Monday, March 17, 2014

Pistachio, Lemon-Meringue Cupcakes for my Dad and Brother-in-law

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  While I may not be Irish, I never pass up a reason to celebrate.  I haven't gotten a corned beef on the stove yet, I'm sure it will be happening soon.  As the years have gone by and I have seen so many plans change, lives cut short; I realize there really is no time like the present.

I had other plans for Saturday, but I tossed them aside and buried myself in cupcake making to share with my Dad and Brother-in-law.

Pistachio Cake 
110 grams roasted, salted pistachios (I started with 8 ounces shelled) (reserve leftovers to sprinkle on top of the finished cupcakes) 
7 ounces (200 grams or 14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed 
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice (or variety of your choice) 
Zest from one Meyer lemon 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
3/4 cup granulated sugar 
3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
3/4 teaspoon salt 
5 large eggs, at room temperature 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

In the bowl of a food processor, grind the pistachios until finely ground.

Add the butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract and pulse until combined.

Add the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt and pulse a few times.  Add the eggs and pulse until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl and pulse more if necessary.

Divide batter evenly between 12 muffin cups lined with liners, making each one about 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for 14-16 minutes. Until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool completely on a rack. 

Meyer Lemon Curd 
2 large eggs 
2 large egg yolks 
2/3 cup granulated sugar 
1/2 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice 
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 

Fill a small pot with a couple inches of water and place a heat-proof bowl on top of that and bring the water to a boil. You don't want the bowl touching the water.

Place the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar into the top of the double boiler and whisk until blended. Add the lemon juice and mix well. Reduce the heat until the water is at a gentle boil. Whisk the mixture constantly for seven minutes or until the mixture is thick. Don't let the curd boil.

Immediately strain the curd through a fine sieve set over a medium bowl. Use a spatula to push the curd through and discard any bits. Add the cold butter to the curd and whisk until melted. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd. Store in the fridge until needed.

This makes about 1 cup of curd, so you will have plenty to use in another recipe if you'd like.

Lemon Meringue Buttercream 
1 cup sugar 
4 large egg whites 
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), room temperature, cut in pieces 
1/2 cup powdered sugar 
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1 teaspoon Meyer lemon juice 

Heat sugar and egg whites in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water until 140 degrees F, whisking constantly.

Pour whites into a mixer bowl and beat on medium speed a few minutes until getting fluffy, then turn mixer up to full speed and whisk until the mixture is cool to the touch of the bowl and resembles marshmallow fluff.

Add butter a little bit at a time while the mixer is running on low speed. Add until all the butter is incorporated. Add the lemon zest, juice, and powdered sugar and mix until the mixture is light and fluffy. 

I combined the Swiss and American buttercream methods to make this icing a little more workable.

*If your icing is too soft, place the bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes and then whisk more. 

*If your icing is too firm (resembling cottage cheese) the bowl can be heated from underneath slightly with a torch or you can place the bowl over warm water for a few minutes. The butter was too cold and once it warms the icing will get nice and fluffy.

To finish the cupcakes, remove a small amount of the center of the cupcake with a small spoon (I used the small side of a melon baller and that worked great also).  Fill the indent with a spoonful of the lemon curd.  Place the buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a tip if you wish and pipe on top of the cupcakes.  Sprinkle the cupcakes with chopped pistachios.  Serve at room temperature.  

Even if you are a big kid you are never too old for a birthday bowling party.  Or cupcakes!  Actually instead of making leprechaun traps, maybe that energy would have been better spent inventing a better cupcake trap.  Just a thought...

Happy St. Patrick's Day!



  1. So much fun going on here! I'm yet to bake with pistachios. Thanks for sharing! :) ela

    1. Thanks Elzbieta! You will love baking with pistachios, hope you give them a try.

  2. Beautiful Gina! I love pistachios in all baked things!

  3. Gina,
    Your cupcakes are gorgeous, and I like the lemon-pistachio combo, sweetness with a salty crunch!

  4. Gina, those pistachio cupcakes look divine. Love the combo of flavours.

  5. Gina these cupcakes look out of this world :D
    LOVE lemon and meringues!

    Choc Chip Uru

  6. Beautiful cupcakes...somehow I have never baked anything with pistachio...time to start. Oh! The lemon curd and the meringue just sound divine...
    Hope you are enjoying your week Gina :D

  7. Beautiful cupcakes, I love the lemon meringue buttercream!

  8. Lemon is one of my favorite flavors, so that buttercream has my number. These look terrific, and I love the inclusion of pistachio -- what super flavor that added. Great stuff -- thanks.

  9. Wow! Those look amazing! I love lemon! So refreshing. I must try these soon!