Today’s Recipe: Pistachio Melon Cake

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We first published this recipe a year ago and it received a lot of attention. This recipe, as it is written (continued below), with the ingredients listed, is how we invented it. And how we tested it. If we had tested substitutions and found that they worked, we would have included that information. If you have allergies or dislikes, you need to test them yourself. We take great pride in our recipes, making them over and over again until they’re perfect. For that reason, we can’t recommend substitutions unless they go through the rigors of our test-kitchen protocol— given the number of dislikes and allergies people have, we’d never get a recipe finished. And eaten:) Please don’t ask about substitutions; get brave instead. Put your creative apron on and let our other readers know how it turned out with the substitutions you chose. And by the way, we will never publish a recipe that didn’t work for us. If it fails for you, something was different. Our recipes are tested over and over until we’re sure that if you follow our directions exactly and use the ingredients we list, you’ll be successful. My DIL Ashley, our food guru, has put together a list of FAQs for this recipe. Find it here. Come back next week for a coconut-free and nut-free watermelon cake.

 

PISTACHIO MELON CAKE WITH COCONUT FROSTING
PREP TIME: 45 MINUTES, PLUS 2 HOURS CHILLING
MAKES: 8 SERVINGS

2    ¾” thick slices watermelon (seedless)
1    ¾” thick slice cantaloupe
1    ¾” thick slice honeydew
4    13.5 oz cans coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
We used Native Forest full-fat (not low-fat) Organic Coconut Milk that gave us approx. half a can of cream from each can (that have been refrigerated overnight to firm up the cream), just like in the how-to photos. Please take a minute to look through them!
¾   cup powdered sugar
½   t almond extract
¾   cup pistachios, shelled and chopped
½   cup blueberries

1. Stack all of the melon slices on top of each other, and cut inside the rind of the smallest round, creating four pieces of melon that are uniform in size.
2. Remove the seeds from the cantaloupe and honeydew. Set melon slices aside.
3. Scoop the coconut cream off the top of the cans of coconut milk (discard milk from the bottom of the cans or use in soups or other recipes) and place in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, mix until smooth.
4. Add powdered sugar and almond extract; mix until smooth.
5. Pat a slice of watermelon dry with a paper towel and place on a serving plate. Add a generous layer of coconut frosting. Pat cantaloupe dry and add to cake, add another generous layer of frosting, pat honeydew dry and add to cake.
6. In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup pistachios and ¾ cup coconut frosting. Use it to fill in the center of the cantaloupe and honeydew.
7. Add another generous layer of frosting. Pat the final slice of watermelon dry and add to the top of the cake.
8. Frost the entire cake and garnish with remaining pistachios and blueberries. Chill for 2 hours before serving.

Gather ingredients.

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Stack two ¾” thick slices of watermelon, one ¾” thick slice of cantaloupe, and one ¾” thick slice of honeydew on top of each other, and cut inside the rind of the smallest round, creating four pieces of melon that are uniform in size.

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Remove the seeds from the cantaloupe and honeydew. Set melon slices aside.

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Scoop the coconut cream off the top of four 13.5 oz cans of coconut milk (that have been refrigerated overnight to firm up the cream) and place in a medium bowl (discard milk from the bottom of the cans or use in soups or other recipes). Using an electric mixer, mix until smooth.

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Add ¾ cup powdered sugar.

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Mix until smooth.

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Add ½ t almond extract. Mix until smooth.

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Pat a slice of watermelon dry with a paper towel and place on a serving plate.

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Add a generous layer of coconut frosting.

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Pat cantaloupe dry and add to cake, add another generous layer of frosting.

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Pat honeydew dry and add to cake.

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Add ¼ cup shelled and chopped pistachios to a small bowl. Add ¾ cup coconut frosting; stir to combine.

growing_jane-melon_cake-6368Use it to fill in the center of the cantaloupe and honeydew.

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Add another generous layer of frosting. Pat the final slice of watermelon dry and add to the top of the cake.

