Orange and pistachio cupcakes

Orange and pistachio cupcakes

Orange and pistachio cupcakes

It’s possible these are my best ever cupcakes. I’m just putting it out there. I think I’ve put together some killer combinations over the years, but these were something really very special. The cake is fluffy and light, flavoured with orange zest, juice and blossom water. It alone is wonderful. I have topped those little morsels of goodness with an all-natural pistachio buttercream made by pounding pistachios to a pulp, moistening them with a little melted butter and folding the mixture through buttercream lightened with a little lemon juice. The cupcakes are topped with coarsely crushed pistachios and the beautiful pistachio pashmak produced by Pariya.

125 grams butter
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup vanilla sugar
1 egg
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water
2 cups self-raising flour

Frosting and decoration

80 grams pistachios
125 grams butter
2 pinches salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
pistachio pashmak (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180oC. Grease a mini cupcake tray.

To make the cupcakes, cream together the butter, sugars and orange zest till pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg and yolks. Add the orange blossom water and some of the orange juice, then some of the flour. Repeat the alternating additions with remaining juice and flour.

Spoon the mixture into mini cupcake trays, filling each cavity ¾ full. Bake the cupcakes for 15 minutes or until they are just golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Pound the pistachios to a powder, add melted butter and keep pounding

Pound the pistachios to a powder, add melted butter and keep pounding

To make the frosting, pound three quarters of the pistachios to a fine powder/paste. You may do this in a very good blender, I did it in a mortar and pestle. Melt a small portion (about a tablespoon) of the butter. Add the melted butter to the pistachios and grind them to a paste as smooth as possible.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat the butter and gradually add the icing sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the pistachio paste and lemon juice. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle.

To decorate the cupcakes, pipe a circle of frosting atop each cupcake. Roughly crush the remaining pistachios and dip each cupcake in the crushed nuts so about half the frosting is covered with nuts. If you’re using pashmak, pull a small quantity from the bag and shape it into a circle, and place atop a cupcake, repeat for each cupcake.

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