Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pistachio Muffins

I love the green color - what a great way to celebrate spring!

Boy do I love nuts - walnuts, peanuts, cashews, almonds! Another nut I love, but don't often buy a lot of, is the pistachio. It's beautiful green hue and sweet crunch scream spring! In honor of this sweet nut, I decided to make some pistachio muffins. I used to love the pistachio muffins from Giant grocery store. They were a staple in my household growing up, and had to weight a pound each! The artificial pistachio flavor and neon green warmed my heart.

I shelled these nuts by hand!

My muffins were going to be a little more natural in flavor, using ground pistachios, a little cardamom and orange zest. I tweaked a recipe from Gourmet magazine for pistachio cake, because let's be honest muffins are really just mini cakes without frosting. The recipe was pretty simple. You just want to be careful when you're grinding the nuts that you don't overprocess them into a paste.

A beautiful and fragrant batter.

I added a little bit of green dye to enhance the color - ok so not so natural, but there is something about the visual appeal of the green that makes these more appetizing. The batter was super fragrant from the cardamom and orange zest. The zest really brightened the flavors. I only made six and AJ had eaten four by the end of the day! This recipe is a keeper!

Pistachio Muffins

3/4 c unsalted shelled pistachios (red skins removed)
1/2 c white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 c reduced fat organic milk
1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 c pure organic cane sugar
2 free range eggs
1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted organic butter, softened
1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
2 drops green dye

Arrange oven in middle rack and preheat oven to 350 F. Butter muffin tins, then dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Using food processor, pulse 1/2 c of pistachios until finely ground, about 40 seconds. (Do not overprocess, or mixture will become paste.) Add flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt and pulse briefly to combine.

In small bowl, combine milk and vanilla.

In large bowl using electric mixer at moderate speed, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and add pistachio and milk mixtures alternatively in batches, beginning an ending with pistachio mixture and beating after each addition just until combined. Chop remaining pistachios and add them and orange zest and mix just until combined. For a greener appearance add two drops green food coloring and mix until evenly colored.

Pour batter evenly into muffin tins and bake until wooden skewer comes out clean, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes, then run knife around tins to loosen and invert onto rack. Makes 6 muffins.

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