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Frost the entire cake.

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Garnish with remaining ½ cup shelled and chopped pistachios and ½ cup blueberries. Chill for 2 hours before serving.

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For more awesome recipes like this one, try my newly-released cookbook, Milk Cow Kitchen, or my magazine, MaryJanesFarm, now in its 13th year! Thank you for visiting my blog!
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Leave a comment 468 Comments

  1. Rashieda says:

    I live in the humid south and used 1.5lbs of powdered sugar and the icing never stiffened up. The fruit was too wet even after patting dry. However the flavors are incredible together. I ended up making a fruit salad instead.

    • MaryJane says:

      Here’s what my DIL, MaryJanesFarm food guru had to say:
      If the cream gets warm, it will liquefy. While this recipe was developed in the heat of the summer, the humidity in Northern Idaho is no match for the humid south. I would suggest whipping the cream and refrigerating it to keep it firm before frosting the cake. While the powdered sugar in the recipe adds some stability to the cream, its main purpose is to sweeten the frosting. Please take a moment to look through the how-to photos. You will see that the coconut cream is semi-solid when it is scooped out of the cans, and that it has body after being whipped, even before the powdered sugar is added. If anything, I would imagine adding a lot of powdered sugar would make the frosting viscous, creating an icing rather than a thick, creamy frosting.

  2. Teresa Ferreira says:

    This is so beautiful and different, I will make it for a party this weekend. Thank you.

  3. Chris Lovell says:

    This looks so very good and refreshing for a Summertime Cake. I wonder if there is something easier you could use to cut the outer sides off the mellons besides cutting “freestyle”?
    I am looking forward to making this great cake. Thank You for your wonderful instructions, pictures included. If all instructions were this great it would make a lot of baking more fun and easy

  4. mary says:

    Nice for all the cookouts we have

  5. MaryJane says:

    I’ve seen a lot of comments from people concerned that the fruit is too wet for the cake to stay together, or that it will release too much water after sitting in the refrigerator. Sunday evening, I made a small melon cake, and had a slice out of it. I left the rest of the cake in my refrigerator, uncovered for the last 3 days. It is still standing, and has not released moisture. The melons are actually looking a little dry where I cut my slice, and the nuts in the center have softened from sitting in the coconut cream.

  6. OMG! This recipe is awesome and I love your blog Mary Jane! Thank you! Jilly

  7. Susan Becker says:

    I want to leave the powdered sugar out in favor of an artificial sweetener. Will the topping still hold up? I know that powdered sugar is used as a stabilizer. Can I stabilize with gelatin if needed?

    • MaryJane says:

      Here’s what my DIL Ashley (MaryJanesFarm food guru) had to say:
      Since we only tested this recipe with powdered sugar, I can only speculate, but the coconut cream has a fair amount of body on it’s own. As long as it is a moderate amount of sweetener, it should be fine. If it seems too thin or loose, a little cornstarch might do the trick. We didn’t test stabilizing with gelatin, so I don’t know if that will work.

  8. Teresa Bland says:

    THIS CAKE LOOKS SO DELICIOUS & I HAVE GOT TO TRY IT

  9. Valerie says:

    This looks fabulous. However, I can’t get it to print. I even tried the copy/paste trick, but my word processing program said it was too large to paste. Any suggestions? I’d hand copy, but I want the pictures. Thanks

  10. Susan Becker says:

    To Joanne

    About xylitol–specifically birch xylitol…are you sure about that? I’m on the Fast Metabolism diet and we’re allowed birch xylitol. The author is an animal nutritionist.

  11. lissette cruz says:

    This looks delicious! !! I will do this

  12. Goreatha says:

    This is awesome recipe thanks for sharing it I will try it and let you know for the fourth of july.

