Thursday, August 4, 2016

Zucchini Cupcakes with Honey Pistachio Buttercream

If there is one thing that grows in Utah, it's zucchini. We have a prolific plant in our garden and now, we have zucchini for daaaaaays. It's hard to know what to do with it. You always start with zucchini bread. That's really the only logical place to start. But then you have to branch out. Zucchini fritters, zucchini noodles, zucchini bars. Oodles and oodles of zucchini. And if Pinterest is any indication, I'm not alone. Every kitchen in America appears to be drowning in green squash.

Zucchini Cupcakes

So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work, creating these little bright bites of zucchini lemon cupcake. And then I slathered them with the most exquisitely rich buttercream I've ever had the pleasure of devouring. This honey pistachio frosting is chock full of smooth sweetness and roasted nuttiness. It's a good thing I made these as petite cupcakes. Pretty sure the four I ate already added two pounds to the saddlebags on my thighs. I can't find it in myself to care. Shrug.

Zucchini Cupcakes
Cupcake Collusion
We begin with an ingredient roundup. While we refer to these as cupcakes, let's do a little fact check here. Technically, these are probably more of a muffin. 

Zucchini Cupcakes
All mixed up
Beat together the wet ingredients. Mix together the dry ingredients. Fold gently. 

Zucchini Cupcakes
Shredded Squash
Next comes the important part. The zucchini. Squash holds A LOT of water, so after you grate this stuff, squeeze the moisture out of it with some well placed paper towels and a little muscle. Otherwise, you get soggy cupcakes. That shit is not gonna fly.

Zucchini Cupcakes
Ready for a close-up
Load up your mini cupcake pan and bake. They take longer than you'd think for min cupcakes because zucchini is pretty dense, so definitely check the middles with a toothpick before you pull them out. 

Zucchini Cupcakes
Baked Beauties
They don't puff up like airy cupcakes do, but we're gonna slather them in frosting to make up for all their deficiencies. It's a good life lesson. Frosting fixes everything.

Zucchini Cupcakes
Buttercream buddies
This buttercream was pretty much all my idea. I'm totally taking credit for it. It began as a recipe for maple walnut buttercream. It ended as something much, much better.

Zucchini Cupcakes
Fantastic Frosting
These cupcakes turned out purdy delightful, and it's not just because I shot them on an old steamer trunk I got at a garage sale. But still, something was missing. Aha! I forgot to sprinkle on the fairy dust. It's just finely chopped pistachios, but it gives me superpowers.

Zucchini Cupcakes
Fanciful focus
There you have it, friends. If you're looking to bake up a batch of sweets from the bounty of your own backyard garden, look no further than this recipe. It's the perfect way to turn squash into sensational.
Zucchini Cupcakes
Zany Zucchini
Zucchini Cupcakes

Zucchini Cupcakes with Honey Pistachio Buttercream

For the cupcakes (adapted from Constellation Inspiration):
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp canola or coconut oil
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup grated zucchini, drained
3 tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

For the buttercream (adapted from The Food Charlatan
3/4 cup finely chopped pistachios, toasted
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Preheat the oven at 350F and put liners in mini muffin or cupcake pan. 

Whisk together all the dry ingredients and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the oil, sugar, and lemon zest together on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time.

Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until the dry ingredients are no longer visible. Careful not to over mix.Gently fold in the zucchini, buttermilk, and lemon juice. 

Divide the batter into the mini cupcake pan and bake for 12 - 14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool for 10 - 15 minutes before removing them from the pan.

Chop up the pistachios in a food processor. You want pretty finely chopped nuts here so you can still pipe the frosting without clogging the tip.
Set a frying pan over medium heat. Add the pistachios and stir occasionally until they start to smell delicious, or until they barely start to brown. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter for several minutes until it's fluffy.
Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and honey. Beat well.
Add 1 cup powdered sugar, lemon extract, and salt. Beat well.
Add the chopped pistachios when they are completely cooled and beat it briefly until incorporated. Try not to eat all the frosting since we still need some for the cupcakes, mmm kay?

Pin this recipe here: 

Did you think these tiny treats were terrific? Come follow A Sweet Little Life on Pinterest to catch more inspiration. 


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