Edible Hobby

Pistachio cupcake

One of my most rewarding hobbies (quite literally) is baking.  Who wouldn’t want to eat their success, to savour the fruits (or in this case, cakes) of their labour, or to smell the sweet aroma of a job well done?!

Back in elementary school, I used to strive to collect as many “gold stars” or stickers on outstanding assignments; they brought me a lot of joy and reinforced my aptitude and exceptional talent.  I guess that today, hearing the accolades of people enjoying my baking is my modern day theoretical gold star and affirmation of culinary success.

All this to say, that simply executing a delicious recipe is not enough, but one must share such exploits with others.  Although I cannot bake for all of you out there in cyberspace, I thought I would pass on the recipe for you all to enjoy.

I originally found the Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes with Rosewater Meringue Buttercream Frosting recipe through the following link*, but after recreating it last night, I tweaked it ever so slightly.  The original only resulted in 8 cupcakes, and after all that effort, I prefer having more to indulge in and share.  Unless of course you’re living alone… in which case, make your cake and enjoy it too (in smaller quantities)!

Without further ado, here’s the Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes with Rosewater Meringue Buttercream Frosting recipe:

**I used margarine instead of butter and lactose-free milk as I am surrounded by lactose intolerants, but feel free to use regular milk and butter (in lieu of margarine)**

Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes

3/4 cup shelled raw pistachios
2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (use half of this if using freshly ground cardamom)
3/4 cup margarine or unsalted butter, room temperature
1  1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large egg, room temperature
1  1/2 cups milk
1  1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract

1. Heat your oven to 350 F and place a rack in the middle. Line muffin trays with papers and set aside.

2. Put the pistachios in a mini food processor (I used my coffee grinder) and pulse until very finely ground. Be careful not to turn it into a paste! Any extras can be used as garnish after the cupcakes are frosted, so set 2 tablespoons worth aside.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom into a medium bowl and set aside.

4. Add the margarine and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes.

5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds.

6. Add half of the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until just combined.

7. Add the milk, vanilla extract, and almond extract and mix on medium-low speed until incorporated, about 15 seconds.

8. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the remaining flour mixture. Mix on low speed until barely combined.

9. Add the ground pistachios (except for the 2 tablespoons reserved for garnish) and mix on low speed to combine.

10. Divide the batter among the lined muffin cups, about 3/4 full. Bake until the tops spring back lightly when pressed and a toothpick comes out clean, about 16-20 minutes.

11. Cool the cupcakes in the pan set on a rack for a few minutes, then transfer to the rack to cool completely.

(Makes about 26 cupcakes)

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Rosewater Meringue Buttercream Frosting

6 large egg whites
1  1/3 cups granulated sugar
1  1/2 cups margarine (or unsalted butter) slightly cooler than room temperature
2 teaspoons rose water (NOT rose syrup!)
2 drops pink (or red) food coloring (optional)
4 tbsp icing sugar (if desired to stiffen icing, if using margarine instead of butter for the recipe)
pink rosebuds to garnish

1. Bring 2″ of water to a simmer in a saucepan that is wide enough for the bowl of your mixer to sit on top of it (but not so big that the bowl falls in).  I used a large stock pot and lowered my Kitchenaid bowl into it so that the bottom of the bowl came in contact with the simmering water.

2. Add the egg whites and sugar to the mixer bowl. Whisk well to combine, then place over the pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is opaque and thick, about 4-5 minutes.

3. Transfer the bowl to the mixer and attach the whisk attachment. Start on low speed and over the course of 30 seconds, bring the speed up to high. Whip on high speed until the whites are thick and glossy and the bowl is cool to the touch, about 7-10 minutes.

4. While the whites are whipping, scoop the margarine into smaller portions (1/4 cup segments is fine).  It’s important that it is not too warm. (If using butter, going with tablespoon increments is better. 1  1/2 cups of butter = 24 tbsp).

5. When the whites are cool, scrape down the sides of the bowl and lower the speed of the mixer. Add 1/4 cup of the margarine at a time and whip until combined, about 10 seconds. Continue with the remaining margarine, waiting 10 seconds between each addition.

6. When all the margarine has been added, turn the speed to high and whip until the mixture comes together to form a thick frosting. This may take some time.

7. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the rosewater and pink food coloring (if using) and whip on high speed for 10 seconds to combine.

8. Add about 4 tablespoons of icing sugar if the icing’s consistency isn’t stiff enough for piping (due to the use of margarine), but if using butter, this step is not necessary.  If the icing is still not stiff enough to pipe, refrigerate for 30 minutes.

9. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.

10. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes once they are completely cooled and top each one with a sprinkling of ground pistachios and a rosebud (if desired).

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ENJOY!

*original recipe posted on Food52 by the talented Brooklyn blogger Roopa Kalyanaraman Marcello of Raspberryeggplant