Chocolate Ganache and Pistachio Creme Brulee… Two Ways

I made some chocolate and buttermilk cupcakes for a party last week. I had some cupcakes leftover that were not iced so I decided to play around with them. I wanted to use chocolate and pistachio flavors but build different kinds of cakes. If I were as witty and clever as Cakespy, I would have a petit gateau and a cupcake faceoff. (Hey Jessie, are you up for it?)…. Unfortunately, I’m not that funny so it would turn out to be pretty silly. But I did want to play around with different looks. The petits gateaux look a bit more European, but the cupcakes are fun with the buttercream swirls.

First of all, I decided that I wanted a creamy center and a crunchy exterior so I went for a creme brulee custard that I flavored with pistachio paste and baked in mini muffin silicon pans. Then I made a very, very rich chocolate ganache with 70% chocolate that I used inside and to cover the outside of the mini cakes. For the cupcakes, I used buttercream with pistachio paste. To finish both of them, I added some chopped salted pistachios which really make a big difference. The contrast between the rich chocolate and the salted pistachios is what makes this cake in my opinion. I will briefly describe how I built each one and the recipes will follow at the end.

Chocolate Pistachio Cupcakes

With a 1 1/2-inch diameter cookie cutter, cut out a circle of cake out of the top of the cupcake. Insert the frozen pistachio creme brulee disk. Top with a little bit of chocolate ganache and place the cutout piece of cake back on top. Press down gently.

Place the pistachio buttercream in a pastry bag fitted with a number 8 plain pastry tip. Pipe the buttercream on top of the cupcake making large swirls. Top with a generous amount of chopped salted pistachios.

Chocolate and Pistachio Petits Gateaux

Remove the cupcake from the baking paper. Using a cookie cutter, make a perfect cylinder and then cut the little cake into three layers horizontally. Place the first layer down, spread a thin layer of chocolate ganache on top, place a frozen disk of creme brulee on top, top with another disk of cake, more ganache, another layer of creme brulee and finish with the last layer of cake. Press down gently.

Hold the cake down gently and with a small offset spatula, ice the sides and top of the cake with ganache. Press the chopped pistachios into the sides and top of the cakes.

Here are the recipes for the different components…

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes

makes about 30 cupcakes

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda

In an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, brown sugar with the paddle attachment. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the melted chocolate and mix until well incorporated. Scrape the bowl. Add the vanilla and half of the buttermilk. Add the flour and baking soda, mix and finish with the remainder of the buttermilk. Mix until well incorporated. Scoop into baking cups and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Chocolate Ganache

100 grams heavy cream
100 grams 70% chocolate, finely chopped

Bring the heavy cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Mix slowly starting from the center until all incorporated and creamy. Let it cool.

Pistachio Creme Brulee

1 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
25 grams sugar
35 grams pistachio paste

Whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar and the pistachio paste. Slowly add the heavy cream and whisk. Strain through a fine sieve to eliminate any egg particles or pistachio chunks.

Pour into a mini muffin silicon pan that is on top of a sheetpan, about half an inch high. Add hot water to the pan and bake in a 300 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until center set. Drain water from the pan and place it in the freezer until the brulees harden.

Pistachio Buttercream

50 grams egg whites
100 grams sugar
150 grams butter
50 grams pistachio paste

Mix the egg whites and the sugar and place them over a double boiler while you whisk them together. The sugar will start to dissolve and the egg whites will start to turn white and fluffy. Continue whisking until the egg whites feel hot to the touch.Transfer the bowl to the electric mixer and whip in high speed until light and fluffy and the bottom of the bowl doesn’t feel hot anymore. About 3-5 minutes.Start adding the softened butter by the tablespoon. Keep adding more butter as it is incorporated into the meringue. It might look like it is curdling but don’t worry, keep mixing. When is well mixed, add the pistachio paste.

The layer of creme brulee inside is so thin that it will thaw out in no time. Serve both the cupcakes and the petits gateaux at room temperature.

Post Script…. this photo describes it all.

Some mornings I wake up and I wonder if this little blog of mine has any meaning. I love my little blog. I treasure the time I devote to it everyday by thinking about what ingredients are available, what I am going to make with them, how I will photograph them. It really has changed my life. But at the same time, I wonder if this isn’t a bit too indulgent. The last few days I have been really thinking about it after reading this, this, this and in this one, Nadia expresses what I am feeling right now. I’m still trying to figure out how to create through food without the guilt that comes with it.

