RECIPE: Pistachio Cream Filled Vanilla Cupcakes Topped with Pistachio Brittle



Pistachio Cream Filled Vanilla Cupcakes Topped with Pistachio Brittle  

Ingredients:

Cupcake
(adapted from my previous post, http://www.urbandomesticdiva.com/2011/06/recipe-billys-vanilla-vanilla-cupcakes.html)
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups Baker's or regular sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, softened
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean,  split in half and seeds scraped out

Pistachio Cream
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/4 cup Baker's or regular sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup salted and roasted shelled pistachios, chopped finely in a food processor

Frosting
2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon Caster or Baker's sugar
3 tablespoons water
generous pinch of cream of tartar
2 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Pistachio Brittle
1/3 cup salted and roasted shelled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
½ cup Caster or Baker's sugar
¼ cup water
Directions:

Make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 325°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine flours, sugar, baking powder with a fork. Add butter, and using a paddle attachment, mix and mush until butter is evenly distributed and the mixture resembles cornmeal.

In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla extract and vanilla seeds from the vanilla bean. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat.

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about two-thirds full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 


 With a small paring knife, core a hole in each middle of the cupcakes, careful to not go all the way to the bottom. Set the cupcakes aside until filling is ready. I save discarded cake cores in a zip-lock bag, and freeze it to use in future cake pop batter (more on this in my "3 cake pop hacks" post)

Make the filling:





In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla extract just until small bubbles appear around the edge. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with the granulated sugar and cornstarch. Gradually whisk in the warm milk. Transfer the mixture to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, whisking vigorously, until very thick, smooth and shiny, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ground pistachios, and mix. Scrape into a bowl and let cool slightly. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.


In a medium bowl, beat the heavy cream until firm peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream. Transfer half to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain tip. Pipe the cream into each hole of each cupcake. 




Make the brittle: 
Line a baking sheet with a piece of foil,  butter it and place the pistachio nuts on top. Set aside. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to the boil, brushing the sugar crystals from the inside of the saucepan with a wet pastry brush. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until dark golden. Remove from the heat and pour toffee over the nuts. Allow to cool completely.
Break up the pistachio praline into large pieces (you may need to use a rolling pin or mallet to smash up the brittle in a plastic baggie for pieces suitable for cupcake topping.) Set aside.

















Make the frosting:
Place the sugar, water, vanilla extract and cream of tartar in a small saucepan over high heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 3 minutes. Then, let the syrup cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until soft peaks form. While the motor is still running, gradually add the sugar mixture and beat until thick and glossy.

Assembly:
Spread the icing over the cream filled cupcakes with a palette knife and top with the pistachio praline. Store at room temperature covered with plastic wrap. This kind of frosting does not do well refrigerated.

(adapted by a few recipes, http://technicolorkitcheninenglish.blogspot.com/2009/09/vanilla-cupcakes-with-pistachio-praline.html, and http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/pistachio-cream-filled-eclairs-and-cream-puffs

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