Bored Cook In The Kitchen

Tried and true recipes, new twists on old favorites, and new dishes to expand my family's palate.

Pistachio Cake


I call it Pistachio Cake while the masses call it “Watergate Cake”.  You can do a search online and find it pretty much everywhere, mostly the same recipe, sometimes with a little twist, but nothing too far off the original.  Was there even an original?  Did it really begin during Watergate?  Haven’t researched it but if anyone knows shout it out.  I’m curious to know.

I love this cake because of how simple it is to throw together, how moist it turns out and mostly because if you are a fan of Friendly’s Pistachio Ice Cream, you will love this cake!  To me it tastes just like a bowl of that ice cream.

Here is what I did different from the recipe I originally had for this:

  1. The recipe calls for a “White” boxed cake mix.  The reason?  Because the white cake mix grabs the green color of the pistachio pudding  you add to the cake mix, making it a pretty shade of green upon presentation.  Me, I prefer Vanilla cake mix because it has more flavor so that’s what I use.  I’m not overly concerned with the color being a beautiful green since I’m not planning on inviting leprechaun’s over for dessert. 
  2. The recipes you find online sometimes call for chopped walnuts or pecans.  Here is my beef with that.  The pudding has bits of chopped pistachios in the mix already, and the cake is a pistachio cake.  I would either add chopped pistachios or add chopped cashews, but not sure I would like it as much with the walnuts or pecans. 
  3. I add some coconut to both the frosting and the cake.  I just prefer it, but you can just as easily leave it out and not worry about it effecting the cake.
  4. The recipe I had called to bake this in a Bundt cake pan, but I prefer it in a 9″ x 13″ pan.
  5. I don’t frost the cake after I bake it.  It’s a very moist cake and the frosting tends to make it a little wet if you don’t eat it right away.  So I bake the cake, make the frosting, cover it and leave in the fridge.  Everyone frosts their own piece when they eat it.  The other benefit to this is that my daughter normally prefers her cake without frosting, so this way she won’t have to scrape the frosting off the cake. 

Here’s the recipe I made. 

Pistachio Cake:

  • 1 Box Vanilla (or white) Cake Mix (I used Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe)
  • (1) 3 oz.pkg Instant Pistachio Pudding
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Sweetened & Shredded Coconut (*optional)
  • 1 Cup Soda (Sprite, 7-Up or Mountain Dew)
  • 1 Cup Canola Oil

Pistachio Frosting:

  • (1) 3 oz. Package Pistachio Instant Frosting
  • 2 Cups Cool Whip thawed in the fridge
  • 1 Cup Cold Milk (I used 1%)
  • 1/4 Cup Sweetened and Shredded Coconut (*optional)
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Pistachios or Cashews to sprinkle over the top (*optional)

Mix all cake  ingredients together well and pour into a greased 9″ x 13″ baking dish.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, checking after 25 minutes to see how it looks.  The outside of the cake does get browner than the cake would be if you were just making the regular boxed version, so don’t be concerned.  If  after 25 minutes you see the cake getting too brown you can turn the oven to 325 degrees and cook until done.

Once done allow cake to rest for 5 minutes and then turn out on a dish and allow to cool completely. 

For the frosting, mix Cool Whip, Milk, dry pudding mix, and coconut together until completely combined.  Cover and place in the fridge.

Once the cake is cooled completely you can frost it with the pistachio frosting, or do like I do and leave the frosting in the fridge and the cake plain and just add to each piece when you are ready to eat.  Top the cake and frosting with the chopped nuts if desired.

Enjoy!

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One response to “Pistachio Cake

  1. Joni August 9, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    Very good sounding cake, honey! I am going to try this soon! Quick but yummy! I love that!

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