Sunday, January 17, 2016

pistachio sponge cake with yogurt mousse and orange saffron syrup...and a birthday!

My amazing husband set off today for a few weeks in Argentina to check on the managing of the ranch. While I'm sure he'll have a blast, we are already missing him here at the ole homestead. His 31st birthday is tomorrow so before he left, he was trying to figure out what kind of dessert he wanted for his birthday. We were watching an episode of this season's Top Chef (we are mildly obsessed) and one of the chefs won for her pistachio sponge cake with yogurt mousse and orange saffron syrup. 
Say what?!
But of course, as soon as he heard this ten-word title for this dish, he decided he must have it for his birthday. Top Chef doesn't publish the recipes to their dishes (they sell cook books for that...) so I had to scour the internet to try to find similar recipes that I could mash together and make something that fit that ridiculous title. 
And here we are! I tweaked a pistachio sponge cake recipe, found a lemon yogurt mousse recipe, and made up the orange saffron syrup! 
And you know what? It was pretty darn tasty.
It's a lot of effort (so. many. steps.) but if you are looking for something totally unique to go with your next Moroccan-themed dinner party, this is it! You can do all the steps in advance (in fact, it's encouraged) so just plate and serve!

Pistachio Sponge Cake with Yogurt Mousse and Orange Saffron Syrup
various online sources, inspiration Top Chef
yogurt mousse
2 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
orange saffron syrup
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
pinch of saffron threads
pistachio sponge cake
6 large eggs, separated
1⁄2 teaspoon cream of tartar (or freshly squeezed lemon juice)
1 1⁄2 cups sugar, divided
1⁄2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 1⁄4 cups flour
1⁄4 cup pistachios, finely chopped
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 cup pistachios, chopped, for garnish

For the yogurt mousse: Beat the egg whites, sugar and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form. Whisk Greek yogurt, orange zest and juice in a separate bowl; fold in the egg whites. Chill 2 hours.


For the orange saffron syrup: Combine all ingredients for the orange saffron syrup and heat over medium-low heat in a small saucepan until simmering. Simmer for 5 minutes; turn off heat and let steep. Store in a small container in the fridge until ready to serve. *if syrup is too thick, microwave for a few seconds to loosen then pour over cake*

For the pistachio sponge cakes: Beat egg whites until frothy; add cream of tartar or lemon juice and beat at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar; continue beating until stiff but not dry. Set aside. Beat yolks about 3 minutes or until very thick and light in color. Add remaining 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; beat until thick. Add orange juice and zest; blend until smooth. Thoroughly combine flour, finely chopped pistachios and salt; gently fold into egg yolk mixture until well-blended. Fold yolk mixture into beaten whites. Pour into small, un-greased ramekins or, if serving a crowd, 2 un-greased, 8" cake pans; cut through batter with spatula to remove air bubbles. Bake at 325*F, 25 to 35 minutes or until cakes spring back when lightly touched.
Immediately invert pans on wire racks; cool completely. To remove cakes, loosen around edges of pans with knife. Pour orange saffron syrup over cakes; allow to sit until syrup is absorbed. Or you can pour a bit of the top of the cake right before serving and allow to dribble down the sides. Top with yogurt mousse, garnish tops of cakes with chopped pistachios, and enjoy!


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