Pistachio is one of my favorite flavors, I love pistachio cupcakes and ice cream. If you’ve ever been to Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour in Dania Beach, FL and had their pistachio ice cream with hot fudge, you know what ice cream heaven is like! They’ve been there for over fifty years and this flavor combination reminds me of my childhood and summers at the beach.
These pistachio cupcakes are just light and delicious and with a mild pistachio flavor from natural pistachios – no pudding. While many recipes use pistachio pudding, I find the puddings adds to a gummy texture that I don’t particularly like. Whenever possible, I love using natural ingredients to flavor whatever I’m making.
HERE’S HOW I MADE THEM
Preheat oven to 350°F, place oven rack in the center position and line a baking pan with cupcake liners and set aside.
Note: This recipe makes about 15 cupcakes, if you don’t have two baking pans to prep, bake in batches and allow the baking pan to cool between bakes.
Start with a cup of raw pistachios, unsalted and shelled. I picked up mine at Trader Joe’s. Pulse them in a food processor a few times until they are finely chopped. Set aside.
Note: If you over blitz nuts, you can end up with peanut butter, so pulse and check until the nuts are just finely chopped.
Spoon measure and level the cake flour and sift with the baking powder, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl. Add all of the crushed pistachios, minus 3 Tablespoons, and whisk all the dry ingredients together. Set aside.
Note: The reserved 3 Tablespoons of pistachios will be used to garnish the cupcakes at the end.
In a stand alone mixer with a paddle attachment or with a hand-held electric mixer, combine 1/4 cup of butter and 2 1/2 Tablespoons of vegetable/canola oil. Add the sugar and beat for a few minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla paste and almond extract and beat on high until the eggs become pale and the mixture has thickened.
Note: I find oil makes moister cupcakes, but I wanted that buttery flavor, so I combined them. If you prefer all butter, use 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter and cream the butter until light and fluffy.
Add full fat sour cream and beat just to combine. The pistachios alone won’t color the batter, so if you’re looking for the light green finish-baked color, mix in a drop of green icing coloring to the wet ingredients before adding the dry.
With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients until loosely combined. Scrape the sides down and with the mixer on low, add the milk and until combined. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl with a spatula to ensure all the ingredients were combined. If you see any flour, fold it into the batter with a spatula. The batter should be thick.
Use a 2-inch ice cream scoop to evenly measure and drop the batter into the liner. You want to fill the liner only two-thirds. The cupcakes will rise to the top while baking. If you overfill the liners, you’ll end up with muffin-top cupcakes and they could stick to the baking pan and not release. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until you insert a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
These were so good I ate one without any frosting while still warm. I also baked some in cupcake baking cups (no pan required) and I baked those for 21-22 minutes. If you’re making mini cupcakes, you probably want to check for doneness at 10 minutes. Remember each oven can vary so it’s better to check early instead of over baking.
These cupcakes were topped with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting I had left over from my Easy Strawberry Cake. I decorated with pink bunny Peeps and garnished with the reserved crushed pistachios. The bird’s nest cupcakes are my Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. You can also use Cream Cheese Frosting. Click this link if you want to see how I made these tempered Chocolate Nests.
Note: I forgot I had Easter themed baking cups so I removed the liners and transferred the baked cupcakes to the cups and decorated them for the holiday.
Real Pistachio Cupcakes (no pudding)
Moist cupcakes packed with real pistachios for an authentic taste. Decorate with strawberry, vanilla, Nutella or cream cheese buttercream frostings.
- 1 cup pistachios, shelled and unsalted, divided used Trader Joe's brand
- 1 ¾ cup cake flour, spoon measured and leveled
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt prefer Diamond brand
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 ½ Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 extra large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla paste or extract
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
- ½ cup full fat sour cream or crème fraîche, room temperature
- ½ cup whole milk
- optional: gel icing coloring such as Wilton brand
STRAWBERRY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature prefer Plugra or Kerrygold brands
- 1 cup freeze dried strawberries sourced at Trader Joe's
- 6-7 cups powdered sugar, measured then sifted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or extract
- ¼ cup strawberry preserves prefer Bonne Maman, Braswell's or Smucker's
Preheat oven to 350°F, place oven rack in the center and line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
In a food processor, pulse a cup of pistachios a few time until they are a fine crumb. Be careful not to over pulse or you can end up with a paste. Set aside.
Sift the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt together. Add the pistachio fine crumbs minus 3 Tablespoons for decorations and whisk to combine. Set aside.
In a stand alone electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand-held electric mixer, combine ¼ cup of unsalted butter and 2 ½ Tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil. Add a cup of granulated sugar and beat for a few minutes. Scrape the sides down.
Add two extra large eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla paste and 1 teaspoon almond extract. Beat on high until the eggs become pale and the mixture has thickened.
Add full fat sour cream and beat just to combine. If adding gel icing color, add now with the sour cream. Scrape the sides down.
With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix just until loosely combined. Scrape the sides down.
With the mixer still on low, slowly add the whole milk just until combined. Remove from the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all the flour was incorporated. Fold in any flour, if necessary, but don't over mix. The batter consistency should be thick.
Use a 2-inch ice cream scoop to evenly measure and drop the batter into the liner. Fill the liner with only two-thirds of batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until you insert a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.
Note: Baking cups take a little more batter so bake for 21-22 minutes. Check with a toothpick at 21 minutes.
Allow to cool in the muffin pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack and cooling completely.
STRAWBERRY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
Sift measured powdered sugar and set aside in a separate bowl.
Cream 2 sticks of unsalted butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
In a food processor, blitz 1 cup of freeze dried strawberries until powder. Sift powder and remove any larger pieces. Set aside.
Once the butter is creamed, add the powdered strawberries and one cup of powdered sugar at a time. Beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste or extract and ¼ cup of strawberry preserves. Beat on low until combined. Taste the frosting, if overly sweet for your taste, add a pinch of salt. If too thick, add a teaspoon of milk at a time until it reaches desired consistency. Then increase speed and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Set frosting aside and cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying out until ready to use. Can refrigerate for two days and freeze up to a month.
If you don’t have a 12-cup muffin pan, you can bake in batches or purchase cupcake baking cups (no muffin pan required).
Link to Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 16 ounce block of cream cheese, full fat and room temperature
½ cup butter, unsalted and room temperature
4½ – 5 cups confectioner’s/powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
1½ teaspoon pure vanilla paste or extract
pinch of Kosher salt
In a stand alone mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on high speed until smooth. Add the confectioner’s (powdered) sugar, cream (or milk), pure vanilla extract and a pinch of Kosher salt. Beat on low and as the sugar begins to combine, increase speed to high and beat until completely creamy and combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to combine all the ingredients. If too thick, add a teaspoon of whole milk or cream at a time until it has reached desired consistency.
Making Ahead: store cupcakes in a sealed container at room temperature so they don’t dry out.
Freezing: Flash freeze unbaked batter in cupcake liners for 1 hour, then transfer to freezer safe bag and store up to 3 months. Thaw in refrigerator overnight, then bake according to directions.