With each new year it seems my tastes expand, as I begin to enjoy things that I used to place in the I-wouldn’t-touch-that-with-a-ten-foot-fork category. Foods that I just didn’t like before are now becoming new favorites as I lose the sensitivities that made me so picky as a kid.
Among these new favorites is the pistachio. The green little buggers are a royal pain to get into, but I suppose that’s part their grandness: it takes a lot of work to crack them open, so eating the nutmeats once you do is more rewarding. Plus, as a snacking fiend who is well aware of her mindless eating problem, I’ll take any snack that requires some genuine effort and time before consumption is made possible!
My newfound love for pistachios has opened the door to so many tasty possibilities, and I seek them out wherever I can. And when I can’t find what I’m searching for, I make it myself.
Pistachios are naturally sweet, so I paired them with sour Montmorency cherries for a complex and nicely contrasting palette of flavors in this delightful muffin.
Vegan Pistachio Cherry Muffins
2 c. white sugar, granulated
1 c. vegetable oil
2 tbsp. ground flax seed
6 tbsp. water
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. almond milk
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3/4 c. pistachio kernels, roughly chopped
3/4 c. pistachio kernels (see below for instructions on grinding)
3/4 c. dried, pitted montmorency cherries, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. pistachio kernels, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 350°.
Prepare a “buttermilk” by combining almond milk and apple cider vinegar. The almond milk will begin to curdle immediately. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. Set aside.
To prepare the pistachio paste, place 3/4 cup of pistachio kernels in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process the nuts for 30 seconds and scrape down the side of the bowl. Process for another 30 seconds. Finished paste will have a dry, coarse consistency. You may process the pistachios for an additional 30 seconds if needed. Set aside.
In a small saucepan combine ground flax and water and heat over medium. Stir until mixture obtains gelatinous consistency (about 1-2 minutes). Remove from heat. Set aside.
Cream the sugar and oil in a large bowl. Add the flax mixture slowly, then the vanilla, beating until incorporated.
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed sugar, alternating with the almond “buttermilk”, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary and beating until just incorporated. Beat in the pistachio paste and fold in the chopped nuts and cherries.
Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spoon or scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin – fill each cavity to just below the top lip of the liner. Sprinkle remaining chopped pistachio kernels evenly on muffins.
Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool slightly before unmolding.
YIELD: 24 muffins