It’s a cold and windy Friday afternoon in Milwaukee, and I’m busy in the kitchen making Lemon Pistachio Cornmeal Muffins, this week’s Baked Sunday Mornings assignment. It’s not an assignment I’m tackling with much aplomb. Cornmeal? Yes. Lemons? Absolutely! Pistachios? *womp womp* God Lord, NO! I seriously wish I could man up and power through these things, but I just…can’t. To my credit, I stuck true to the recipe and used pistachios when I could have easily substituted almonds… but it was a stretch, let me tell you. The Baked guys are pretty well known for their unique flavor combinations, and this one is obviously no exception. I love their recipe for Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins, and they were a tremendous hit at a cafe I used to bake for here in town.
It’s really hard to explain my disgust for most nuts. It may have its genesis in the fact that I nearly choked on a cashew one Christmas at my grandmother’s when I was about 4 years old (and cashews are the MOST repulsive of all nuts to me). I’m fairly certain that most of it is due to texture, combined with a taste that just makes my stomach churn – and not in a good way. Seriously. It’s unfortunate, because nuts are a pretty heavily-favored ingredient in many baked goods. I do like almonds and pecans. I maintain, however, that – even if I were an ardent nut lover – I would never, EVER ruin good brownies by stirring in nuts. Brownies are meant to be pure, unadulterated, dense chocolate bliss. But I digress.
Back to these muffins. The first step involves chopping a 1/2 cup of raw, shelled pistachios in a food processor. You first want to chop them up coarse, reserving a 1/4 cup of coarse pistachios to sprinkle on the tops of the muffins. Grind away at the rest of the pistachios until they are somewhat close to being a powder. I took it as close to POWDER as I could. If I’m going to diminish those nuts in any way, I’m going to obliterate them as much as I can. Whisk the finely-ground pistachios with your dry ingredients, which includes a healthy helping of cornmeal (yay for disguising the pistachio’s texture even further).
The wet ingredients for these muffins include eggs, sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, and melted butter. I nearly cried at the thought of sacrificing a whole 3/4 cup of good sour cream into these muffins, but I plowed through (I could eat sour cream by the spoonful out of the container, I love it so much). Simply make a well in the center of your dry ingredients, pour in the wet, and gently fold it all together. I used a big muffin scoop to scoop out the batter into regular-sized (not jumbo) muffin pans which I lightly buttered. As a finishing touch, I sprinkled the coarse pistachios on top, then popped all of the muffins into the oven for about 15 minutes to bake off. Meanwhile, as if I were attacking a pestilence, I vigorously scrubbed every bowl and utensil that touched anything pistachio in scalding hot water!
After removing the muffins from the oven, I let them cool in the pans for about 10 to 15 minutes, after which they came out of the pan quite easily. I wish that the muffin tops on my homemade muffins would puff up and out as large as the ‘muffin top’ around my (body’s) middle (HA!), but sadly – at least with these muffins – it was not to be. They were discouragingly flat on top and not too pretty, presentation-wise. For this reason, I might suggest baking them in decorative or brightly-colored muffin papers if you are making them for an event or special party.
If you’re a lemon and pistachio fan, and generally enjoy cornmeal muffins, these are a good recipe for you to make. You’ll adore them for their unique combination of flavors. Believe it or not, despite my distaste for pistachios, I (only a small bit begrudgingly) sampled the fruits of my labor. You see, I wanted to be a good sport. And you can see my first taste in this week’s video:
Despite my surprise response in the video, I should note for you that I could not finish the muffin. The couple bites you saw me take were pretty much it, before I was done. My eyes also became red and itchy for a while afterwards. I don’t know if this was an allergic reaction or not… very odd.
The immediate flavor is definitely lemon, heightened by a nice chewiness from the cornmeal, finished with a small kick of toasty pistachio. This aftertaste is, obviously, what kept me from eating my entire muffin. I didn’t want things to get ugly, so I stopped.
Would I make these again? Probably not. I picked at one, my boyfriend ate another, but these muffins will probably end up tossed. This week was another example that, however much I adore and revere those fabulous Baked guys, not every recipe is a winner for everyone, even a big fan like me – and that’s okay! Different strokes for different folks, right? This should not stop you from checking out this relatively simple recipe if you get a kick out of any of the ingredients that go into them. Click on the recipe link above (first paragraph, title of the recipe in purple) and make sure you check out how my fellow baker friends enjoyed this week’s recipe. I know I will be in the minority on this one!
Next Week: Sunday Night Cake ~ finally, back on track with flavors I enjoy! Don’t know what Baked means by “Sunday Night” Cake? Well, you can bet that it doesn’t include bananas, malt, or pistachios! Stay tuned…