Friday, September 15, 2006

Pistachios - 3 ways

Roasted Pistachios

The Pistachio (Pistacia vera, Anacardiaceae; sometimes placed in Pistaciaceae) is a small tree up to 10 m tall, native to mountainous regions of central and southwestern Asia such as the Kopet Dag mountains of Turkmenistan southwest to northeastern Iran and western Afghanistan. It has deciduous pinnate leaves 10-20 cm long.

The plants are dioecious, with separate male and female trees. The flowers are apetalous and unisexual, and borne in panicles. The fruit is a drupe, containing an elongated seed (a nut in the culinary sense, but not a true botanical nut) with a hard, whitish shell and a striking light green kernel, having a very characteristic flavour ("pistachio" flavour).

When the fruit ripens, the shells split open partially (see photo). This happens with an audible pop, and legend has it that lovers who stand under a pistachio tree at night and hear the nuts popping open will have good luck.

stub from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pistachio_Nut


I never used to be a big fan of pistachios. Always thought that they tasted funny and it was green. I never liked anything green. Although I was linked to green a lot, I was House Captain for Green House when I was in high school in Malaysia, our old place in Malaysia was painted in green, the house I used to live in is painted in light green, the only vegetables I (used to) eat are green, the House I was assigned to when I got here was also Green (I can't remember what it was called though).

How ironic it is that green is now one of my favourite colours (especially lime green) and I have learned to love pistachios. I think they call it a paradox.

Anyway, since I've developed a liking to pistachios I have made white chocolate pistachios cupcakes (recipe from AWW Cupcakes) twice and my latest baking venture was making Bill Granger's Pistachios Biscuits from Bill's Open Kitchen. You could almost say that they're now one of my favourite nuts :)


White Chocolate Pistachios Cupcakes (2 Ways)

Type 1. Green tea, White Chocolate Pistachios Cupcakes w/ Green Tea Cream Cheese Frosting


Green tea and white chocolate pistachios cupcake

Before you start ewwing... I will have you know that it was actually quite YUMMY. When I first opened up the book, the recipe was for a Turkish Delight cupcake. I am not a big fan of turkish delight, but I was willing to give it ago, until I discovered that:

a) I had no rose water and

b) I have no idea where to get turkish delight at 9pm on a Saturday night, and supermarket versions just won't do it for me.

I am notorious for changing recipes (and stuffing them up because I didn't quite get the measurements right) and since I have some left over maccha decided to make a green tea version of it. (I am also nuts about maccha). Substituted rose water for maccha and ta dah... I have green tea and white chocolate pistachios cupcakes! Incidentally, white chocolate and green tea does blend together, probably not as well as dark chocolate and green tea, but nevertheless.

So what did I need the turkish delight for? The topping of course! I should take a photo of it to show you what it's suppose to look like! Anyway, flicking through the book I saw a recipe for cream cheese frosting. I love cream cheese frosting, that's about the only thing I love about carrot cakes and THAT is the ONLY way you could get me to bite into a piece of carrot cake.

Still had some maccha, I thought, "What the hell?" and went with the cream cheese and maccha and since I love maccha, I probably went a bit overboard with the amount in the frosting (hence the super green frosting)

The verdict: I was a bit surprised at the texture of the cake though, I suppose since I was using pistachios meal, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the cake was a bit muffiny. But hey, muffiny or not, everyone loved it. I brought some to work for my colleagues and they loved it and even my friend who HATES green tea ate TWO of it. The frosting was yummy too.. mmm...

Cupcake Ingredients:

60g white eating chocolate, chopped roughly
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup pistachios nut^
90g butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup self-raising flour
2 tbsp plain flour
1/2 tbsp maccha powder*
3 tbsp of hot water*

Preheat oven to 180 deg C(160 fan forced) and line 6-hole texas or 12-hole standard muffin pan with paper cases. Melt chocolate and water in small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Process pistachio nuts until fine. Fold in sifted flours, ground pistachios and warm chocolate mixture. Stir in maccha** to taste. Divide mixture among cases and bake for approximately 35 mins (large cakes) or 25 mins for smaller cakes.

^Pistachio nuts may be pre-roasted for a fuller flavour but this is not essential.
*Mix hot water and maccha until it forms a liquid consistency before adding into batter.
**I think I ended up putting a bit more than 1/2 tbsp because I love the green tea flavour.


Cream Cheese Frosting

60g butter, softened
160g cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp melted maccha (melted as above)
3 cups of icing sugar

Cream butter, cream cheese and maccha until light and fluffy. Then gradually beat in sifted icing sugar. Decorate cupcakes once they have cooled in temperature.

Makes up to 12 cup cakes.

