Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pistachio! Pistachio! Cupcakes

Many people don't think of pistachios when they think of desserts. I do. In fact, I happen to love this dessert. It's such a nice switch from fruity or chocolate-y desserts. Definitely something unexpected.

I had been craving pistachios for a while, but I wasn't sure how I wanted to incorporate them into a dessert. Then I made the decision to bring cupcakes down to Cincinnati and I wanted to make three different kinds. I already had the Strawberry Basil Lemonade Cupcakes and the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes so that covered both chocolate and fruity. I opted to go for pistachio flavored cupcakes to round out the flavors (and prayed that no one was allergic to strawberries or nuts).

After much searching, I discovered there are two camps when it comes to pistachio cupcakes. Those based on a boxed white cake mix and pistachio pudding, and those based on real pistachio nuts. I decided to be brave and go for the latter. At least that way I knew everything going into my cupcakes. I chose to go with a cream cheese-based frosting to mimic my favorite little pistachio pie. Mmm so good.

Pistachio! Pistachio! Cupcakes
Cupcakes Adapted From: Annie's Eats
Frosting From: Original Recipe

1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachios, divided
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
1 pound powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely ground unsalted pistachios

For the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 325˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners, or grease well.

Place 1/2 cup of the pistachios in the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely ground. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the butter, cream cheese and ground pistachios. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually mix in the sugar on medium-low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low, add the flour and salt, and mix just until the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared liners, filling each about three quarters full. Bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Slowly add in the powdered sugar; mix until frosting is smooth. Add the ground pistachios and mix until throughly incorporated. If frosting is too thick, add a tablespoon of milk.

Makes: 16-18 cupcakes

So the big disclaimer on these cupcakes is that they are DENSE. I was so unsure of these guys that they ended up filling the bellies of my soccer teammates rather than going on a long car trip with me. (This is what happens when my taste-tester doesn't get home until 5 minutes before we have to leave for our soccer game.) In the end we likened the consistency to a cornmeal-type muffin.

Don't get me wrong, these aren't bad by any means. Quite tasty and pistachio-y, just not quite your typical light and fluffy cupcake. While the final result wasn't too bad, I think I still have a little playing around to do before I would make these again for other people.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 467Calories from fat 220
% Daily Value
Total Fat 24.4g38%
Saturated Fat 13.2g66%
Cholesterol 95mg32%
Sodium 381mg16%
Total Carbs 58.8g20%
Dietary Fiber 1.1g5%
Sugars 47.3g
Protein 5.6g
Vitamin A 15%Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 4%Iron 7%


  1. Pistachios are so delicious and these cupcakes are taking them to the next level! Incredible and mouthwatering dessert!

  2. Hold on while I wipe the drool from my keyboard...



    These look absolutely delicious. My fiance and I are trying to figure out cupcakes for our wedding next month and I still haven't gotten around to baking a test batch. In all fairness though I brought up the idea only 3-4 days ago.

    I just may have to try these. Looks sooo good.

  3. Two comments - one, for years and years my birthday cake was pistachio - the kind with the white cake mix and the pudding. I remember it very fondly. It's been replaced by a strawberry torte which is much preferred by my sister-in-law's incredibly picky family... Two, I love the rating system B=needs some tweaking. We use 1-5 but I've never thought to add a rating to my blogs. Kate @kateiscooking

  4. I love your picture, im new beginner in cooking field, hope someday I can make some cupcakes

    visit my newest post to on


    tell me about your coment =)

  5. ooo, i love pistachios! i think i've only eaten them in desserts. very cute cupcakes!

  6. I love pistachios! I bet these were awesome!
    I sadly am not a baker.... mail order?! LOL

  7. I will admit that I'm a more than little burnt out by the never-ending cupcake trend and never (sorry to those of you who think otherwise) read the cupcakey blogs. Except now.

    Pistachio... cake. One of my favorite flavors. My bestest mostest favorite color. And cake, my favorite dessesrt. I can guarantee right now that these will be part of our wedding welcome "non-rehearsal" dinner next month.

    Thanks so much for sharing, and congratulations on the Top 9.

  8. Well these are awful pretty no matter what you say about needing to work with them a little bit more! You did a great job. I love pistachios!

  9. love these pistachio cakes...clever idea...nice pic!


  10. I love pistachios. That looks so good. Could you send me some?

  11. These might just be perfect for St. Patricks day!



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