Pistachio Cake (a.k.a. Watergate Cake)

6 Oct

Now I know what you’re thinking….



Walnuts? Why Yes!

Pecans?  Oh Please!

Almonds? That could be good!

But pistachios???

I’ll be the first to admit I had my doubts.

See, pistachios are my moms favorite.

So every year for her birthday I try to incorporate them into whatever I bake her.

I’ve baked them into torts…

Incorporated them into cookies…

This year I wanted CAKE!!

And not one of those cakes where the recipe begins ~ Start with 1 box yellow or white cake mix…

Aren't the pink and green just lovely together?

I wanted honest to goodness made from scratch cake!

Let me tell you.  This cake did not disappoint!!!

Up until I made this cake I didn’t think I liked pistachios, but I was wrong.

I’ll definitely be making this one again…

…and again.

Even if you don’t think you like pistachios give this cake a try.

It might surprise you.

I know it surprised me.

* I couldn’t find a recipe so this is what I came up with…

Pistachio Cake (a.k.a. Watergate Cake)

2 1/2 C Self-Rising Flour
2 C Sugar
1 C (2 sticks) Butter
1 (3.4 oz) pkg Pistachio Jell-O
1 C Buttermilk
1 T Almond Extract
1/4 to 1/2 C. Ground Pistachios
4 Eggs, separated
Chopped Pistachios to Garnish

Pre-heat oven to 350. Prepare 2 8x3in round pans. Cream the butter, sugar, and Jell-O until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks on at a time until well incorporated. Alternately add the flour and milk, ending with the flour. Mix in the almond extract. Stir in ground pistachios. In a separate bowl whip the egg whites, not to stiff. Fold whites into batter, being careful not to over mix. Divide between pans. Bake approximately 20 minutes or until pick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting. If desired split each layer in half creating a total of 4 layers.

White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

6 lg. Egg Whites
1 C. + 2 T. superfine Sugar
4 Sticks of Butter, directly from fridge
2 tsp Vanilla
3/4 C. White Chocolate Chips, melted
pinch of salt (If using unsalted butter)
pink food coloring, if desired

Using the Kitchen Aid wipe down the bowl, whisk attachment, and a rubber spatula with white vinegar to remove any grease. To the bowl add egg whites and sugar. Place bowl over a pot of simmering water. Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. Simmer until the temperate on a candy thermometer reaches 160 degrees. Remove bowl from heat and place onto mixer. Whip until thick, glossy, and cooled. Switch to the paddle attachment and set mixer to medium. Add butter in small cubes. Continue to whip on medium. Mixture will begin to look curdled, but will come back together after whipping. Add vanilla, melted chocolate, and food coloring. Use to frost cooled cake.


12 Responses to “Pistachio Cake (a.k.a. Watergate Cake)”

  1. Denise October 7, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    WOW! That cake looks amazing! I’m sure your mom loved it. You are so talented!

  2. thelegaltart October 30, 2011 at 2:13 am #

    Looks amazing. Great colours. I love pistachios

    • Patti M. August 11, 2012 at 2:04 am #

      Made this today for my husbands bday! So….the cake was absolutely wonderful! Great texture and flavor!!!! I was a little nervous about folding egg whites in, but I must have followed directions well:) The icing..well it started off good, but I guess I didn’t let the cakes cool long enough as the icing started oozing out of the cake after I made it:( It was kind of funny, as it oozed and oozed:) (all from the middle layer) SO, next time I will let the cakes cool longer. I did have a hard time holding the mixer bowl over water…maybe I need a double broiler or some better culinary skills! I will definitely make this again, maybe with a different icing:) Thanks for the recipe!!

  3. Jo January 18, 2013 at 11:57 am #


    Just wondering what you could use as a substitute to pistachio Jell-O. You can’t buy that in Australia.


    • theplaidplatypus February 27, 2013 at 4:04 am #

      It’s gelatin, here in the US Jell-O is the name brand. Sorry I’m not more help.

  4. Lucia February 17, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    It’s Jell-O Pistacchio Pudding right?

  5. Tina Stickney March 16, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

    I’m making this for St. Patty’s Day today. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!! I hope mine looks half as good as yours. Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  6. Magilla71 July 28, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

    Hi there, is that lovely green color just from the pudding mix? Can I grind the pistachios with some of the flour before making the batter? Thanks so much!

    • theplaidplatypus August 6, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

      Yes, the green comes from the pudding mix. I’ve never ground the pistachios in the with flour, but I don’t see why that shouldn’t work. I hope you enjoy the cake.

  7. Mary December 24, 2013 at 5:36 am #

    My cake turned out fairly well. It took a lot longer than twenty minutes for batter to set. More like thirty five. I will bake at 325 next time but have not iced the cake yet. Can not wait. Once thing I can tell is that it will be a moist cake. Can’t wait.

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