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Type 2. White Chocolate Pistachios Cupcakes w/ Rose Water and White Chocolate Ganache


Pistachios, rosewater and White Choc

Round 2! I have all the proper ingredients! Except turkish delight. By now, you are probably thinking, "Girl, you were never intending to make it using turkish delight were you??" I say: CORRECT! I was just looking for excuses :D

Round 2, I decided to make round 2 with White Chocolate Ganache, because it was for a family dinner. My family do not eat turkish delight. My cousins might, but the oldies like granny, my aunt, dad and mum will not eat turkish delight, especially not my brother. But everyone LOVES chocolate! The key to one's heart is chocolates I say. So, I search high and low until I found a white chocolate ganache recipe of my liking. And the result was....

White Chocolate Pistachios cupcakes

The verdict: I fooled everyone! My mum thought it was superb but a bit sweet (but that's because she didn't know that I used rose water for the chocolate and the cup cake!) My two cousins, aunt and my mum took away a doggie bag with one cup cake each.

Cupcake Ingredients:

60g white eating chocolate, chopped roughly
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup pistachios nut^
90g butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup self-raising flour
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp rose water


Preheat oven to 180 deg C(160 fan forced) and line 6-hole texas or 12-hole standard muffin pan with paper cases. Melt chocolate and water in small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Process pistachio nuts until fine. Fold in sifted flours, ground pistachios and warm chocolate mixture. Stir in maccha** to taste. Divide mixture among cases and bake for approximately 35 mins (large cakes) or 25 mins for smaller cakes.

^Pistachio nuts may be pre-roasted for a fuller flavour but this is not essential.


White Chocolate Ganache

1/4 cup cream
185g white chocolate chopped coarsely

Bring cream to boil and pour over chocolate and stir still smooth. Cover and referigerate for 30 mins. After 30mins, beat with a mixer until light and fluffy. Decorate cupcakes once they have cooled in temperature.

Makes up to 12 cupcakes.

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Pistachios Biscuit


Pistachios Biscuit

I have been eyeing this recipe from Bill's book for a while now. The recipe was fairly simple and it wouldn't take too long to whip this up for afternoon tea. The Housemate's dad was in town so I thought I might as well make something nice for him since he was going to be treating us to a yummy lobster dinner (hehe). Everytime he's in town we would always go for Lobster and Noodles at Rock Kung in Glen Waverley. It has almost become a ritual, we'd go for dinner and then he'd be off to Crown Casino to make his money back from what he spent on dinner. (and he always does!)

It's another recipe that incorporates both pistachio nuts and rosewater. Whoever came up with this combination is ingenious I say. It gives a sweet after taste to the cake/biscuit without you having to pile on the sugar in the making of it.



Ingredients:


125g shelled pistachios
125g unsalted butter, softened
115g caster sugar
185g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder, sifted
2 tbsp plain flour (extra)
1 egg
1 tbsp rose water

Soak pistachios with water for about 30mins. This will soften the pistachios so that you can slice through them when cutting the dough.

Cream butter and sugar, add egg and mix until combined. Add the rose water and stir until smooth. Drain pistachios and add to batter along with flour and baking powder. Fold through until it forms a stiff dough. Sift the extra flour over dry surface and knead dough into 2 or 3 logs and freeze for approximately 30mins. (Bill's recipe suggests refrigerating for 20-30mins instead, but I found that the dough was still a bit soft and my biscuits were all going out of shape when I cut it.)

Preheat oven to 180 deg C.

Remove the biscuit logs from the freezer and start slicing them. (between 5 - 8mm depending on how thick you like your biscuits). Arrange biscuits on tray and bake for 10 - 12mins or until lightly golden.

Makes approximately 60 biscuits.

The verdict: Like rose water scented short bread with pistachio nuts. I think that it might have a bit too much pistachios in it because my biscuits ended up going out of way out of shape when I was cutting it (unlike the perfect ones that was in the book) Nevertheless, it was still yummy and I made ended up making so many of it that I decided that I would share this with my BBM partner.

Pistachios biscuit



2 comments:

Jeanne said...

Mmmm, pistachios - I love them! But I do rememebr being very much put off by their resolute greenness as a child! Now I adore them and my ultimate test of whether an ice cream shop knows what it is doing is to try their pistachio ice cream. It quickly sorts out the men from the boys, as the bad versions taste invariably of almond essence (blech!) and the good ones have that savoury nuttiness of pisatchios. Yum. These biscuits look divine, btw!

ilingc said...

Hi Jeanne,

I'm starting to get addicted to them! The biscuits were divine. They melt in your mouth like mmm....

I can't stand almond essence too! As a kid, I would refuse to eat anything almondy because I associated almonds with these chinese almond biscuits and almond puddings that my mum use to make me eat. I remember gagging whenever I caught a whiff of it.

I can tell the difference now and I love almonds, but have started to be weary of recipes that asks for almond essense or extract in them.