Thank you for reading…

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54 Responses to “Chocolate Ganache and Pistachio Creme Brulee… Two Ways”

  1. ooishigal says:

    Seems to be really délicieux!!

  2. Nadia says:

    Aran, Just saying Chocolate Ganache and Pistachio Creme Brulee makes my day brighter. the balance you have on your blog is perfect. Yes it is true one should ask themselves such questions once and a while, but one should also be told ” what you do is wonderful Aran and how you do it is extraordinary” it is heart surgery of a different kind.

  3. Esti says:

    Es un privilegio hacer lo que más te gusta; hay que disfrutar de la vida, cada uno a su manera. Si lo que haces te trae felicidad, le das al mundo una persona feliz, una sonrisa. La calle está llena de gente que sonríe poco :)

  4. Y says:

    Yes, it’s indulgent. But isn’t that what’s so wonderful about it? Life is short. I think our days should be filled doing what makes us most happy. I’ve always viewed food as a celebration. Okay, some have more than others but it’s what we do with it that counts. I love your blog. It’s beautiful, but it also has so much soul and a conscience. One day I would like to meet you and shake your hand to thank you for sharing it :)

  5. M says:

    Pistachio and chocolate together is just ace! Your cupcakes and gateaux are mouthwatering!

    Please know your blog is a huge inspiration for me. In my opinion, it is one of the best food blogs and defintely my favorite. Even if I dont comment on each post, do know I read all of them.

  6. Aran says:

    Ooishigal- merci

    Nadia- what can I say to you that I haven’t said before? you make me happy.

    Esti- eskerrik asko… hori behar nuen.

    Y- thank you… yes, you are right. life is short. i send you big hugs from over here.

    M- thank you for reading. i appreciate it all your kind words.

  7. This world would be very dull indeed if we all neglected our own special passions and pulls. Over-indulgence indicates something excessive and selfish- how can that be when you are sharing so much?

  8. Aran says:

    Cicada Studio- Thank you for your kind words. Yes, you are right. Passion is what drives the world so we should never lose it.

  9. tumbleweed says:

    your blog has me reaching for a napkin and a spoon…

  10. Alfie says:

    What a brilliant idea to make the petits gateaux out of cupcakes. They look so pretty!

  11. Ginny says:

    Love them both! How creative and delicious! Thank you for the leading me to these other blogs in the ps…I definitely understand this feel!

  12. francesca says:

    your blog is so beautiful, you share professional recipes presented as masterpieces; your blog is like a therapy.
    I have always worked in the field of art,thinking that I was doing useless things for the world. Then I realized that wasn’t true because lots of my clients say that the world would be even worse without the joy of beautiful things.

  13. i feel the same way about mine!
    lovely blog… those cupcakes look divine!

  14. Lovely ideas, as always. I found I had to slow down and remember I liked to cook and bake before I started the blog. I found I was doing too many things “for the blog” and not for real life!

  15. C.L. says:

    I do totally understand what you are saying, along with the other beautiful posts you led me to. This is my feeling…We read the paper, watch the news, worry, do what we can, pray if we believe, and share our joy and life so that others might feel that ray of hope, that rush of excitement from completing something beautiful and delicious, laugh with you in your mistakes, or pray with you in your fears and hard times. That is why I share and why I will try and keep it going. I think it is important to have light in our day and your beautiful pictures, delectable recipes, and thoughtful insight brings light to my day every morning. Thank you for that :)


  16. C.L. says:

    Oh yeah, and I am yet again going to HAVE to make this. It looks too good…creamy, crunchy, chocolatey, delicious!

  17. Wow those both look delightful. On the thought of over-indulgence, I have the same thought from time to time. Perhaps this is just me being overly optimistic (in a Marie Antoinette kind of way), but I honestly believe that food makes the world a better place. Reading your entry put a smile on my face, which has to count for something right?

    I also think that food can close the gap across different cultures and generations. It’s a way for people to come together and enjoy a common bond, realizing that perhaps we’re not so different after-all.

