Pistachio Cupcakes

I’ve been meaning to try pistachio cupcakes for a long time, but well, my list of cupcakes to try is just very, very long.  Pistachio is certainly a delicious flavor but it is not as indulgent and compelling as some of the other flavors.  These cupcakes have been passed over time and time again for something more…exciting.  Recently a reader requested a recipe for pistachio cake and finally I got the push I needed to try these cupcakes.  My family, friends, and myself are now thankful that I got that push because these were a major hit with everyone as a sweet ending to a get together this weekend.

The pistachio flavor is just right thanks to the multiple inclusions of pistachio in the recipe.  First, pistachios are ground into a powder and incorporated into the batter.  Then coarsely chopped pistachios are mixed in to the batter before baking.  Finally, you can top with additional pistachios for garnish (and you should – so pretty!)  The cake itself is exactly what I was hoping for – tender with good pistachio flavor, and just slightly dense, but in a good way.  This is at least in part due to the fact that the recipe includes no chemical leaveners.  These would surely be wonderful topped with a pistachio buttercream but personally I just can’t pass up the combination of pistachio and dark chocolate so I opted for a thin layer of ganache.  My most important piece of advice with this recipe: buy pre-peeled pistachios.  I have bought them before at Trader Joes, but unfortunately my regular store does not carry them.  If you don’t believe me, believe the blister on my thumb.

PS – Stay tuned for instructions on how to make your own cupcake tower later this week!

Pistachio Cupcakes
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Yield: 16-18 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. shelled pistachios, divided
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. coarse salt (I used fleur de sel)

For the ganache:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

Additional pistachios, for garnish

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

Place ½ cup of the pistachios in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until finely ground.  In the bowl of an electric 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.  Coarsely chop the remaining pistachios and evenly fold into the batter with a spatula.

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

To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.  Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes.  Whisk in small circular motions until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth and glossy.  Whisk in the butter until completely incorporated.

Dip the top of each cooled cupcake into the ganache to create a thin, even layer.  (I like to let the ganache cool and thicken just slightly before dipping the cupcakes.)  Sprinkle with additional chopped pistachios, if desired.

Source: adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes

41 Responses

  1. I love pistachios. These look gorgeous!

  2. No chemical leaveners – I’m intrigued. Also confused. Quick science lesson?

    The ganache looks heavenly!

  3. My husband loves pistachios so am delighted to see these! One quick question — the recipe doesn’t specify salted or unsalted pistachios. I would assume unsalted since it’s for baking, but just wanted to make sure since they are not as readily available. Thanks!

  4. Love your picture looking down on the tower. Can’t wait to see how you made the tower. Cute!

  5. Like you, I’ve had my eye on these ever since I bought the cookbook, and keep passing them over for other recipes. I love the dark chocolate ganache on yours. Such pretty cupcakes!

  6. Thank you so much! I’m going to make these for the party; I hope they satisfy her craving as well as her mom’s box mix concoction. I planned to make cupcakes – these with pistachios on top and vanilla with mocha frosting with chocolate espresso beans on top. I’m going to frost these with her mom’s chocolate frosting, which is made by boiling candy-style. I’ll post the recipe over on our blog at some point, if you’d like to give it a try in the future. Thanks so much for giving this a whirl!

  7. Wow Annie, those look wonderful! I love the sweet-salty combination of dark chocolate and pistachios. These are such a unique little spin on cupcakes, and I can’t wait to try ’em! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  8. I have never eaten pistachios! These look beautiful and so does the cake that you linked for the buttercream! I don’t think I’ll be trying this one extremely soon, but it’s definitely on my to try list. Right after I try pistachios first. Just to see if I like them you know. LOL Thanks!

  9. These look great, and I love pistachios. Something about pistachio yogurt has me bonkers this summer, too. I usually have pistachio yogurt with a little bit of graham crackers broken on top…it’s the perfect taste of summer. Love the cupcake tower, too!!!

  10. I love pistachios. This looks delicious 🙂

  11. these got starred…i need to make them!

  12. OMG! Those look amazing! I’m going to have to try them soon!

  13. These are beautiful! I cannot believe you peeled all those pistachios by hand — except that I kind of can, because I probably would have done the same thing. haha.

  14. I love pistachios! They go so well with peaches I’ve been eating them left and right the last few weeks. I made a cardamom peach buttermilk sherbet last week and have been sprinkling toasted pistachios over the top. Yum!

    These cupcakes sound awesome! No leaveners, that’s interesting. I love that they’re mixed up in the batter, but then also sprinkled in after it’s mixed. Sounds like you get lots of pistachio flavor, which is a good thing. 🙂

    I definitely get mine pre-shelled at Trader Joe’s. That store is the best!

