April 23, 2013


Vanilla Pistachio Cupcake

When deciding what trio of flavours I was going to make for the fundraising Paris-inspired cupcakes, I knew that a vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream was a people-pleasing must. Taking from French pastry inspiration I decided to fill it with a pistachio buttercream and then my interests in Moroccan and Algerian flavours led me to the pair it with a rose water macaron.

Vanilla Pistachio Cupcake

Rose water can be found in stores that carry Middle Eastern food products. This amazing flower essence infused water is imported from Lebanon. If you do pick some up I suggest you also buy the orange blossom water which will likely be on the same shelf.

Vanilla Pistachio Cupcake

The pistachio filling was made by mixing pistachio paste with my Fluffy Mom Frosting which is a vanilla buttercream. Pistachio paste can be purchased but it is expensive and hard to find. It is used in quite a few french pastries including pistachio jaconde which is a sponge cake used in many entremet. Since I plan on tackling some entremet soon I decided to try and make the paste on my own.

Rose Water Macaron

There are already many amazing tutorials online for macarons. I've added links to two great french meringue macaron tutorials here and here. I recommend watching this video to understand the important technique of macronnage.

I definitely had my share of hiccups preparing the macarons but even thou the 'pieds' may be a little big or the tops may have coloured slightly, in the end they are all delicious!

I hope you enjoy these recipes and give them a try alone or together. Just remember to spread the recipes out over a couple of days starting with ageing the egg whites. The macarons will also benefit from a few days in the fridge to meld and intensify the flavours before topping your delightful cupcakes.

Rose Water Macaron
Basic macaron recipe adapted from Mad about Macarons!

Yield: 60 mini macaron or 40 medium macaron

You will need a digital kitchen scale to make this recipe. They can be found very reasonably, I picked mine up for a whopping $10. I highly suggest the investment, it will open up a whole new world of recipes.

Age your egg whites by sealing the bowl containing your separated egg whites with plastic wrap and punching a few holes for ventilation. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 7 days.


For the Basic Macaron
  • 150 g egg whites, aged, at room temperature
  • 100 g superfine sugar (caster, berry)
  • 180 g ground almonds
  • 270 g icing sugar (confectioners', powdered)
  • Gel food colour, pink and ivory
  • Edible dried rose petals (optional)
For the Rose Water Ganache
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons white corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons rose water
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Gel food colour, pink and ivory

For the Basic Macaron

1. With paper towel wipe down your mixer bowl and whisk attachment with lemon juice or vinegar to remove any trace of fat, oil or soap. Rinse with water and dry.

2. Line two baking sheets with perfectly flat parchment paper or silicone baking mats if you have them.

3. Place the ground almonds and icing sugar into a food processor and pulse on and off for 30 seconds to incorporate and reduce any large pieces of almond.

4. In a large bowl sift the icing sugar and almond mixture three times. Discard any large coarse pieces of ground almonds. If there are a lot of pieces to discard weigh them and replace with more ground almonds. Or alternatively you can grind the coarse almonds in a spice/coffee grinder until they can be sifted. 

3. Whisk egg whites (at room temperature) in stand mixer until soft peaks form. While the mixer is running at medium-high speed ("6" on a KitchenAid) sprinkle in sugar a tablespoon at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl to fully incorporate.

4. Whisk on high ("8" on a KitchenAid) until you mixture turns glossy and reaches stiff peak stage.

5. Add the food colour to the meringue, 3 parts pink to 1 part ivory. Continue whisking on high about 30 seconds, scrapping sides as necessary until colour is incorporated.

6. Combine 1/2 of the dry mixture into the egg white mixture. Mix well, there is no need to carefully fold the mixture at this point.

7. Add second 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the bowl and begin your macronnage. Scrape the bottom of the bowl, turn the batter upside down and plop it on the top. Alternate this technique with swiping the batter against the side of the bowl several times and then scraping the side of the bowl and plopping the batter on top. The best way to tell when your batter is ready is by scooping a spoonful of batter and letting it drop back into the bowl. If it slowly drops back into the bowl, lands on the batter in a small mound and slowly sinks back into the batter, then you are done.

8. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a plain tip. An 804 (1 cm opening) pastry tip will work best but a plain tip size 10 or higher can also be used. Ensure you turn down the top cuff of the bag before filling. This will make the process of filling the bag a lot less messy.

9. On tray, pipe out 2 cm rounds of batter to make mini macaron. For medium macarons pipe to 3 cm in diameter. Leave 4 cm between piped rounds. Lay a dishcloth on your counter and rap the tray firmly against the counter top a few times. Don't be afraid to really give them a BANG! This will help the macaron's peaks sink in. You may need to rap the tray in between piping rows because the macaron can set within a minute.