  13. Dana says:

    We made this as a birthday cake for my sisters birthday. We had a really hard time thickening the frosting. We tried putting it in the freezer for some time, and that helped for a few minutes.. then it got runny again. It didn’t matter tho.. it was ugly outside.. pretty inside… but tasted OH SO GOOD.. I’m telling you…. heaven in your mouth! I’m going to cube the melon, and mix everything else together to make a fruit salad for a 4th of July party later this week I can’t wait!

    • MaryJane says:

      Every time we hear of someone having problems, we make it yet another time. It works every time. How about we pay you a visit and watch you make it so we can figure out where it went wrong? (Just kidding.) The flavor is incredible though. Glad you liked it.

  14. chriss1 says:

    This recipe did not work for me. I followed it to a T, and it didn’t stay together. The icing would not stick to the fruit at all. I dried it and dried it, and it wouldn’t stay on. It kept falling apart. I had to use skewers to keep it together and then I couldn’t ice the outside. Any suggestions? Did I do something wrong? It was so yummy though so I want it to look as nice as it tastes.

    • MaryJane says:

      Here’s what my DIL Ashley (MaryJanesFarm food guru) had to say:
      I’m sorry to hear that you had problems with it. We want everyone to have good experiences with our recipes. We’ve re-made it several times to make sure it works, and it’s worked every time for us. There may be some geographical circumstances that we’re not able to replicate in our test kitchen. Was the consistency of your frosting similar to whipped cream? It should be like whipped cream, but slightly heavier, so it can stand up to the weight of the fruit slices. Just to double check, did you refrigerate the cans of full-fat coconut milk and use only the cream for the frosting? How thick were your melon slices, and were they even cuts? Were the melon slices pushing the frosting out when you stacked them? I’d really love to help you figure out what went wrong, so any information you can give would be helpful, pictures are always great too. Feel free to email me: ashley@maryjanesfarm.org

  15. MaryJane says:

    For those of you that have had trouble with the frosting, my DIL Ashley (MaryJanesFarm food guru) has posted a couple of photos of what the coconut cream looks like after the initial whipping, and after the powdered sugar is added. Take a look: http://www.maryjanesfarm.org/snitz/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=66547

    • JJ says:

      That’s very helpful, thanks. your step-by-steps are amazing. I only used 2 cans of coconut milk so I didn’t expect to get as much frosting, but I am having trouble with it being all watery… I am going to try putting it back in the fridge since it’s 75 degrees today and I think maybe it is melty from that? So i’ll try! I was going to make it without sugar, but then didn’t dare due to consistency but an early comment you posted from Ashley mentioned that it should really have the body to it before adding sugar… I will keep trying! appreciate all you guys do to check things out and see that it works right. I just have to figure out what I need to do…

  16. Connie Kapferer says:

    This is a great idea. Looks yummy, I’m going to try making it for our next party. Thanks for posting !!!

  17. Nora says:

    I made 2 cakes for my daughter’s baby shower 2 days ago. I made one round one, and got a little silly, and made the 2nd one square. Everyone loved it, and the cake sliced beautifully, but I did make a few changes…

    I used the recommend brand (Native Forest); I used 8 cans, since I was making 2 cakes. I’d experimented with 2 other brands – Chaokoh and Mae Ploy. Chaokoh isn’t creamy enough. I love Mae Ploy – it’s really thick – I use it in curries – but I couldn’t find it!! I’d like to try using Mae Ploy next time.

    I did not shake the cans, and I refrigerated them for about 36 hours. Of the 8 cans, one had super thick cream on top, like in your pictures. 3 seemed like they never separated, and the others didn’t have the marked separation that the thick one had. All in all, I got about 4 cups (32 oz) from all 8 cans.

    I still had enough frosting for 2 cakes – I whipped it first, and it expanded to 8 cups. Then I added the 3/4 cup of sugar & almond extract. I live in Florida, the humidity capitol of the world… the cream whipped up fine.

    I did add one envelope of gelatin (dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling coconut milk) to the “frosting”. I added the gelatin after adding the sugar & extract. I’d made an experimental cake last week, and the frosting remained too runny. The frosting was thick enough to spread, and firmed up some more later. I pinned the cakes down with 2 skewers, and took them out, and put blueberries on top when it was time to serve.