  15. These are GORGEOUS…and you’re killing me as I really am craving something sweet and decadent like this today! 😉

  16. This look awesome! i want some now! you have the best recipes!

  17. These look amazing!! I love pistachios and cupcakes!!! I wish you would have posted this yesterday, I just ordered a cupcake tower on Amazon because I couldn’t find any good DIY directions online!!! Can’t wait to try these!

  18. Wow, these look great! Pistachio is such a lovely flavor : )

  19. They sound great. So sorry to hear you had to shell the nuts though! In the Chicagoland area, I often find shelled pistachios at independent ethnic grocers, esp Mediterranean. They usually sell them in bulk. Hope you have better luck.

  20. Beautiful photos! I hit my hand on the computer screen trying to take one off the cake stand! 🙂 I’ve had my eye on this recipe too and I’m glad you shared it because I loaned my book to someone and haven’t gotten it back yet!

  21. I honestly can’t get over how gorgeous your photos are – amazing!

  22. Annie, you did it again! Oh my… if only I could grab one through the screen of my I-mac! Can’t wait to try these guys!! My husband loves pistachios. I have a question about the source. What’s your opinion about Martha Stewart Cupcake’s book? Would you recommend it? I was browsing it at B&N the past weekend and almost bought it. Or would you recommend other cupcake’s recipe book? Thanks!!!!!

    • Mohana, I definitely would recommend it. At first when I saw it, I though, eh no big deal, nothing special. A lot of the recipes are kind of “staples” that I already have favorite recipes for or flavor combos I’ve already tried. But now I think it is great because it does have some fun flavors, as well as beautiful pictures and decorating ideas that provide me with lots of inspiration. Also, even though I have recipes for the staples, it’s nice to have a book that has them all in one place in case I just need to grab it quickly and whip something up.

  23. Looking forward to learning how to make the cupcake tower.. Thank you for sharing your secrets!

  24. When making the ganache, can I use dark chocolate instead of bitter-sweet?

  25. These look so pretty. Love the pistachio garnish!

  26. Those look delicious. I love the high shine of that ganache…

  27. Annie, you have executed these so beautifully – I was drawn by your photos at TS – a great lead to your lovely blog!

  28. Oh, my! These look great! Pistachio is my FAVORITE!! I will have to try these. I am so loving your website, by the way. 🙂

  29. These look divine and adore pistachios! And your cupcake tower is too cute, cant wait to see how you made it! 🙂

  30. Yummm I’ve never had pistachio cake before I don’t think but I can imagine it’s really amazing! I love that you topped it with a thin layer of ganache and a sprinkle of chopped pistachios. Gorgeous!

  31. MMMm the last time I made pistachio cake was with a boxed mix, but I think this one looks much better! And who doesn’t love a good ganache??

  32. My family LOVES these cupcakes! I haven’t decided yet. Definitely not my favorite-but will certainly make them again since they were such a hit with everyone else. Thanks once again for the cooking inspiration Annie.

  33. I just made these today and they were great. I’m lucky I live in the middle east coz u get sliced, powdered, chopped.. any kind of pistachio you want in the market! I have eaten very similar textured cupcakes that were only flavoured with saffron. And they were gourmet cakes! Now I can also make them right at home!

  34. Made these beautiful cupcakes, and they were a big hit. My gut reaction is that they are more appealing to adult tastes. Plus dark chocolate and pistachios is a wonderful combination. On my first try, the bottom of the cupcakes were a bit overcooked. Next time, I’ll try a shorter cooking time, elevating the rack and perhaps a baking sheet underneath the rack. If anyone has suggestions about how to fix this, I’m all ear … er “eyes.”

  35. I made these tonight for my mom’s birthday dinner (she is obsessed with pistachios, a running joke in the family). They were a HUGE hit. I agree that they definitely have more of a “grown up” taste, but guests at the dinner called them “sophisticated” and “out of this world.” There were no leftovers, which is always the biggest testament to how good something is.

    I had the same tiny issue as the person above me with the bottoms getting a tad overdone on the batch from the middle shelf, but I have a tiny apartment-sized oven, so those are the breaks. I realized after that I probably could have cooked them as separate batches since there are no leaveners. But they were still fantastic!

    One more suggestion to the amateurs like me out there – don’t forget to watch the pistachios in the food processor, unless you want pistachio butter!

  36. I just made these cupcakes and I liked them a lot. I topped them with pomegranate seeds and it gave them a nice tangy crunch.

    The only thing that was a little surprising was how dense these cupcakes were, not like your typical “cakey” cupcake… Just wondering if others had that experience? or if I did something wrong : /

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