Chocolate Pistachio Layer Cake

Layer cakes are fun to make and even more fun to eat and we love this dark chocolate-pistachio combination. This dark chocolate cake, made with dark chocolate chips, is rich and moist, and the creamy pistachio buttercream with real pistachio butter, gives a slightly salty and nutty hint to offset the sweetness of the frosting. We topped the outer edge of the cake with chopped toasted (unsalted) pistachios for a fun accent and even more pistachio flavor! It’s a chocolate cake lover’s dream!

We’ve made pistachio buttercream frosting before with pistachio pudding mix as the flavoring, but this time we used Gusto Pistachio Butter and we love it! You don’t get the vibrant green color that you get from the pudding mix, but the flavor is amazing! The pistachio butter has little tiny bits of finely chopped pistachios, so you get a real, true pistachio flavor. In addition to the chopped toasted pistachios on top of the cake, dark chocolate shavings would be both pretty and delicious!

For this two layer cake, we cut off the rounded tops of the cakes after they cooled and then inverted the top layer in order to have a beautifully flat surface on top. This is an easy way to get a symmetrical cake. So often, the cake has big mounds in the middle of the layers, making it a little harder to stack and frost them. Any trick we can find to make the cakes look pretty … we’ll take it!

To make your life easier, both the cake and the frosting can be made ahead of time. You can wrap the cake layers in plastic wrap and freeze them for several weeks and you can make the frosting several days ahead of time and store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Just be sure to bring the frosting to room temp before you attempt to frost the cake!

We hope you love this cake as much as we do!

Chocolate Pistachio Layer Cake with Pistachio Buttercream Frosting

Dark, luscious layer cake with pistachio buttercream filling and frosting, topped with toasted pistachios.
Servings 10 Servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Decorating and Frosting the Cake 30 minutes


  • 2 8-inch cake pans
  • 1 cake spinner
  • 1 off-set spatula


Dark Chocolate Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. powdered espresso or coffee powder
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 cup canola oil (or your preferred vegetable oil)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Pistachio Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (equivalent to 2 sticks or 8 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup pistachio butter (available on Amazon or at your local grocer)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 2-4 tbsp. whipping cream (can also use milk or half and half)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract


Dark Chocolate Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350℉.
  • Prepare two 8-inch cake pans, by lining the bottoms with parchment, cut out to fit the bottom of the pan. Spray the paper and the sides with cooking spray.
  • Place all dries in a large mixing bowl and blend with a wire whisk.
  • In a large measuring cup, or small bowl, mix water, oil, vanilla and add to the dries, mixing until well integrated with a wooden spoon or wire whisk.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, and sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the top of each pan.
  • Bake cake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cake looks solid in the middle and springs back when you press in the center with your finger. Note – a cake tester doesn’t work well for this cake due to the melted chocolate chips in the middle of the cake.
  • Remove cake from oven and cool for about 15 minutes. Once the layers are cool enough to handle, remove them from the pans and continue to cool completely on a wire cake rack.
  • At this point, you can freeze the layers in plastic wrap and foil for frosting at a later point in time, or frost right away.
  • To assemble the cake, slice off the rounded tops of each of the layers. Save this for snitching when you need a good chocolate fix.
    Treks IMG 6966
  • Place one layer, bottom side down on your cake plate. Spread the top of that layer with 1/4 of the buttercream frosting.
    Treks IMG 6968
  • Lay the second lay on top of the frosting upside down, so you have a smooth top to the cake. Continue to frost the cake on the top and sides and smooth out with an offset spatula. Using a cake spinner, just hold the spatula firmly against the side of the cake and spin slowly.
    Treks IMG 6972
  • Arrange chopped toasted pistachios over the outside top edge of the cake. Add dark chocolate shavings to the center of the top of the cake if you like more decorations and more chocolate.

Pistachio Buttercream Frosting

  • Sift powdered sugar with salt and cream of tartar and set aside in a small bowl.
  • Beat butter in the bowl of your standing mixer, or with handheld beaters until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla flavoring and pistachio butter and continue to beat until well blended. Slowly add sugar, a little at a time, alternately with cream. Adjust the amount of cream or powdered sugar to get to desired spreading consistency.
  • Frosting can also be made ahead of time and refrigerated in an air-tight container until you’re ready to assemble the cake. Be sure to bring frosting up to room temp before trying to frosting the cake!
Course: Dessert
Keyword: buttercream frosting, dark chocolate, pistachio buttercream, pistachio cake
Treks IMG 0670

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