Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Orange Pistachio Muffins

I am something of a teacher-pleaser. I am also somewhat lazy, which means I was never consistently A+ material. But that desire to meet expectations, to be thought of as a pleasure (and not, as those of us with questionable parenting occasionally fear, a burden) runs deep. And this compulsion extends to surprising places. Such as, on a recent Tuesday, doggie daycare.

Now, I am wholly convinced of the virtues of my dog, and the appeal of his gentle nature and all-around positive attitude (not a family trait). But I figure it doesn't hurt to stack the deck. And so, when I drop him off to spend a few hours at doggie daycare, I'm not above throwing in a little sugar to help make him the teachers' pet. Like these orange pistachio muffins.

I am normally a hard sell on the sweet breakfast, preferring the protein hit of the humble egg. But these muffins are perfect — a light and lovely mix of rich green pistachios and punchy orange zest, tender and sweet without veering into cupcake territory. While I do love to start the day with an apple (I've been obsessed with the Pink Lady recently), I'd argue that these make an even better gift for the teacher. Gold star!

Orange Pistachio Muffins 

yields 10 muffins (you can portion the batter to make an even dozen, but I favor a nearly-overflowing muffin, as what's the fun of a muffin without a nice muffintop?)

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 stick butter, melted and slightly cooled (if you fancy, brown the butter in a small saucepan, melting it until it takes on a toasty color, for an even more delicious depth of flavor)
2/3 cup sugar, plus additional for topping
1 egg
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup orange juice
zest from 1 orange
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom or rosewater (optional)
1/2 heaping cup chopped pistachios, plus additional for topping

Preheat your oven to 375° Fahrenheit. Grease 10 muffin cups, and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix together the melted butter, sugar, egg, sour cream, orange juice and zest, and extract(s) until well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dries, give a turn or two, then sprinkle in the pistachios. Mix until just barely combined (better to under- than over-mix).

Quickly divide the mixture into muffin cups, coming just a bit below the lip of the cup. Sprinkle a dusting of sugar over the batter (you should need just a few spoonfuls for the whole tray), and then top with a sprinkling of pistachios. Bake until lightly golden and a tester comes out clean, ~15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then pop out of the muffin tin, wrap in a clean tea towel, and present to your teacher (or anyone else you desire).


  1. Pistachios are my favorite... well, between them and macadamias, but it's close. I love sour cream in muffins too, and fully agree about the muffintop. I don't agree that I'd categorize you as lazy however...

    1. Oh you don't know the depths of my laziness. But oh, what sour cream does for a muffin...