Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chocolate-Pistachio Cupcakes with Pistachio Buttercream Frosting

The pistachio craze started with my parents. A few summer ago we vacationed with them at their cabin up north. My dad bought a bag of pistachios. Eric and I have been hooked ever since. We can decimate a big bag in a single sitting if we let ourselves. So flash forward to these cupcakes. My birthday was a couple weeks ago. Eric was going to bake me a cake. In fact, he had me send him a list of dessert recipes that I wanted to try so he could pick one to make for me. Well, the choices I gave him were too good--he picked two recipes. The first was an amazing smores pie (seriously, you have to make this pie, click the link right now, it's that good!) he made for The Fourth of July, which is the day before my birthday. He was going to make chocolate-pistachio cake for my actual birthday. But we both decided that would be too many sweets in the house (we have wedding attire to fit into soon). Plus we had just finished our birthday adventure--sushi, museum, zoo--with ice cream.

But all the ingredients for this recipe were sitting in the cupboard, just begging to be made into a delicious cake, so of course it wasn't long before I gave in and made the cake as cupcakes. However, with the wedding just over two months away, I sent Eric to work with the bulk of them to share with his office. That way I get to have fun baking, we each get a taste, and we don't devour the entire two dozen ourselves!

Recipes for the cake comes from here.

Pardon the frosting, I was practicing with a pastry bag and tip. I know, I need more practice :)

Chocolate-Pistachio Cupcakes
1 box of yellow cake mix
1 3.4-ounce package of pistachio instant pudding
4 eggs
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup chocolate syrup (did you know you can make your own chocolate syrup?)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Either grease your cupcake tins or line them with cupcake lines.

In a large bowl, combine the yellow cake mix and the pistachio pudding. Add the eggs, water, vegetable oil, and almond extract. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes or until there are no lumps.

Pour about 1/3 of the batter into a bowl. Stir in the chocolate syrup.

Layering, divide the pistachio batter and the chocolate batter between 24 cupcake cups. If you want, take a butter knife and swirl the two layers together.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of a cupcake. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes then transfer the cupcake to a wire rack to cool completely.

A pretty pastel pistachio green

Pistachio Buttercream Frosting
3 cups powdered sugar
2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
5 tablespoon instant pistachio pudding powder (I made the rest of the mix into pudding)
6 tablespoon milk

Combine the milk and the instant pistachio pudding powder until the powder is completely dissolved. It is going to be quite thick, but you're going to have a nice concentrated pistachio flavor.* Set aside.

Place the the butter into a large bowl and cream with a hand mixer or standing mixer. Add vanilla and mix. Add 1 cup of sugar and blend on low speed until well incorporated. Then add another cup of sugar and beat until well blended. Whip in the the final cup of sugar. Beat in the concentrated pistachio pudding. To get light, smooth buttercream you need to blend the buttercream for 15 to 20 minutes on low.

Once your cupcakes have cooled, frost them. If pistachios could last in our house for more than a couple of days I would have chopped some up and sprinkled them on top of the cupcakes.

*Before making this frosting, I did some research on the web about putting pudding in buttercream. Some posts said that you can add the powder directly into the buttercream while others said it made the frosting gritty. I put a little bit of my buttercream in a bowl and tried adding the pudding mix directly into it. The flavor is more intense, but it's gritty and unpleasant on the tongue.

Cupcakes for as long as the eye can see!
For pistachio lovers like Eric and me, the pistachio flavor was a little too mild. However, these cupcakes were a huge hit at his office!




  1. Hi,
    I was looking for a easy quick way to get a pistachio buttercream and came across your recipe which I am so excited about. I was just wondering if you knew the shelf life of the buttercream and if I were to make it a couple days in advance would it still have the same taste and consistency?

  2. I think you should be fine making it 1 or 2 days ahead of time. The taste won't change but the consistency might a little. I've made this buttercream, froze it, then used it later; the texture was a little different but not much and not unpleasant. Just keep it in the fridge then take it out about 20 or 30 minutes before you use it so it has time to soften and become spreadable again. As for a shelf life I'd say you'd be good for 7 days as long as you're refrigerating it. Hope that helps.