Persian Love Cake and Indulgences

The best word I can use to describe this cake is enchanting!  It grabbed me right away the first time I saw it online.  I just HAD to make it. It only took me over a year, but I finally did, and I am not sorry.  The recipe here is only slightly adapted from this one by Yasmin Khan.  And yes, my icing turned out way too pink. I wanted something much more subtle, but I accidentally over did it with the food coloring – hubby would not let me use beetroot powder, like I wanted! – but maybe you can try it.   You can leave your icing white as Yasmin does, or go completely naked and save a few calories. No matter what, it will enchant you.

It is totally worth it to get some rose water (easy to find online) and fresh raw pistachios (raw ones are brighter green) and make this cake.  

I know what you’re thinking… why is such an indulgent cake on a healthy cooking food blog? Well, I think part of being healthy and balanced, is not being militant or overly strict about anything.  There is a time and a place for celebration and that sometimes (oh who are we kidding, always) includes food. 

Indulgences can actually help prevent the all-or-nothing attitude that can sometimes backfire and cause you to completely derail (not that I’ve ever done that!).  Occasional indulgences can help you maintain good mental balance, alleviating guilt and negativity.  When you start restricting food groups or foods  it doesn’t last long term.  Restriction is not real life.  I have found the 80/20 rule (or for some of us 90/10) can help people to be more balanced and forgiving.  Research shows that planning for splurges can help with motivation to eat well and boost your happiness meter so you are better able to continue your healthy lifestyle.

Just be careful about the 20%!  Know the numbers!  Twenty percent of your diet could mean one day a week, or 3 meals a week, not 2 full days a week of eating as much of whatever you want.  I find it is better for me to think 90/10 and then I fall somewhere in between!  



All that being said, remember that there is an art and a nuance to healthy indulgence. Here are some of the ways I like to think of indulgences that keeps my moderation in moderation!

1. Make it a real experience.  Not only if it is a holiday or an outing or vacation, but even if it is at home all by yourself, make it thoughtful and pleasurable. Make it exactly what you want and savor every bite.  Really pay attention and enjoy all the flavors and decadence of it.  

2. Pay attention to why.  In this case it may be celebrating Valentine’s Day, but at other times, it may be that you are tired and stressed.  Don’t let bad patterns creep in for common reasons. A healthy indulgence should give you positive feelings and you should feel good about having them.  Unhealthy indulgences lead you to denial and then negative feelings after.  So check-in on yourself and be honest about when and why you are indulging.

3. Don’t overfeed the beast.  It is okay sometimes to indulge what our body desires, but oftentimes we overdo it. Most times, just a bite or two of what you really want will satisfy your body’s needs better than a lot more of something that is trying to be a substitute for what you really want.   Wade in slowly and you will be better at keeping the indulgence to a healthy level.  Give your body time to register a small amount of what you want before you go in for more. 

4. Pay attention to your body after indulging.  How do you feel mentally and physically?  How do you sleep that night? Registering the effects can help you to make a better decision next time.  You should feel satisfied and content, not stuffed and guilty. 

Okay, enough of all that.  Make this cake for someone(s) you love. and savor every moment of that beautiful, indulgent slice!  Freeze the rest for another planned indulgence at the right time!  And please comment if you make it and let me know what you think.  

Persian Love Cake

This is probably the most romantic cake you will ever bake. A luscious, dense cake filled with scents of rose water and citrus and then topped with rose petals and bright green pistachios, it is exotic enchantment! But not difficult to make. You'll fall in love!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Decorating time15 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Persian
Keyword: cake, Love cake, romantic dessert
Servings: 12 slices
Author: Kiki Simpson, Healthy Sexy Kitchen


  • 6 ounces unsalted butter 170 g or 1 1/2 sticks
  • 2/3 cup sugar I used fine, raw cane sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 12 pods cardamom seeded, ground (1.5 teaspoons ground)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 120g - I used "00" flour
  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour 270 g
  • 1 lemon zested
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons sugar I used fine raw cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt use less if your butter is salted


  • 1 1/4 cup powdered (confectioner's) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rose water or lemon juice, if preferred
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pistachios
  • rose petals optional for garnish


Make the Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 320° F (160° C) and grease an 8-inch (20 cm) pan and line it with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter and 2/3 cup sugar until fluffy (I used standing mixer for all). Then beat in the eggs, one at a time until just incorporated.
  • If used cardamom pods, crack them using a mortar and pestle to release the seeds. Discard the pods and grind the seeds to a fine powder. If using already ground cardamom just add the 1.5 teaspoons to the batter along with the AP four, almond flour, lemon zest and juice, rose water, baking powder and salt and beat until smooth.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick or butter knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Should take about 45 mins, but depends on your oven. Start checking at 40 minutes. Transfer to a baking rack and let cool slightly.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the 2 T sugar, 1 T lemon juice, 1/2 T rose water to a simmer, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Poke holes all over the cake with a toothpick and slowly pour the warm syrup all over. Let cool completely before removing from the pan to place on your serving platter.

Make the Icing and Decorate

  • Whisk the sugar, rose water (or lemon juice, if preferred) and cold water until smooth. Add any coloring you may desire and whisk until well blended - start small, a little goes a long way. Spread the icing over the cake, letting some drizzle down the sides slightly. Garnish with pistachios and rose petals (if using).

7 thoughts on “Persian Love Cake and Indulgences”

    • Hi Chrissie! I have never done it, but I am sure you can make it into muffins! I would do the same temp but start checking them at 15 minutes or so. Use the toothpick test to determine when they are done. Stick the toothpick in the center of the muffin and if it comes out mostly clean (with only a couple of crumbs) then it is done! If you do this let me know how it turns out for you.


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