Back to baking {Pistachio Cupcakes with Rose Water Buttercream}

23 Jul

Ever since Valentine’s Day two years ago when I had rose water ice cream at Cashion’s Eat Place in Adams Morgan, I have been wishing there were more opportunities to have desserts with this delightfully romantic scent/flavor. Then, while thumbing through an Indian cookbook last weekend, I decided that I should just find a recipe and try it myself.  And, while I’m not opposed to other types of dessert, I decided to turn to cupcakes yet again.

After a little searching, I found a recipe online for pistachio-cardamom cake with rose water frosting from food52, and it sounded like a delicious bite of so many of my favorite things.  From grade school days of instant pudding to hot summer nights at Boccato Gelato, pistachio has always been one of my favorites!


The only change I made to the original recipe was to double it, as 8 cupcakes didn’t seem like nearly enough, and to add a little more cardamom {shocking, I know!}.  The following is the original recipe with just a few changes and in the proportions I used.

{Pistachio-Cardamom Cupcakes with Rose Water Frosting}


(makes about 24 full-sized or 48 mini cupcakes)

  • 1/2 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios
  • 1  1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom {I added about another 1/4 tsp after tasting the batter}
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk, room temperture
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Grinding the pistachios ...

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place cupcake liners in your muffin tin of choice.  Put the pistachios in a food processor and pulse until very finely ground, but be careful not to turn it into a paste!  Transfer the ground nuts into a small bowl and set aside 3-4 tablespoons for topping the cupcakes. 

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

Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and beat on medium speed until the mixture is uniformly smooth, about 30 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add half of the flour mixture.  Mix on low speed until just combined.  Add the milk, vanilla extract, and almond extract and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture is uniformly smooth, about 15 seconds.  Add the remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed until barely combined.

Almost done!

Add the ground pistachios {except for the amount reserved for topping} and gently mix to combine.  Divide the batter evenly among the lined muffin cups {about 2/3 full}.  Bake until the tops spring back lightly when pressed and a toothpick comes out clean, about 16 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool a few minutes in the pan, and then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

Rose Water Buttercream Frosting:

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, slightly cooler than room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon rose water {I found it in the baking aisle at Whole Foods}
  • A few drops food coloring of your choice {I used green}

Egg whites and sugar over simmering water.

Bring 1-2″ of water to a simmer in a saucepan that is wide enough for the bowl of your mixer to sit on top of it without falling in.  Add the egg whites and sugar to the mixer bowl and whisk well to combine.  Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water, whisking constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is opaque and thick, about 3 minutes.

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

While the whites are whipping, cut the butter into tablespoon-sized chunks. It’s important that the butter is not too warm, so if it’s squishy, put it in the fridge for a while so that it’s somewhat firm but still pliant. 

That's a lot of butter!

When the whites are cool, scrape down the sides of the bowl and lower the speed medium-high. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and whip until combined, about 10 seconds. Continue with the remaining butter, waiting 10 seconds between each addition.

When all the butter has been added, turn the speed to high and whip until the mixture comes together to form a thick frosting, a few minutes.  Continue to mix on medium-high speed for another minute.

Rose Water

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the rose water and food coloring and whip on high speed for 10 seconds to combine.

Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.  Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes once they are completely cooled and top each one with a sprinkling of ground pistachios.

The frosting for these was a little more involved than I’m used to, but it was worth it in the end!  It was so light and airy, and had just the right amount of subtle rose flavor.  The cupcakes were quite good as well, and had a nice moist texture.  The cardamom didn’t really come through for me the way I would have liked, but the pistachios did, and were a nice balance to the airy sweetness of the frosting.  Here are the finished cupcakes … they are minis, so they’re going quickly!  Enjoy!

It's hard to have just one of these little treats!


2 Responses to “Back to baking {Pistachio Cupcakes with Rose Water Buttercream}”

  1. Emily July 23, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    Those look and sound delicious! I really should not have read this on an empty stomach. I will definitely need to try this one out with so many favorite ingredients wrapped into one treat!


  1. New Recipe! {Rose Petal Pound Cake} | wedding withdrawal - April 17, 2012

    […] that bottle of rose water in my kitchen was really speaking to me {hadn’t used it since the Pistachio Cupcakes with Rose Water Buttercream from last summer}.  I was even more determined to figure out some way to use the rose water when […]

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