a fan of anything pistachio so I can’t wait to try this recipe out.

  • Reply JR July 29, 2016 at 10:22 am

    Where, oh, where did you get that cake stand?? It’s beautiful. It’s a perfect match for the beautiful colors on this cake! Love it.

  • Reply Mick July 29, 2016 at 11:53 am

    Looks amazing!!

  • Reply Susan P July 29, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    This looks delicious. My birthday is coming up and I think I’ll make it for myself! Yum!

  • Reply Tara Gutman July 29, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    Ha! This book has been on my nightstand since last summer…looks like I’m meant to read it. And this cale…I’m meant to bake it. Thanks!!

  • Reply Currently Crushing On. | How Sweet It Is July 30, 2016 at 3:46 am

    […] italian pistachio cake – absolutely stunning. […]

  • Reply Kari July 30, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Yum!!! This looks so delicious!

  • Reply Denisse | Le Petit Eats July 31, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    This cake looks like the most perfectly idyllic way to spend the afternoon. Totes been craving a trip to the Amalfi coast too (prob bc of Instagram and Pinterest), and now I want to Audible this book simply because you mentioned it partly takes place there 🙂

  • Reply Medeja August 2, 2016 at 5:21 am

    Great cake! All parts of it sound and look so good!

  • Reply Sarah August 2, 2016 at 8:09 pm

    How far in advance could you make this cake and frosting? If I want to make those things the day before and assemble them the next day would they hold up?

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme August 2, 2016 at 8:12 pm

      You can definitely make everything the day before. Just be sure to wrap the cakes securely with plastic wrap and stick them in the fridge. It’ll be totally great.

  • Reply Kate August 8, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    This is a stunner of a cake! Truly celebratory in every way. Bravo!!

  • Reply Jennifer Irwin August 13, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Hi! I noticed the ingredient list calls for zest but the recipe doesn’t mention when it goes in. I’d love to try this recipe.

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme August 14, 2016 at 10:01 pm

      Ahh! I missed that, thanks for noticing. It’s in there now. It goes in right after the sugar!

  • Reply Hala August 17, 2016 at 10:31 pm


    Stupid question i Know. Do we measure the flour and then sift?

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme March 6, 2017 at 10:35 pm

      sorry for forgetting to answer this question for you! it’s not a dumb question! i always measure and then sift!

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    […] and ready to go and was looking for something to put it in so I whipped up a paste (similar to this pistachio butter). It incorporated into the cake wonderfully and tasted so so Christmas-like. So v festive. Of […]

  • Reply Amy February 26, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Hi! I am so excited to make this cake for my mothers birthday- she loves pistachio, and this recipe sounds amazing! I am a bit of a novice at baking however and I was wondering if the pistachios should be raw or roasted? Thanks in advance!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme February 26, 2017 at 11:06 am

      oh amazing! raw would be preferred but it’s pretty hard to find. i made it with both raw and roasted and roasted was delicious, too!

  • Reply Amy February 26, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Thank you!!

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  • Reply ML September 2, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    I tried this pistachio cake because I loved the amount of paste this recipe has! The photography and the cake really inspired me as well. Although this cake tasted very delicious, it was rather dry – I’m assuming that it’s because it’s butter based (butter sets hard and oil stays liquid) and I usually use a mix of butter/oil. My partner couldn’t taste the pistachios… weirdly. I’m thinking of taking this recipe and substituting some of the butter with pistachio oil for a more in-depth flavour and hopefully to make it more moist. Thank you for sharing!