Sunday, February 19, 2012

Iced Pistachio Cupcakes

I'm not very familiar with pistachio nuts. I know I've tried them before and I know Khloe and Lamar have a commercial about them, but all I really remember is being a little kid and sucking on the nuts when they were still in the shells to get the salt, and then spitting the entire thing out. Yes, it was a total waste of perfectly good pistachios. I did try them this time around and they're not too bad. I definitely prefer them salted and roasted, and they're definitely not my favorite, but I can eat them without wanting to spit them out. I've grown up a lot. Despite the fact that I can now consume more than just the salt on pistachio nuts, I wasn't super excited to give iced pistachio cupcakes (no link again, sorry, I don't know what's gotten into Martha, but I did find this, which I believe is the same recipe, just for a whole cake as opposed to cupcakes) a try.

I wasn't able to find all the pistachios necessary, but the only ones that I missed were meant for the garnish, so I wasn't too concerned. Also, let me suggest that if you make these cupcakes there is no need to buy any pistachios that are still in their shell. Just buy a bag of shelled, salted pistachios, and a bag of shelled, unsalted pistachios. If you can find slivered pistachios more power to you. I give you this suggestion because I would have saved myself a lot of time had I bought salted pistachios that were already shelled. It's hard to coax some of those nuts out of their shells. They must be shy.

This recipe also required the use of my food processor, one of the best appliances known to man. Martha tells me that I was supposed to grind the unsalted pistachios into a paste. I was skeptical that this was actually going to work. I'm not sure if I ever got them to a paste consistency, but I did get them to a point where they were ground up so small they sort of stuck together in clumps. And clumps were good enough for me. The salted pistachios were meant to be chopped by hand, meaning there would be small chunks of nuts in the cupcakes. Not my favorite thing. I thought this might be a little difficult due to the size of pistachio nuts, but it was pretty painless, and I chopped them extra small so they wouldn't be as noticeable in the batter. I don't like chunky peanut butter and I don't like chunky cupcakes.

Before I could proceed with the rest of the batter I had to microwave the cream cheese (yes, I forgot to leave it out to get to room temperature, but I did remember the butter and eggs!) so it would soften. It was pretty much straight out of the fridge so it took more than a couple seconds. Once that was accomplished it was smooth sailing. Of course I tested the batter. It wasn't bad.

Once again the batter wasn't at a pourable consistency so I used about 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter to fill each cupcake liner. By a stroke of luck all the cupcakes turned out to be pretty much the same size, but flat, just like the rest of the cupcakes in this "chapter" so far. The cupcakes were baked for 30 total minutes with a turn halfway through the baking time, and I got just as many cupcakes as the recipe said I would. Hip, hip, hooray... or in this case maybe not. After all, I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about these cupcakes. Maybe having 34 of them wouldn't turn out to be a good thing at all.

I let the cupcakes sit overnight in my Cadillac of cupcake carriers so I could ice them the next morning before I took them to work. Martha said it was best to eat the cupcakes the day they were iced. And most of the time I listen to what Martha says... most of the time. The drippy icing was easy and took about 2 minutes to make. I didn't use a lot of it on each cupcake because I didn't want too much icing overflow and cause a mess in my Cadillac (not my car, the cupcake carrier). I had some icing left over, but that's probably because I didn't use as much per cupcake as Martha would have liked.

I went back and forth about whether or not I would garnish the cupcakes at all. Since I was unable to find the specified slivered pistachios, I tried to sliver my own. I was unsuccessful. The pistachios just kept crumbling each time I tried to slice them and I gave up after I was about 2 pistachios in. It just wasn't going to be worth my time. I decided against a garnish for all of the cupcakes other than the one that I photographed for all of you. I didn't want people to be scared away by pistachios on top of the cupcake anyway. I know when I see nuts on a cupcake I go running in the other direction.

I tried the cupcakes twice, like I normally do. Once when they were fresh out of the oven and again when they were completely finished. I liked them better fresh out of the oven. They were still warm and more savory than they were once they had been cooled and iced. They were still okay in their completely finished state, but I didn't love them. I apprehensively took them to work to share (I do not need to eat 34 cupcakes by myself) because I was interested to get feedback since I wasn't particularly fond of them. I was surprisingly pleased that for the most part everyone really enjoyed them. Will I ever make them again? Probably not, unless someone specifically requests them (highly doubtful), but at least now I know what they're like... and I like knowing things.