By Special Request

It was an innocent enough question- A simple query, with no ulterior motives. Muffins, pistachio muffins, to be precise, were the object of one good friend’s desires, and no recipe could be found. Might I possibly have one, hidden away some place by chance? Despite the volumes of unshared recipes and ideas stashed away in various notebooks and files buried deep within my hard drive, I hadn’t yet thought to make such a breakfast cake… And yet all of a sudden, it felt imperative that I did.

After all, pistachios are one of my all-time favorite nuts, and they get so little attention, it’s just pitiful. So much praise and love is lavished on almonds, cashews, and the like, but this darling green gem is all but forgotten in the corner of the bulk bin. Though it would be impossible to accommodate all baking requests, this one quickly became much less of a favor for a friend, but a treat for myself!

Adopting the project in a blink of the eye, I set about plotting how I could make mine better than the average, neon-green and highly artificial bakery-style pistachio muffins. Instead of abandoning the traditional albeit exaggerated coloring altogether, it seemed a fun challenge to preserve it in a more natural fashion.

Matcha, my beloved green tea powder, fit the bill perfectly. Contributing both a vibrant hue and delicate flavor, this is a mix far more complex than the typical plain old nut muffin. Richly flavored with both ground and whole pistachios, those green kernels definitely steal the show, but leave enough room for a delicious cameo by the subtle sweetness of maple syrup, the bitterness of the green tea, and the gentle acidity of the lemon, creating one well-balanced baked good.

Pistachio Matcha Muffins

1 Cup Shelled, Toasted Pistachios, Divided
1 1/2 Cups White Whole Wheat Flour, Divided
2 Teaspoons Matcha Powder*
1 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest (Optional)
1/3 Cup Canola Oil
1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

*To make a purely pistachio muffin that’s still green, substitute 1 tablespoon of spinach powder for the matcha. Otherwise, you can omit it entirely.

Preheat your the oven to 400 degrees, and either lightly grease or line 6 standard muffin tins with paper wrappers. Set aside.

Pull out your food processor or blender, and place half of the pistachios, along with 1/2 cup of the flour and all of the matcha in the bowl. Pulse the mixture until you achieve a coarse but even meal. Transfer the dry goods into a large mixing bowl.

To that, add the remaining flour and whole pistachios, plus the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. Stir to evenly distribute all of the ingredients.

Separately, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, apple sauce, and vanilla before pouring these wet ingredients into the bowl of dry. Use a wide spatula to bring the batter together, stirring as little as possible to make sure you don’t overwork it and end up with tough muffins; A few errant lumps are just fine.

Mound the batter up nice and high into your prepared muffin tins (I used a large cookie scoop – About 3 – 4 tablespoons – and placed two full scoops inside each indentation.) Slide your muffins into the oven, and immediately reduce the heat to 375 degrees. Bake for 18 – 22 minutes, until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack.

Makes 6 Large Muffins

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