Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pistachio Cupcakes with Honey Vanilla Frosting

I made these cupcakes for Collin's aunt Lacey's baby shower about a month ago and would probably have never thought to try pistachio unless she has asked for them and due to the pregnancy or not, is loving them right now. I'm so glad that I did some research and found a great looking recipe because I'm pretty sure this now takes the cake, literarily and figuratively for the best thing that I've made. These cupcakes are incredible. So moist, just a touch of savoriness and a healthy amount of crunch from the pistachios, mixed with the smoothest, subtly sweet frosting. Simply perfection. Who knew that I could love pistachios so much? Sure, I adore the actual nut, but have never gravitated towards pistachio flavored anything, probably because it looks terrible. Neon green and a strange flavor that doesn't resemble the actual nut what so ever. But these cupcakes on the other hand, use no chemicals to get a "pistachio flavor" they use the actual nut which just adds a touch of salty and a soft crunch to an otherwise smooth as can be cupcake. Amazing. 

There are some hazards to be aware of though when making these. For some reason (and this happens to me a lot) the first time I make something it goes perfectly, no errors or problems what so ever, but then when I go to make it again, thinking that I've mastered it because the first time was so easy, it utterly fails. A strange psychological game I end up playing making me feel terribly inadequate. I usually can recover from the fail and everything works out but the road is a rocky one. At any rate, a couple problems occurred the second time. 

ground pistachios (nice, bright, green color)

Number one, make sure there aren't too many brown skins on your pistachios because when you grind them up it turns brown instead of that lovely, vibrant, green color. Not good for the inside of the cake (although it works) and certainly not good for topping the cakes with. You can buy already shelled pistachios (again look for more green ones) or shell them yourself, takes a little bit longer but when I did this there were hardly any brown skins left on them. 

Number 2. Cook the frosting till it's THICK. The first time it was a breeze and I cooked it until it was the perfect consistency (ok, ok, AFTER I burned the first batch). But when I made it the next time (3rd?) I didn't cook it nearly long enough and the frosting ended up being way too thin and had to thicken it with extra sugar and some refrigeration time. Annoying to say the least. At any rate, make sure to cook it till it's pretty hard to stir. Almost like a dough, but not quite. Also, whisk the h*ll out of it so it doesn't burn. Don't leave it. The first few minutes it's ok but once it gets heated that milk will burn in a hot second so watch it. Even though this frosting sounds annoying, believe me, it's worth it. The cooking portion really isn't all that bad if you heed my advice and after that you just add your body weight in butter and a little honey and vanilla and it's done. Not too bad really. 

If you love pistachios make these. If you're unsure or don't like pistachio flavored things still make these. It surprised me too. You can find the recipe here that I used. In general, this cake is referred to as the Aunt Sassy Cake. I think I would prefer just pistachio cake but I guess if you enjoy saying "Aunt Sassy Cake" then go for it. For my purposes, I call it just pistachio. 

Photos by Collin Monda

My cupcakes are also linked over at the blog Sweet As Sugar Cookies. Check it out!

Apple Streusel Coffee Cake

A few weeks back for a morning group meeting I made an apple streusel coffee cake from the book of the moment/year/forever Rose's Heavenly Cakes. This cake was surprisingly simple (this is saying something considering the book. Everything in there is insanely complicated) and the perfect treat for the morning. Plus, anything with streusel is always good right? Definitely a great recipe to keep in the arsenal. But, I would suggest waiting for honey crisps to come back in season because there really just isn't any replacement for them. I used pink ladies for this and although it was great, I think it would have been that much better with honeycrisps, but I am uncommonly biased towards them.

Photos by Collin Monda