I think your cake is beautiful, Renee, including the color of the pistachios on the sides.
When I made this cake, I used “regular” pistachios (not Kaluystan’s). I found that blanching the pistachios totally robbed them of their flavor, and I found this a silly stunt just to have a heightened color. Roasting them allowed me to skin them just as easily, and I simply sorted them, keeping the greenest ones for the outside and putting the yellower ones into the cake itself.
On the whole, I’m not a fan of extracts, so I omitted it. I like the flavors to come from the food itself and my opinion is that amping with extracts gives a “jolly ranchers” intensity that just doesn’t make sense to a natural, from scratch setting—I expect it in a boxed cake or boxed pudding, because that’s what processed foods are all about. I found that the cake and the frosting balanced perfectly and had plenty of pistachio flavor. You probably have powerful equipment there at the shop—what I did with some of the outside pistachios was to make a pistachio butter out of them and add it, proportionately by weight, to some of the buttercream for piping. That sort of “pre-mastication” of the nuts released super-intense pistachio flavor into the buttercream, without using any more pistachios than called for, and it was a gorgeous green color. It would have worked well for the whole cake, too.
I agree—the taste of this cake and buttercream not to be forgotten!
Sorry if I was a bit soap-boxy. Sometimes it’s hard to explain stuff without sounding like a maniac. ; )