Pistachio (or any Nut!) Cake

IMG_1924 Top View Platter of Cupcakes

Nuts add great flavor and texture to baked goods. In the recipe I have included below, nuts used in this cake are subtly represented and showcased even further by the choice of add-in flavors and frostings. There are so many different nuts that the possibilities are endless!

IMG_1932 45degree Cupcake Angle

This week, I share with you my favorite pistachio cupcake. The pistachio has made its appearance throughout history and as far back as nearly 7000 B.C.! It is a member of the cashew family, and the fruit that we consider to be nuts are actually drupes, similar to coconuts.  The pistachio tree bears a green-fleshed drupe encapsulated in a shell. Pistachios generally are available in grocery stores in salted and unsalted varieties.

IMG_1918 Bunch of Cupcakes

In this recipe I have used salted pistachios. If you use salted pistachios, be sure to reduce the salt in this recipe by 1/4 teaspoon. Pistachios have a membrane that can come off when rubbed with some force. You could boil the shelled pistachios for a minute or so and then rub them between a folded tea towel to completely remove them. I found, however, that after shelling the nuts and rubbing them vigorously between my fingers, I was able to get most of the skin off. I then processed the nuts to make a nut flour and the skins incorporated well into this flour. If you do decide to boil the pistachios and rub off the skin, keep in mind that the nuts need to be 100% dry before you pulse them into a flour in your food processor, which will add a considerable amount of time to this the preparation of this cake.

IMG_1929 Cupcake in Foreground

Pistachio and cardamom are quite a natural pairing. Cardamom is a beautifully floral aromatic greatly used in Middle Eastern, Indian, and South East Asian cooking and desserts. Being Indian, myself, I have cooked with it quite extensively and it has become one of my very favorite spices, joining the ranks of cinnamon and vanilla. Did you know that cardamom is part of the ginger family?

Rose is another complementary flavor to both pistachio and cardamom. This flavorful trio is found commonly in Middle Eastern and Indian desserts. Rose extract or essence is a strong ingredient, so just a little of it goes a long way.

IMG_1948 Cupcake with Bite

For the frosting of this pistachio cake, I have incorporated rose essence and cardamom together into my Even Better Cooked Flour Frosting. Together with the pistachio cupcake, they evoke the flavors of my culture with each bite. It’s exotic and flowery, ladylike and delicate.

IMG_1962 Top View Bite

If rose essence is not your cup of tea, omit it from the frosting. Pistachio is a nut that pairs so nicely with many different flavors. You can replace the rose with vanilla extract, ginger, honey, lemon or orange zest, or even some lavender and the cupcake will become a more westernized application of pistachios.

IMG_1952 Holding Cupcake

Another important note is that this cake is not limited to pistachios. You can replace them with the same amount of a number of other ground nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts (the list doesn’t stop here). You can even get fancy and toast the nuts first before grinding them and get an entirely different nut cake experience.

IMG_1965 Top View Single Cupcake

Pistachio Cake

Recipe by: Leelabean
(Yield: 20 cupcakes OR two 8″ round cakes)
1 1/2 c All-Purpose flour
1 c pistachio meal* (salted or unsalted pistachios that have been ground into a coarse meal using your food processor)
2 t pre-ground cardamom (if grinding fresh, use only 1 t)
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt (1/4 t salt if using salted pistachios)
1 c unsalted butter, room temperature
2 T oil, non-flavored
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 c milk (any milk will work), room temperature
2 t vanilla extract
1 t almond extract
1 t orange blossom water, optional

*NOTE: You may use any nut meal to make that nut-specific cake. Some examples are almond, pecan, walnut, hazelnut, Toast them before grinding them for an even nuttier nut cake.

IMG_1898 Pistachios

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Prepare your cake tins by lining with parchment and spraying non-stick spray. If you are making cupcakes, line the cupcake tin with cupcake wrappers. Set this aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, pistachio meal, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the milk and vanilla, almond, and orange blossom water (if using) together. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer beat the butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).

IMG_1907 Butter & Sugar

Add in the eggs, one at a time, incorporating into the butter mixture well after each one.

IMG_1908 Butter, Sugar, & Eggs

Add the milk mixture to the butter mixture and beat. This will produce a batter that looks like it is beginning to separate. Never fear. When the flour is added, the batter will come together nicely.

IMG_1909 All Wet Ingredients

Add the flour and fold using as few strokes as possible to combine completely. Take care to not over-mix.

IMG_1910 Batter Finished

Pour your batter into your prepared pans and bake for:

cupcakes: 20 minutes
8″ round: 30 – 35 minutes

Remove your cake when a toothpick inserted into the thickest part of the cake comes out crumb-free. Let the cake cool completely on the counter. Store these cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 – 4 days or in the fridge for up to 6 days.

IMG_1914 Baked Cupcakes

Frost as desired. Here, I have used the Rose Cardamom variation of my Even Better Cooked Flour Frosting

IMG_1955 Cupcake with Bite and Fork

IMG_1945 Bite on Fork

Sweetly ♥ Yours,


One comment

  1. Eva says:

    OMG these are so cute!!!

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