Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wearin' o' the Green

My cupcakes are, not me.

I'm not Irish, and have never seen the point of celebrating a holiday that seems to exist for the sole reason of getting drunk and eating corned beef and cabbage, a dish that is not even authentically Irish. Some years back a friend of mine married a man of Irish heritage; his behavior over the years caused him to become My Most Hated Human Ever and definitely did not score any points for other people who shared his ethnic background.

Now he's out of the picture and I'm feeling a little more friendly towards all things Irish - even U2. I even made some green cupcakes.

Well, they're not really green, but they are flavored with pistachio paste left over from the Mardi Gras King Cake. I altered my favorite cupcake recipe to include it, and they turned out delectably moist and subtly perfumed with pistachio. I'm sure I could have amped up the flavor a bit with some almond extract, but almonds and green food coloring are not pistachios, no matter what ice cream manufacturers try to make us believe.

Pistachio Cupcakes

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 ounces white chocolate
4 ounces pistachio paste
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 325F. Line muffin pans with 18 cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt.

Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1 minute at 50% power. Stir chocolate and if it does not melt completely, microwave for another 30 seconds at 50% power. Repeat at 15-second intervals until the chocolate is smooth when stirred. Add pistachio paste to the warm melted chocolate and stir well to blend.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add the pistachio mixture and vanilla extract. Alternate stirring in flour mixture and milk, ending with flour. Mix until no streaks of flour remain, but do not overmix.

Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.

Bake at 325F for 20-23 minutes until a tester comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 18 cupcakes.

Pistachio Buttercream Frosting

1.5 sticks of room-temperature butter
7 ounces marshmallow fluff
2 heaping tablespoons of pistachio paste
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine the butter and marshmallow in a bowl, and with a hand or stand mixer, beat on medium until completely smooth. Reduce speed to low and add confectioners sugar, vanilla, and salt. Continue to beat until smooth and fluffy. Frost cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with coarse green sugar, if desired.