Pistachio Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

by feastonthecheap on December 1, 2011

Mariel here. Apparently our sweet-teeth weren’t sated last week since both my mom and I opted to post desserts this week. There’s just something about the holidays that screams for more-more-more sugar. But I’d like to think I have an even better reason than that…today we’re celebrating both my husband’s and my step-father-in-law’s birthday. Yesterday was my dad’s.

In honor of the big guys’ special days, I did something a little out of character this morning. Rather than hitch up to my laptop and hammer away on a post for MarthaStewart.com or a deadline for SELF, I took the first half of the day off and just baked….and baked….and baked. For my husband, I conjured up a new recipe, one that “occurred” to me on my morning run of all places: Pistachio Cupcakes.

The man loves pistachios – not so much the nut – but pistachio-flavored things, like gelato and ice cream. These pint-size treats were exactly as I’d hoped they’d be – fluffy and sweet with a subtle nutty flavor and little nibs of real-live nuts. They’re winners all around and I’ve already indulged in two despite the fact that the birthday boy has yet to sample even one.

For my step-father-in-law, I whipped up a Key Lime Pie. It’s his all-time favorite dessert and he keeps threatening to take a stab at my mom’s recipe, but hasn’t yet found the time. I decided to do the work for him and will be surprising him tonight at dinner. Since most restaurants aren’t so hot on BYO-dessert, I’ll be sneaking it inside in a soft-case cooler that semi-resembles a handbag. We’ll see how that goes.

We promise we won’t totally abandon the savory side of life this December – I’m not sure my skinny jeans could handle another round of confectioner’s sugar. Now back to my “real” job.

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Pistachio Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
Makes 12

Ingredients for Cupcakes:
1 cup shelled unsalted pistachios – $6.89
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising) – $2.99
2 teaspoons baking powder – stock
¼-teaspoon salt – stock
½-cup milk – stock
½-teaspoon vanilla – stock
1 stick unsalted butter, softened – stock
¾-cup sugar – stock
2 large eggs – stock

Ingredients for Frosting:
1/3-cup unsalted butter, softened – stock
2 cups confectioner’s sugar – stock
½-teaspoon vanilla – stock
2½ Tablespoons milk – stock
¼-cup shelled unsalted pistachios – cost calculated above
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $9.88
Cost per cupcake: $0.82

Directions for Cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners

2. Pulse the 1 cup of pistachios in a food processor until finely ground, but don’t go nuts or you’ll create a paste. In a large bowl, whisk together the ground pistachios, flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. Combine the milk and vanilla in a spouted measuring cup.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale – about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time until just combined. Use a spatula to scrape along the bottom of the bowl and dredge up anything that gets stuck. On low speed, alternately add the pistachio mixture and the milk in batches, starting and finishing with the flour. Finish mixing by hand and avoid over-beating.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin filling to the top of the liners. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin on a wire rack, then remove from tin and cool completely on wire rack.

Directions for Frosting:
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together all frosting ingredients except for the pistachios until creamy.

2. Pulse the pistachios in a food processor.

3. Frost the cupcakes once completely cool then garnish with ground pistachios.