I’ve been meaning to try pistachio cupcakes for a long time, but well, my list of cupcakes to try is just very, very long.  Pistachio is certainly a delicious flavor but it is not as indulgent and compelling as some of the other flavors.  These cupcakes have been passed over time and time again for something more…exciting.  Recently a reader requested a recipe for pistachio cake and finally I got the push I needed to try these cupcakes.  My family, friends, and myself are now thankful that I got that push because these were a major hit with everyone as a sweet ending to a get together this weekend.

The pistachio flavor is just right thanks to the multiple inclusions of pistachio in the recipe.  First, pistachios are ground into a powder and incorporated into the batter.  Then coarsely chopped pistachios are mixed in to the batter before baking.  Finally, you can top with additional pistachios for garnish (and you should – so pretty!)  The cake itself is exactly what I was hoping for – tender with good pistachio flavor, and just slightly dense, but in a good way.  This is at least in part due to the fact that the recipe includes no chemical leaveners.  These would surely be wonderful topped with a pistachio buttercream but personally I just can’t pass up the combination of pistachio and dark chocolate so I opted for a thin layer of ganache.  My most important piece of advice with this recipe: buy pre-peeled pistachios.  I have bought them before at Trader Joes, but unfortunately my regular store does not carry them.  If you don’t believe me, believe the blister on my thumb.

PS – Stay tuned for instructions on how to make your own cupcake tower later this week!

  • Yield 16-18 cupcakes


For the cupcakes:
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. shelled pistachios, divided
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. coarse salt (I used fleur de sel)

For the ganache:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

Additional pistachios, for garnish


  • 01

    To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

  • 02

    Place ½ cup of the pistachios in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until finely ground.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, cream cheese and ground pistachios.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Gradually mix in the sugar on medium-low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low, add the flour and salt, and mix just until the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Coarsely chop the remaining pistachios and evenly fold into the batter with a spatula.

  • 03

    Divide the batter evenly among the prepared liners, filling each about three quarters full.  Bake, rotating halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Let cool in the pan a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • 04

    To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.  Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes.  Whisk in small circular motions until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth and glossy.  Whisk in the butter until completely incorporated.

  • 05

    Dip the top of each cooled cupcake into the ganache to create a thin, even layer.  (I like to let the ganache cool and thicken just slightly before dipping the cupcakes.)  Sprinkle with additional chopped pistachios, if desired.