Sunday, October 18, 2009

Case Study 36: "The Impassioned Pistachio"

I'm finally going back to Italy.

Last week, I found a mixtape I made from four years ago, before I arrived at the airport, bound for a year on the boot. I popped it in, and got to thinking about the twenty year-old me.

Life in Italy brought isolation. Two weeks to find an apartment with two years of worthless classroom Italian made for quite the search. It also brought adventure. I rode through the cobbled streets in the backseat of Fiats faster that I ever imagined, and made eyes at the my local bar's handsome cameriere, prosecco in hand by candlelight and listening to Tolga Trio play Django Reinhardt's classics.  I was full of dreams more colorful than the frescoed ceilings in my Via Zamboni classrooms, and I swear I once reached nirvana on a warm black stone beach in the Aeolian Islands.  I threw myself into anything, just for the experience.  I learned from everything.

"The Impassioned Pistachio" is a pistachio cupcake with a vanilla bean buttercream, crumbled pistachios and a maraschino cherry on top.  Made with Delitia butter, it's full of that earthy terroir only made from the Parma and the Reggio Emilia cows, and a delicate nutty warmth.
As I approach my 25th birthday celebration in Bologna, the city where I lived, I think of how that year changed me.  I'm no longer the girl who came home after a month at college, arms flailing as I passionately tried to convince my parents that Gumboot dancing with the children in South Africa was my true life calling.  I'm also not the new college graduate, entering a different kind of "real world," full of wild hope and cocktail dreams. 

Someone once told me that your late twenties are a little more calm, a little less "rollercoaster ride."  Five years ago, that seemed ludicrous to me, and I snarkily replied, "where's the fun in that?"  But as I approach them, a few years of recklessness, a couple of heartaches and some spontaneous wandering behind me, I finally get what she meant.  Though I feel just like that wide-eyed twenty year old, ready to launch into flight back across the pond, somehow, I feel more grounded than ever.   

"The Impassioned Pistachio" Recipe 
(makes approx. 8-10 cupcakes)

Pistachio Cupcakes
1/2 cup ground unsalted pistachio nuts
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup ground almond flour
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp milk

1. Set the oven at 350ยบ and line a one-dozen cupcake pan, sift together the flour and almond flour.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until combined and fluffy, roughly 3 minutes.  Add vanilla and eggs
3. Add the ground pistachios until combined.
4. Blend in the flour mix and milk ingredients in 3 parts until combined.
5. Fill the cupcake pan and bake 20-22 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Bean Parma Buttercream

1 stick Parma/Reggio Emilia butter
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
4-5 cups confectioner's sugar

1 1/2 tbsp. milk

1. Combine the butter and vanilla bean seeds with a mixer on a medium speed, 3 minutes.
2.Gradually blend in the confectioner's sugar. Cut occasionally with 1-2 tbsp. milk.
3. Frost cupcakes generously, sprinkle crunched pistachios, and add a cherry on top!

1 comment:

Laura said...

you're going back to Bologna?! I'm so jealous!