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Looking for something festive to bake for St. Patrick’s Day? These pistachio muffins are a lovely shade of pastel green. The flavor and color of the muffins comes mainly from pistachio instant pudding mix, which actually doesn’t contain any pistachio at all, but is flavored the way people have come to expect “pistachio” to taste. Add real chopped pistachios, and some bottled pistachio flavor, to enhance their taste nicely.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) butter
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
3.4-ounce package instant pistachio pudding mix*
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon pistachio flavor (optional, but good)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) milk
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shelled, coarsely chopped pistachios
*You may find that national brands give you better green color than store brands.
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) melted butter
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pistachio flavor, to taste
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper or silicone muffin cups, and grease the cups with non-stick vegetable oil spray; this will ensure that they peel off the muffins nicely.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and pudding mix till smooth. Add the eggs, beating for several minutes and scraping the bowl, till the mixture is smooth and shiny. Beat in the baking powder, pistachio flavor, and salt.
Gently beat the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined. Stir in the pistachios, saving out 2 tablespoons to sprinkle atop the muffins, if desired. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups, sprinkling with the reserved nuts.
Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, or until they're starting to brown around the edges and a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Remove them from the oven, and let them cool for a couple of minutes, or until you can handle them. While they're cooling, melt the butter (this is easily done in the microwave). Combine the sugar and pistachio flavor in a jar with a lid, and shake vigorously to combine thoroughly.
Use a pastry brush to paint the top of each muffin with the butter (or dip the top of each muffin in the butter), then sprinkle with (or dip muffin top in) the pistachio sugar. Allow the muffins to cool on a rack.
Yield: 12 muffins.