    I loved making something so pretty and unique! I didn’t see anyone else mention adding gelatin – and realize that takes away the “vegan” classification, but it really worked well… otherwise, in my case, I would have been serving a fruit salad.

    • MaryJane says:

      Here’s what my DIL Ashley (MaryJanesFarm food guru) had to say:
      Hi Nora,
      I’ve seen gelatin suggested in other comments as a way to staiblize the frosting, and I’m glad to hear it worked for you! To keep it vegan, MaryJane’s ChillOver Powder available here: http://shop.maryjanesfarm.org/store/p/65-ChillOver-174-Powder.aspx could also be used. It’s nice to hear about what has worked for those of you who live in more humid climates, since we can’t duplicate your conditions here at the farm.

  18. terri in calif says:

    Cannot wait to try this, it sounds like great flavors & gluten free!!!

  19. Judy Russi says:

    This looks great — although I imagine putting this together and having it look like yours would be a challenge for me — and with the comments about the topping not sticking/thick enough – I think if I make it – I will make it in a trifle style — Looks like a good alternative to cool whip/whipped cream trifle filling. Thanks for the great idea and clear instructions

  20. Renáta says:

    Thank you so much for this elegant, scrumptious looking The Cake !!!

  21. Beth Milanak says:

    I made this today with heavy cream instead of coconut milk. (not available at store) It is delicious!
    Thanks for the recipe!

  22. Mavis Crabtree says:

    It looks great. Can you please e mail me the recipe and instructions as I can’t seem to save it, and I would love to try it .
    Thank you

  23. Tina says:

    This looks amazing! I want to try it. Thanks it looks like it came from a bakery.

  24. Sandra Olson says:

    I am for sure going to make this! It looks soooo delicious. Thank u and keep them coming!

  25. Rosalia says:

    Thanks so much for the step by step recipe I will use this for my senior project I’m a culinary arts student at MTI thank you again

  26. carolyn says:

    Could I use cans of coconut cream instead of separating coconut milk to get the cream?.

  27. Micah says:

    This is absolutely amazing! My son has a lactose intolerance, and I was not sure what alternative to do for his birthday cake! I found your recipe on Pinterest and just wanted to tell you AMAZING, and THANK YOU!

  28. carolyn says:

    I used coconut cream but after being in the fridge only one can ‘solidified’. All 3 cans bought at the same time but maybe 2 were older, and I still had to drain some liquid from the one good can. Due to time I didn’t have any choice but to use all 3 so I just whipped and whipped and whipped, almost look like it had crystalised a little. Got it ‘stiff’ enough to use, although some fell off the side of the cake on the car trip to the party. Maybe next time I’ll buy extra cans and use the ‘good’ ones. Another issue I had was not sure if Australian melons are much juicier than US ones but used about half a roll of paper towel but the water melon was still very wet so that probably didn’t help the icing stick.
    Overall the cake tasted great and basically looked like it was meant to if you looked at the side where the icing stuck.

    • MaryJane says:

      Here’s what my DIL Ashley, MaryJanesFarm food guru had to say:

      Hi Carolyn,
      I recently had a similar experience where the cream didn’t solidify in time (I figured it was because I am in and out of my refrigerator all the time, so it wasn’t cold enough). Since I was in a hurry, I skimmed the cream off and popped it in the freezer and stirred it every 10 minutes or so to firm it up. It solidified, and froze partially but whipped up great.
      Like you said, the cans of coconut cream have some coconut milk that will separate from the cream and sink to the bottom of the can, which needs to be drained from the cream. In my experience, cans of coconut cream are about 2/3 cream (what will solidify when chilled), and the rest is coconut milk.

