Popular Indian flavor profile in a new form – Kesar Pista Cupcakes!
This recipe is for from scratch kesar pista cupcakes. Kesar means saffron and pista pistachio. So the base cupcake is an eggless pistachio cupcake made from ground pistachios. It is then topped with a saffron cream cheese buttercream frosting.
Kesar pista is a popular Indian flavor ice cream. The two are also used in many sweets so I thought it would be fun to make it in a new form for an Indian fusion dessert. Pistachio is a versatile ingredient and goes great with the flavor of saffron.
Note: If you’ve worked with saffron you know it takes some time for the flavor to be absorbed. I recommend making these the day before you serve them to give a more pronounced saffron flavor.
Saffron was once highly sought after and the ingredient of royalty. I think saffron is totally under utilized. It has a lovely floral taste and gives a beautiful color to sweets. A little goes a long way when it comes to saffron. The saffron cream cheese buttercream frosting tastes a bit like shrikhand because of the tang!
These pistachio cupcakes also taste great as Pistachio Cupcakes with Rose water Buttercream
If you are a fan of Indian fusion eggless cake recipes or fusion Indian sweets, you will love my Gulab Jamun Cake, Kesar Pista Milk Cake, Gajar Ka Halwa Cake, Mango Shrikhand Cheesecake, Chikoo Cheesecake, Tiramisu Burfi, Cookies and Cream Burfi and Kesar Pista Cupcakes.
Ingredients for Pistachio Cupcakes
All-Purpose Flour: All-purpose flour serves as the base for the cupcakes, providing structure and volume. It’s a versatile ingredient commonly used in baking.
Roasted Ground Pistachios: Roasted ground pistachios add a delightful nutty flavor and a subtle green hue to these cupcakes. They also contribute to the cupcakes’ moist texture.
Sugar: I’ve used white sugar.
Salted Butter: Salted butter lends a rich and buttery taste to the cupcakes. The salt content in the butter balances the sweetness and enhances the overall flavor profile.
If you use unsalted butter I would add 1/8 tsp salt instead of 1/16 teaspoon.
Note: I’ve also made these substituting oil for butter and it turned out well.
Salt: A small amount of salt is used to enhance the flavor of the cupcakes and to balance the sweetness. It’s a crucial ingredient in most baking recipes.
Baking Powder: Baking powder is a leavening agent that helps the cupcakes rise and become fluffy. It’s essential for achieving a light and airy texture.
Whole Milk: Whole milk provides moisture to the cupcakes and contributes to their tenderness. It also helps create a smooth batter.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Vinegar is used as an acid to react with the baking powder, creating carbon dioxide gas, which helps the cupcakes rise. It also plays a role in enhancing the cupcakes’ texture.
Vanilla and Almond Extracts: Vanilla extract adds a classic, sweet, and aromatic flavor to the cupcakes, while almond extract imparts a subtle nuttiness, complementing the pistachio flavor.
Ingredients for Saffron Cream Cheese Frosting
Saffron Cream Cheese Frosting is a luxurious and exotic topping that can elevate your desserts to a whole new level. Here are the key ingredients that come together to create this delectable frosting:
Salted Butter: Salted butter provides a rich and creamy base for the frosting. The slight saltiness enhances the overall flavor, adding depth and balancing the sweetness.
Cream Cheese: Cream cheese contributes a tangy and creamy texture to the frosting. It’s a classic ingredient in cream cheese frostings and pairs wonderfully with the saffron’s unique flavor.
Saffron: Saffron, often referred to as the “red gold,” is a prized spice known for its vibrant color and distinct aroma. When infused into the frosting, saffron imparts a subtle floral and earthy flavor along with its signature golden hue.
Powdered Sugar: Powdered sugar, also known as confectioner’s sugar, is the primary sweetening agent. It helps to achieve the desired sweetness and a smooth, lump-free texture in the frosting.
Milk: Whole milk serves as a liquid medium for dissolving saffron strands, allowing the saffron’s flavor and color to infuse into the frosting.
How to make the Kesar Pista cupcake batter
Roast pistachios on stove on medium heat 3-4 minutes or until fragrant. Toss in flour before grinding, this helps prevent them from becoming pasty. You’ll get a mix of finely ground pistachios with some pieces.
Pulse to grind to prevent it from turning into a paste and releasing too much fat.
I recommend sifting the dry ingredients (except sugar) together to make the cupcakes lighter and fluffier.
Mix apple cider vinegar or vinegar with milk.
Combine ground roasted pistachios with flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl.
Make the batter
Beat room temperature butter until creamy. Then, beat in sugar and vanilla and almond extracts.
Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Fill each about 3/4 way full with batter. Bake at 350F for 18-22 minutes. Every oven is different. Mine are usually ready at the 20 minute mark.
Check with a toothpick to ensure they are baked through.
Saffron Cream Cheese Frosting
Tastes a bit like shrikhand because of the tang of the cream cheese!
If you’ve worked with saffron you know it takes some time for the flavor to be absorbed. I recommend making these the day before you serve them to give a more pronounced saffron flavor.
Mix crushed saffron in milk, let bloom at least 10 minutes.
Add sugar, butter, cream cheese to mixing bowl (softened, room temp). Cream with mixer.
Add saffron milk and mix.
Kesar Pista Cupcakes (Saffron Pistachio)
- Cupcake pan
- Cupcake liners
- Mixing bowl
- 1 cup all purpose flour 125g
- ¾ cup sugar 162g, sifted
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened (room temp)
- 1 cup roast pistachios 138g, ground finely, some chunks ok
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar white vinegar can be substituted
- 1 tsp baking powder
Saffron Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 generous pinches saffron crushed
- 1½ tbsp milk warmed in microwave 20 seconds
- 4 oz cream cheese ½ block
- ¼ cup unsalted butter ½ stick, 2oz
- 1¾ cups powdered sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- extra chopped pistachios for topping
- few strands of saffron
- Roast pistachios and grind into powder. Use 2 tbsp of the flour while grinding to prevent pistachio mixture from becoming pasty.
- Mix milk with vinegar.
- Sift together all dry ingredients except sugar.
- Beat butter on medium until creamy. Slowly beat in sugar until all is incorporated. Beat in extracts.
- Alternating between dry ingredients and milk, slowly beat into butter/sugar mixture until all is combined.
- Heat oven to 350F and line cupcake tin with liners. Pour cupcake batter into liners to about 3/4 full.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes. Check with toothpick to ensure fully baked. Let cool completely before icing so they set up properly.
Saffron Cream Cheese Frosting
- Mix milk and crushed saffron. Let sit to bloom 10 minutes.
- Beat sugar, butter and cream cheese together
- Beat in bloomed saffron milk until fluffy. Spoon into piping bag and top cupcakes.