Pistachio Amaretto Cupcakes
Amaretto: A sweet, almond flavored, Italian liqueur that originated in Saronno, Italy.
I want to learn Italian. I want to dance in the Fontana di Trevi. I want to bath in Amaretto.
A blanket of snowflakes are dancing outside my window, through a gloomy grey sky. The pathway to my front door is buried under 4 feet of snow. The streets are frozen over. The days are short. Everyone has a cold. This is a Wyoming winter, and it has hit hard.
I’m warm inside, wearing my slipper socks with a cozy thick scarf wrapped around my neck (my winter uniform), watching Under the Tuscan Sun, wiping away pistachio amaretto cupcake crumbs from my lap. I’m dreaming of warm breezes, fresh cut grass, and wildflowers. I’m dreaming of spring, a spring spent in Italy.
I’ve never been to Italy. It’s been on my bucket list for years, ever since watching Under the Tuscan Sun, one of my favorite films. I’ve probably seen it 100 times. It’s a little embarrassing and cliche, I know. But it gets to me. Perhaps because I’ve been in the main character’s shoes. I’ve been lost and found. Broken and rebuilt. Damaged and healed. So, when the dark winter days bring me down, I put the movie on, bake up some cupcakes, and remind my self, that no matter how cold it feels outside, spring is always around the corner. Soon the sun will shine again, and someday I’ll feel it in Tuscany.
These Pistachio Amaretto cupcakes were inspired by Italian springtime daydreams. I love the vibrant color and nutty texture of ground pistachio, the warmth of amaretto liquor, and the lightness of vanilla buttercream, spiced with amaretto, of course.
Pistachio Amaretto Cupcakes
* Makes about 24 cupcakes
2 and 1/3 cups cake flour (at high altitude I use 2 1/2 cups)
2 tsp baking powder (at high altitude I reduce by 1/4 tsp)
1/2 tsp baking soda (at high altitude I reduce by 1/8 tsp)
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups pistachios, unsalted and shelled (if you can’t find unsalted that’s ok, just reduce the kosher salt to 1/2 tsp)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 and 3/4 cups granulated sugar (at high altitude I reduce by 2 tablespoons)
5 egg whites, at room temperature (at high altitude I use 6 egg whites)
1/2 cup full fat sour cream, at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature (at high altitude I use 1 cup)
1/4 cup amaretto liquor
Make the cupcakes:
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
In a food processor, grind the pistachios into fine crumb. Take 1 1/2 cups of the crumbs and pour into a large bowl. Reserve the leftover crumbs for garnish.
To the pistachio crumbs, add the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix till evenly combined. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, on medium high speed, cream the butter for about a minute, till softened. Add the sugar and beat till light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the egg whites and vanilla. Mix on medium speed till fully combined, scraping down the bowl if needed.
Add the sour cream. Mix on medium speed till fully combined.
With the mixer on low, add half the dry ingredients, followed by half the milk. Repeat. Mix till just combined.
Slowly stir in the amaretto till just combined.
Fill each liner 2/3 way full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or till a center tester comes out clean.
Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then place on wire rack to cool completely.
Top each cupcake with a generous amount of frosting and garnish with pistachio crumbs.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2-3 tablespoons amaretto liquor
a pinch of kosher salt
Make the frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, on medium high speed, cream the butter for about 3 minutes. The butter should lighten in color and become fluffy.
Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Add the heavy cream, mix well.
Add the amaretto, mix well.
Add a pinch of salt, if needed. Mix the buttercream for another 2 minutes till light and fluffy.