  18. Cakelaw says:

    Aran, Food is indeed a celebration of life – nothing to feel guilty about. It enriches the lives of all of us, and you do more than your share by choosing to share your creations and thoughts. Your blog is beautiful, and the fact that it brings joy to others is justification enough.

  19. linda says:

    These are just too good! Love them both. And love the idea of using salted pistachio’s…will try it out myself.

  20. alyson. says:

    wow… hello pistachio cupcakes!

    thanks for stopping by my blogs. I know you said you’ve got your graphics under control, but if you ever need anything, let me know!!

    I’ll be back… drooling on my keyboard I suppose. :)

  21. corine says:

    Connecting with strangers, inspiring them, sharing one’s passion, creating beauty, all contribute to making the world a kinder and more beautiful place.

    Also you are so talented that you have a moral obligation to blog about it! ; D

  22. stacy says:

    This looks incredibly delicious.

  23. Tartelette says:

    We are not in control of what appens in other country…but we are in control of adhering to bad food practices. I don’t think you and I would buy knowing that somebody died to harvest it or sell it. The best we can do with the skills we are given is to do things with a conscience and open eyes. If it makes you feel in tune with food and the world around, post also about your thoughts and other article you read on the topic.
    The gateaux look wonderful! Creme brulee layer has always been my wow little helper when baking for others, so I am certainly all ovet those!!

  24. Tartelette says:

    ps: I just picked two bags full of blackberries from behind our house so as to contribute my little part to the great food chain!

  25. Aran these look amazing, chocolate and nuts are the perfect combination.

    And I think about these things too sometimes, we all make our own contribution no matter how small it is and you’re is just as valuable and cherished as the next

  26. Wow, that looks amazing! I like the crumbled pistachios on top!

  27. Gloria says:

    Oh Aran! I was thinking this too, but the Blog make me so happy really and make happy to other people, yes I feel divided sometimes and I like to give food all the people really!! But Passionate is the word better describe that I feel, and you are passionate too dear.
    I like that Marc say I feel the word may be better with the food. And is not only the food is the love that we have each other, a lot of things that we learn of the others etc.Maybe we will be always divided, but sometimes we have to choose and really I think you are an artist and God give you this!!!Dear we have to live with these things I think xxxxa big hug, Gloria Love so you are sensible!!)

  28. BB says:

    I would second a lot of these comments–and I hope the big response was some consolation. I would only add that treating food the way you treat food, and making these beautiful and undoubtedly shockingly good (the kind of shock that changes bodies for the better) creations, is sound politics in itself. It’s honestly the American culture of excess and the lack of any sense of proportion (Emeril Lagasse) that betrays more bad faith for the global perspective. Your work is a gift to us, and your blog is part of that work!

  29. Bridget says:

    Aran…your blog is definitely an inspiration to me! I would have never knwon about chocolate sandwiches without you!!! :)

    Those cupcakes look SO good! You are beyaond talented!

  30. Food feds not only the body but the soul. Your food not only feeds but inspires. Please, no guilt. Food and blogging are indulgents that are meant to share. So that’s my two cent!

  31. I agree with all the readers…your blog brightens my day everytime I read it and that has to count for something! You are bringing joy to a lot of people in such a fun, creative, and passionate way! Your post challenge me and inspire me everyday and I am so thank for it! You are using the talents God has given you and blessing people with it and that is a fantastic thing!
    P.S. Both of these desserts I think are on the top favorites my mine!

  32. Peabody says:

    The one rolled in pistachios is especially darling.

  33. Aran says:

    Thank you all of you who took the time to read this blog and then share your thoughts about the issue. You are right. This might be a bit indulgent at times when compared to things that are going on around the world, but it’s necessary for me, makes me happy therefore makes me a better person. I think I am always very conscientious about not wasting, buying local and organic when possible, I even try to educate those around me about it, so I suppose that counts for something.

    Something we just need a little self check to make sure we are running on clean fuel and energy, right? I think that is what that post script was about. I needed reassurance.

    Off to camping! Have a great weekend everyone!

  34. Veron says:

    Your cupcakes are adorable. i can just imagine how everything taste especially with that creme brulee layer.
    Aran, many times I’ve wondered about blogging too, but it has fueled my passion for food and it gave my hubby direction in his photography interest. Your pictures are beautiful and your posts are a joy to read. Take pride in that. :)

  35. When you get back, can you please tell me more about pistachio paste? Is it something that you buy or that you make?

    I’ve never heard of it before.