11. To decorate place a piece of dried rose petal onto 30 or half of the piped rounds. Alternatively splatter macarons with pink food colouring by dipping a flat bristled paint brush into food colouring and using the end of your finger, hold the bristles back and flick colour onto rounds.

11. Leave trays out at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. This will help the feet (pieds) to form.

12. While the macaron are setting, preheat your oven to 300° F (150° C). Reduce the temperature to 250° F (120° C) and bake your macaron in the center of the oven, one tray at a time, for about 15 - 20 minutes. Test after 12 minutes. If you touch the top of the macaron and there is a wobble continue baking for 5 - 6 minutes longer until firm. Remove trays from oven and let cool on trays.

13. Marry up the shells in similar sized pairs, one with a rose petal and one with out. Fill a piping bag or Ziploc bag with the Rose Water Ganache and pipe a small amount into the center of one shell. Place its partner on top, using a circular motion to gently squish filling to but not over the edges of the macaron.

For the Rose Water Ganache

1. Place finely chopped chocolate into a small bowl.

1. In a small pot, bring cream, corn syrup and rose water to a simmer over medium heat, stirring with a spatula.

2. Remove cream from heat and add gel food colouring using 3 parts pink to 1 part ivory, mix until desired colour is reached.

3. Pour cream mixture over chopped chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Mix until melted and then add in butter and mix until incorporated.

Vanilla Pistachio Cupcakes
Cake recipe adapted from Rose Levy Barenbaum
Pistachio Paste recipe adapted from Pierre Herme

Yield: One 2 layer, 8" round cake or 20-24 cupcake

To make the Pistachio filling you will need a digital kitchen scale and a candy thermometer. The Cake Box cake was also used to make these delicious Easter treats.


For the "Cake Box" Cake
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 3 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening, at room temperature and cut into cubes
For the Fluffy Mom Frosting
  • 1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups icing sugar, sifted (confectioners', powdered)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Pistachio Filling
  • 125 grams shelled pistachios, unsalted
  • 30 grams ground almonds
  • 60 grams sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1-2 teaspoons water
  • 2 drops almond extract
  • 1/2 cup Fluffy Mom Frosting

For the "Cake Box" Cake

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C). Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

2. In a 2 cup measuring cup, combine the egg whites, 1/4 cup of milk, vanilla and almond extract and stir with a fork. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together on low speed ("stir" on a KitchenAid) for 30 seconds.

4. Add the butter, shortening and remaining milk and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed ("4" on a KitchenAid) for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium for 20 seconds after each addition.

5. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full for a domed peak or 2/3 full for flat tops.
Bake 12-16 minutes until tops feel stable or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center. Ensure to not over bake these delicate cakes! Check after 12 minutes, but not before, and check in 2 minute intervals until done. Immediately remove cupcakes from muffin pan to cool on racks and let cool completely.

6. Time to fill your cupcake! Using a small pairing knife cut a 3 cm cone out of the top of the cupcake. You want your cone to be fairly deep but not through the bottom of the cake! Fill your cupcake with 1 teaspoon of Pistachio filling. Cut the bottom tip off the cupcake cone and replace the top of the cupcake.

7. Frost with Fluffy Mom Frosting using desired tip and decorate with your Rose Water Macaron, 2 pistachio halves and 3 white dragees. Cover and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator up to 5 days (eaten at room temperature). Best eaten the same day as baked.

For the Fluffy Mom Frosting

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed ("4" on a KitchenAid). Butter will become fluffy and pale.

2. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium-high speed ("6" on a KitchenAid) for 3 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy.

3. Best used right away.

For the Pistachio Filling

1. In a spice/coffee grinder, grind the pistachios until you reach a fine paste. You might have to do this in batches depending on the size of your grinder. And grind ground almonds in spice/coffee grinder to reduce coarseness. Combine ground nuts in a medium bowl and mix.

2. In a small saucepan mix water with sugar and simmer over medium high heat until mixture reaches 250° F (120° C). Pour the scalding hot sugar over the nuts and quickly mix with a spoon to prevent crystallisation.

3. Once the mixture has cooled slightly begin to knead it with your hands. Carefully add water 1/2 teaspoon at a time until a marzipan-like texture is reached.

4. In a separate bowl mix 2 tablespoons pistachio paste with 1/2 cup Fluffy Mom Frosting.

I hope you tackle these beauties, they are worth it. I will have to try these recipes in cake form, imagine that!

xoxo Melissa

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I just discovered your blog and I love your sewing patterns! I feel like they're so me! But I think it's so funny that your sewing patterns are so simple (in the best way) and your baking recipes are so complex (in the worst way) haha. I'll send this to my friend and maybe she'll make me the cakes while I make her a shirt!


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