One of my all-time favorites and also one of the first things I ever made when I started my baking journey is this Pistachio Cheese Loaf. Pair with Rum-Spiked Hot Chocolate for a treat!
Before I ever thought about starting a blog, I was an ardent collector of Yummy Magazine. You can probably imagine how long ago this was, considering Yummy Magazine had converted to digital many years ago. If I’m going to be honest, this magazine played a pretty big part in developing my interest in baking, but that’s a story for another time.
See, it was actually in the pages of one of the magazine’s old issues that I stumbled upon this Pistachio Cheese Loaf recipe by Karen Young.
It was a delicious looking recipe on paper, considering the ingredients list of pistachios and cream cheese, plus cherries to boot. They felt like special ingredients to me at the time. Expensive ingredients too, from the perspective of a teen with limited allowance lol. But I did get my parents to acquire them for me!
And now that I’m looking back on that moment, I’m wondering where the kid who used to bake without pressure had gone. These days, a lot of my kitchen failures end up gutting me because I feel bad about wasting ingredients! (I miss the days when I didn’t think too much about anything, to be honest.)
To be fair, I had a lot of confidence in Yummy Mag‘s recipes, because each recipe I tried even with my level of inexperience at that time came out pretty good. This Pistachio Cheese Loaf was no different– in fact, it became an instant household favorite. After we wolfed down the loaf that I baked, my mom went to the store to buy more pistachios and cream cheese, and asked me to make more loaves for relatives as a Christmas present.
(Gosh that feels like a century ago. These days you can just order all these things online no problem.)
Anyway, I realized I had never shared this recipe on the blog before, which is shocking to me considering how much I claim that it’s an all-time favorite. The least it deserves is a video, let’s be real. The cake is firm rather than fluffy, but tender nonetheless, and its got this delicious richness thanks to the cream cheese. Add in the glorious pistachio flavors and occasional hits of maraschino cherry and you’ve got yourself a legit treat!
This cake is even better the day after. Wrap airtight and store in the fridge before serving, if you can wait. I hope when you decide to try it, you’ll love it as much as we do around here.
Oh and just for fun, I decided to pair it with a Rum-Spiked Hot Chocolate, which is superb on its own but also really great with a slice of this Pistachio Cheese Loaf.
There isn’t really much to say about this recipe because it’s pretty easy and straightforward, but I do have a handful of recipe notes that might be of help in ensuring the success of this loaf cake:
- I do not recommend any ingredient swaps because it will change the flavors of the loaf fundamentally. (I mean if you swap the nuts for another it won’t be a pistachio loaf any more, would it?)
- Use toasted pistachios for best flavor. I find that raw pistachios do not quite have the same intensity in flavor compared to pistachios I purposefully toasted before chopping up. Not only will the flavor be better, it’ll also be crunchier in side the loaf cake.
- Avoid mixing the batter more than you need to. I always say this in almost every cake recipe. Working the flour too much makes the batter develop more gluten than necessary, resulting in tougher cakes. We want this cake to remain moist and tender, so try not to mix the batter way too much.
- Use as much or as little cherries as you’d like. If there’s one concession I will make for those who like to “change things up”, it would be concerning the cherries. I would say that the cherries aren’t that big of a deal to omit, though they do make the loaf cake look prettier, plus a cherry on top never hurt anyone right?
- This cake tastes even better the day after. It’s one of those cakes that develop more flavor over time, so I suggest resisting the urge to finish the entire loaf right away!
Pistachio Cheese Loaf
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ bar (113 grams or 4 ounces) cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ⅓ cup toasted pistachio nuts, chopped, plus more for topping
- Maraschino cherries, as many as you like, halved for topping
- Preheat oven to 325ºF (170ºC). Line an 8- or 9-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, making sure to leave parchment overhangs on either side to make unmolding easier later on.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside for a moment.
- In a separate large bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and cream for about 3 minutes (using a machine or by hand) until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
- Gradually fold in the dry ingredients just until combined. Finally, fold in the pistachios just until distributed into the batter. Avoid over-working the batter.
- Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Spread evenly and smooth the top. Garnish with maraschino cherries and more pistachios in desired amount and design, pressing gently to embed toppings partly into batter.
- Bake for 30 to 32 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool inside the pan for 10 minutes, then use the parchment handles to remove the cake from the loaf pan and transfer to a cooling rack.
- Leave to cool completely before slicing. Serve with a hot cup of Rum-Spiked Hot Chocolate (recipe below).
- Do not be alarmed by the rum in this drink. The rum adds a really nice depth and extra flavor notes to the hot chocolate, but it’s not enough to make you feel even a little drunk. Give it a try!
- Use good cocoa powder for best flavor. It doesn’t have to be overly expensive cocoa powder but make sure to choose one that’s as good for drinking as it is for baking.
Rum-Spiked Hot Chocolate
- 2 cups milk of choice
- 4 Tablespoons dark chocolate chunks
- 2 Tablespoons
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean extract
- 2 Tablespoons rum or spiced rum
- 3 to 4 large marshmallows, to serve (optional)
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, to dust (optional)
- In a medium-sized saucepan over high heat, bring milk, chocolate chips, cocoa, sugar and vanilla to a simmer. Whisk occasionally to melt the chocolate and create a little froth.
- Once the mixture is smooth and steam is coming off the surface, remove from heat and whisk in the rum.
- Pour hot chocolate into serving mugs. Top with marshmallows and dust with cocoa powder. Serve hot and enjoy with Pistachio Cheese Loaf (recipe above).
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