At Altitude

Just Desserts

A slice of cake that’s also a slice of heaven

By Amanda M. Faison December 6, 2022 Published in the Winter/Spring 2022-23 issue of Aspen Sojourner

The pistachio cake at Heather’s

Image: Jordan Curet

One hundred twelve miles—that’s the distance from my driveway in Dillon, Colorado, to the pastry case at Heather’s Savory Pies on Basalt’s main drag. In all fairness, I grew up in Aspen and return to the valley regularly, so the drive door -to-door is often far shorter. But the point is, I’m willing to drive nearly two hours for a wedge of Heather’s pistachio cake.

And it is a wedge: Each slice is large enough to feed at least two, unless you refuse to share, which, with this beauty’s tender crumb and delicate nutty taste, isn’t totally out of the question.

The story of the cake is a simple one. When Rene and Heather Lujan opened Heather’s in 2012, they knew they wanted to serve homemade cake and pies. Heather, whose savory pot pies had already caught the attention of the community via her catering businesses and her teensy-tiny Mayberry Cafe in the Phillips 66, was doing all the cooking, while Rene worked front of the house. One day, a friend brought them a homemade pistachio cake, with the promise to share the recipe if they liked it. 

One bite and they were sold. The recipe exchanged hands and now, Rene says the dreamy dessert is one of Heather’s top sellers, right alongside the ever-popular carrot cake and key lime pie. The secret to the slightly nutty, almost almondy, crumb? Instant pistachio pudding, studded with bits of crushed pistachios.

When you spy the cake in the case with its two decadent layers coated in swooshes of light green frosting, order a piece before you even look at the lunch or dinner menu. Each cake yields eight enormous slices, and it sells out quickly. You don’t to be left wanting—in my case, that would mean 224 miles to come up empty-handed. 


Filed under
Show Comments