Sicilian Pistachio (Cup)cakes
Last week I decided not to make this cake, primarily because I couldn't find shelled unsalted pistachios. I think my local supermarket is sourcing ingredients on Just In Time for Marie's baking schedule, because I swear those pesky shelled pistachios weren't there last week. But this Saturday they were, so here I am posting. All talk and, as it so happens, all action too! This working lark is doing wonders for my motivation levels.
For some strange reason, I figured this cake would be difficult and time consuming. My subconscious thought that each one of those vivid green pistachio slivers were hand cut and placed "just so" on the cake with tweezers. If you don't have Rose's book, then check out Matthew's photos. Doesn't that look like a cake that requires effort? Impressive isn't it. Truth be told, even though I bagged the elusive pistachios, I was still unconvinced about going to all that effort. I sought my usual Sunday inspiration and had a revalation that I didn't need tweezers or a scalpel to prepare the cake. In fact, I was so inspired (and my Tupperware was already half full of Rose's Sticky Toffee Pudding with Butterscotch Toffee Sauce from Saturday nights dinner party) that I opted to cupcake the recipe.
Such an easy cake to make. Especially if you don't blanch the pistachios! My subconscious must have been feeling rather lazy, because I didn't connect that "blanched" actually means more than "shelled". So, if you are particularly keen, go ahead and blanch those nuts. The nuts are whizzed with the sugar, but not too fine - don't look to me for any definition of that, because I think I overwhizzed.
This is the ole two step method cake. Mix the dry ingredients, add the fat, then add the whisked eggs padded out with some of the sour cream in two batches. Literally, this cake is ready for the oven in about 15 minutes. This recipe made 16 cupcakes, and I would have got 18 if I had been a little less generous. I can't remember how long they took to bake. Just keep an eye on them - sorry, I am not very helpful with this post. The trickiest thing about this cake was trying to read the recipe around a shipwrecked pirate ship.
I couldn't find any pistachio essence or extract - my supermarket needs to pay closer attention, so I used the almond extract instead. I think I will seek out the pistachio essence, given I am not a fan of the faint almond undertone. It is ever so slight and it has faded to a lower note today. This cake was even quicker because I opted out of making the icing. I happily unearthed some mystery icing that was in the freezer. I am embarrassed to say that I am not quite sure what it actually is. I *think* it was the leftovers from Woody's Lemon Cake, so that would make it white chocolate lemon buttercream. It is actually a great pairing, the lemon is very slight. The flavour is quite like a really well made pistachio gelato - creamy with just a slight note of pistachio nuttiness.
I didn't go mad on the pistachio topping. My pistachios were such insipid dull little creamy green impersonators of pistachios. Can you tell I am having pistachio envy?
These little cupcakes have generated some rave reviews. The little assistant ate two today and was still pointing for more. His Dad has also eaten several and was also pointing for more. I think they will be on the repeat list!
Oh, and by the way - the toffee pudding with the butterscotch sauce? Amazing. Get some of that on your plate quickly.