  36. Aran says:

    Hi Dana! I’m still here… haven’t left yet.

    I buy my pistachio paste from L’ but you can make it yourself. take some roasted pistachios and place them in a food processor with a little bit of sugar. Grind them until they turn into a paste. The stuff I buy is super smooth and has a little bit of hazelnut oil mixed into it (and some soy lecithin) but I have made the paste at home before it works just fine.

    I do that with hazelnuts too. It’s almost like making peanut butter.

    Thank you for your question. I know a lot of people are wondering the same thing.

    Have a good weekend.

  37. Gloria says:

    Dear Aran take a time and relax dear. Sometimes we work with a lot of pressure. Think how you we want to be better persons, but mix all is the difficult. xxxGloria

  38. Cakespy says:

    Your little blog as you call it has HUGE Meaning! It’s adding some well-deserved sweetness to your day and to all of your readers. :-)

    And–holy ridiculous beauty and deliciousness, Batman! And really, there’s no faceoff here–it’s just different, but equal, kinds of beauty. xoxo

  39. Candace says:

    How fabulously beautiful! Love them both.

    And yes, what you do is indulgent, but you CLEARLY love baking and blogging. I see absolutely nothing wrong with it! Please keep on bloggin’ your beautiful things.

  40. Mrs.French says:

    Oh my, your post script makes me sad. Don’t you realize how important you, your blog, and your sweet baking skills are? They provide light and joy to a sometimes dark world.
    As tenants on this planet of ours, it is our responsibility to be informed and act in a humanistic way. But as far as this blog and your skills go…I look to you and other bloggers as sweet bits of hope, when at times it can all be so sad and hopeless. You have more meaning than you know…at least to me.

  41. Stef says:

    Your cupcake is sensational! I love the idea of a creme brule filling. mmmmmm

  42. marjlet says:

    the pistacchio is a peace of italy! :)Your blog is adorable!
    by sicily ;) (italy)

  43. Anonymous says:

    the only guilt, if any, you should feel is that only a select few of us are priveledged enough to taste the incredible creations you bake!

  44. Pistachio paste is the most incredible thing. Lovely use of it.

    Beauty is very important in life. It helps to balance our lives and awaken our senses. We need it.

  45. PheMom says:

    I know just what you mean. I’ve been feeling the same way lately. Then, I keep reading how much this is really needed too and makes the world a better place to be in. I have a little idea I’ve been kicking around though. I’ll probably email you about it and see what you think.

    I also wanted to let you know I’ve given you an award. Go check it out on my blog (and a giveaway too!)

  46. Bakerette says:

    You told ME to blog because it gives me satisfaction. I do think you’re giving to others by sharing your stories, recipes and experiences. You definately made a difference with me. As for giving back to help others in need, I think we can all find a way to do that, if we just look around us. Keep blogging on :)

  47. oh how delicious!

    i think it would be strange not to wonder if we aren’t too indulgent…i know i do, also. as an american, i still have sticker shock seeing the cost of food here in australia. at the same time, i’ve read that australians (and americans do, too) throw out about a quarter of the nation’s food supply. so much waste when there are so many who can’t even afford to feed their families. like you, i do my best to buy and eat responsibly. it is the best i can do, but i can’t help feeling like it doesn’t solve anything…

  48. Thanks for the intel about pistachio paste!

  49. Aran, I’ve been busy and not sharing the love so to speak, but I’m trying to get back in the saddle again and I wanted to visit my favorite and most talented blogger, you. In these sometimes dark times, we all need mindful, talented and creative people to inspire us to do better. You most certainly do that. Keep up the good work.

  50. Rebecca says:

    Do you have measurement equivalents for grams, or is there somewhere I might be able to find this. I don’t know how to measure 25 grams of sugar. Thanks so much.

  51. Aran, hi!
    Did you use any pan or tart ring to assemble Petits Gateaux? I assembled without any form, and
    there were two problems: chocolate ganache was too liquid; creme brulee thawed out in no time and didn’t hold the form. And so they poured out and didn’t stay as a separate layers. Why so? And what should do?

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