  29. Pingback: Healthy and pretty party ideas | Daniellehamonutrition.com

  30. Jess says:

    Would it be possible to fruit on the inside instead of frosting? Or is that what holds it together? Just wondering since it’s for my friends birthday and he doesn’t like frosting. He’s also vegan. If so, which fruit would you suggest? Strawberries perhaps? The recipe looks awesome though!! Thanks

    • Nora says:

      I’ve made this cake 3 times. It’s truly delicious, and beautiful. The pistachio filling goes well with the melon, however, I’m sure you could substitute cut fruit, but you should dry the fruit after cutting, and mix it with the coconut “frosting”.

      Your friend might like this “frosting”. The “frosting” is not at all like regular cake frosting – it just looks like it! Since it is made with coconut “cream”, it has a lighter flavor. The cake by it’s nature is vegan.

      When I construct the cake, I frost between the melon slices, then run 4 thin bamboo skewers vertically thru the whole cake, to stabilize it. I leave the skewers in while I fill, frost, and transport it. I pull them out just before serving.

  31. Tammy H says:

    Oh how I wish I had this in front of me right now. I love to make amazing vegan desserts that knock the socks off the carnivores in my family. This will do it for sure. Can’t wait until our Fathers Day gathering to enjoy this cake. Thank you for the detailed directions.

  32. Brenda Evans says:

    This looks so good ! I shared this so I could save this recipe . I am going to try this .

  33. THESE RECIPES I MUST TRY WITH MY GRANDSON NATHANIEL……HE REALLY LOVES TO HELP ME COOK….THEY ALL LOOK DELICIOUS!!

  34. Patricia Ramos Rodriguez says:

    Great Idea!….

  35. Dora says:

    Love this summer treets

  36. Pamela says:

    How long does this keep before becoming watery? How far in advance can I make this before serving it?

    • MaryJane says:

      Here’s what my DIL Ashley, MaryJanesFarm food guru had to say:

      Hi Pamela,
      This cake is best if served just after it has chilled for the two hours recommended in the recipe. We have had an uncovered cake keep for 3 days in the refrigerator, and still hold together. It didn’t get watery, in fact, the melons started to look a little dry (it had a slice out of it). However, the amount of liquid in each melon can vary greatly. If you would like to make this cake in advance, I would suggest draining the melons in the refrigerator overnight on a cooling rack placed inside of a cookie sheet to catch the liquid. Also, other commenters have used skewers to stabilize the cake, and if you are storing the cake for a couple days, this will add some stability and help keep the melon slices from slipping if they do begin to leach liquid. In general, I would say that it shouldn’t be stored for longer than 3 days.

  37. Betty Link says:

    Interested in ordering a cookbook or how to get your recipes….thank you.

  38. Angela Howard says:

    This looks veru interesting. I’m gonna try this for the 4th of July…..

  39. cerecita lu says:

    It looks delicious!!!

  40. DJ Derringer says:

    Hello, the cake looks and sounds amazing 🙂
    Problem is I am allergic to coconut, what would be a substitute that I could use in stead ?

  41. I like recipe like that

  42. Jake says:

    what an awesome idea. We’re making this for our next pool party!

  43. nada says:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe, I can’t wait to try it. It looks fantastic and I bet it tastes just as good….

  44. Gloria Mayes says:

    I love tjis and can’t wait to try it!!! Thanks.

  45. Amanda says:

    I’m going to try it with a different food in the middle since the grandbaby is allergic to nuts. Maybe crushed pineapples or dried fruit.

  46. Jennifer says:

    Do you know how many calories this would be per serving?

  47. Cynthia says:

    Can’t wait to make this. I’m going to make it for my son & daughter-in-laws gender patty next week.

    Thank you,
    Cynthia

  48. Pat says:

    This looked wonderful … until I saw coconut. For some reason ANYTHING in coconut makes me sick (although the docs say it isn’t an allergy, I think I’ll listen to my body in this case.) I am wondering, other than cool whip, would there be a good substitute? I was thinking Whipped Cream, but I’m not sure it would have the same “body” that the pictures showed. Any Suggestions??

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