One of my favourite fruits in Summer is bright red, fresh cherries and these Cherry Pistachio Cupcakes are a scrumptious way to celebrate both cherries and Summer.

Many of my cupcakes start the same way, melted butter. That’s right, no waiting for butter to soften here. I find the melted butter not only makes it easier to throw these cupcakes together, but it also gives the cupcakes extra moisture without making them dense. I almost feel like this is my foolproof way to make cupcakes light and fluffy as the batter comes together so quickly.

Overhead view of cupcakes with pistachio crumbs and a fresh cherry on top.

I never used to love cherries like I do now. These days I can’t wait to see them arrive in the stores so I can make things like my Easy Baked Cheesecake with Fresh Cherry Sauce and my Cherry and Coconut Chocolate Tart.

Handy equipment

How to make Pistachio Cupcakes

2 photos: pistachios in a blender, ground pistachio in a blender.

You start by blitzing whole pistachios to crumbs in a food processor or blender.

2 photos: adding wet and dry ingredients together, cupcake batter in a glass bowl.

The batter is simple. Mix together your dry ingredients and set them aside, then beat your eggs until they have lightened. An electric hand beater makes short work of this. Now add the buttermilk and vanilla and beat them in, followed by the melted (but cooled butter).

Pour half of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and use a spatula now to mix it through. At this point, you only want to be mixing by hand and only until the ingredients are just combined. The cupcakes can become tough if you overmix the batter. Add the remaining wet ingredients and mix through.

2 photos: dividing cake batter in red muffin tins, baked pistachio cupcakes on a wire rack.

Batter done, you can use a medium ice cream scoop to portion it out between your cupcake cases. I love using these silicone muffin trays as the cupcakes turn out nice and tall as opposed to wide. In my opinion, it makes them easier to frost and not use too much frosting (since I already like to pile it on, as it is).

Bake these for 22-24 minutes but only until a toothpick comes out with just a crumb or two clinging. This way you know they are still moist. They will finish cooking themselves just from residual heat.

How about that cherry compote

I love this cherry compote and it’s the perfect surprise centre for my Cherry Pistachio Cupcakes.

Collage of 3 photos showing how to make cherry compote.

Place the de-stoned fresh cherries in a saucepan with some water, lemon juice and sugar and bring it all to a simmer, stirring. Now let it bubble away for around 10 minutes until almost all the liquid has disappeared. Make sure to stir it every so often, then use a stick mixer or hand blender to puree the cherries a little. Leave a few chunky bits in there for texture.

Collage of 2 photos showing how to cut a hole into cupcakes for filling.

I use a cupcake corer to cut little holes in the centre of each cupcake to fill them, but you can use just a sharp paring knife.

2 photos: filling pistachio cupcakes with cherry compote, placing the cutout piece of cupcakes back to cover the holes.

Each whole is filled with cherry compote, then I like to plug the whole with a little bit of the cake offcuts but this is totally optional.

And that two toned buttercream

3 photos: white and green frosting in pastry bags next to cherry pistachio cupcakes, adding green frosting, adding white frosting.

This is actually one simple vanilla buttercream with more pistachio (and a touch of colouring) added to half the mix. Place two fifths of it in one piping bag and the remaining in a second piping bag. I just pipe a flat circle of pistachio buttercream and fill in the centre. You could just use a knife to spread that layer on. Then I like to pipe a dome of vanilla buttercream on top and top the whole thing off with a fresh, bright red cherry. Beautiful.

A Cherry Pistachio Cupcake cut open to reveal the filling inside.

These are insanely delicious. Cherry and pistachio actually pair so well together – in fact I find fruit and nuts in general are bestest buddies – but to me these cupcakes scream “hello Summer”. A lovely treat with nice coffee to get your Summer weekend started maybe?

These cupcakes can be made 1-2 days ahead and just kept in the fridge. The cakes without the filling or buttercream can be frozen to, so you can make them up to 3 months in advance.

If storing the cupcakes in the freezer, I find the best way is to first freeze them for half an hour on a baking tray, then transfer the frozen cupcakes to a freezer safe bag. I like to double bag them or place that bag inside an airtight container to keep them extra safe. Once made the cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, but take them out 1/2 an hour before serving to give them a chance to soften and relax.

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A Cherry Pistachio Cupcake on a small white plate, more cupcakes in the background.

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Cherry Pistachio Cupcakes are an amazing combination of pistachio cupcake, cherry compote centre and pistachio and vanilla buttercreams. All topped off with a gorgeous fresh cherry.

Cherry Pistachio Cupcakes

5 from 3 votes
Cherry Pistachio Cupcakes are an amazing combination of pistachio cupcake, cherry compote centre and pistachio and vanilla buttercreams. All topped off with a gorgeous fresh cherry.

Ingredients

Pistachio Cupcake

  • 2/3 cup (100g) pistachios
  • 145 (1 cup + 1 tbsp) plain (all purp) flour
  • 20 corn flour (cornstarch)
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated white sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons  baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 75 (2/3 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup  buttermilk
  • teaspoon vanilla

Fresh cherry compote

  • 300 fresh cherries
  • 1 tablespoon  water (notes)
  • 1 tablespoon  lemon juice (notes)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (notes)

Vanilla and Pistachio Buttercream

  • 250  unsalted butter, softened
  • cups  icing (powdered / confectioners) sugar
  • teaspoons  vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • tablespoon  milk  (notes)
  • 50 g pistachios
  • Green food colouring

Instructions
 

Pistachio cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan forced) / 350F. Line 12 muffin tin holes with paper cupcake cases.
  • Blitz pistachios to crumbs
  • In a large bowl, sift together the plain flour, corn flour baking powder and salt. Add the sugar and pistachio crumbs and stir well so everything is evenly distributed
  • Beat the eggs well, until they become frothy (you can do this by hand, or with a hand beater or in a stand mixer). Add the buttermilk and vanilla and mix well. Now add the melted butter while whisking to completely combine.
  • Pour half of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir well. When mixed through add the rest of the wet ingredients and stir just enough to fully combine everything.
  • Fill the cupcake liners about ¾ full, then bake for 22-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out with just a few crumbs on it. Make sure to turn the tray halfway through cooking so they all cook evenly.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before transferring the cupcakes to a wire rack.

Fresh cherry compote

  • Set aside 12 of the fresh cherries. Halve and pit the rest (I just run a small paring knife around the middle of the cherry, break it in half & then dig out the pit).
  • In a small saucepan, combine the cut cherries, water, lemon juice and sugar and bring to a boil over low-medium heat. Let it bubble away, stirring every so often until it thickens and almost all the juice disappears. Use a stick mixer to break down the cherries a little, but you don't want to make a puree.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until required.

To fill the cupcakes

  • Use a cupcake corer or small knife to remove about 1 teaspoon of cake from the centre of each cake. Fill with the cooled cherry compote. Plug the top with a little offcut of the cake that was removed (optional).
  • Vanilla and pistachio buttercream
  • In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter along with ½ cup of the icing sugar for 8 minutes (yes, that long. We’re going for whipped butter here). Scrape down the sides as necessary and continue beating.
  • With the mixer on low, add the remaining sugar 1 spoon at a time until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as required. Add the salt, both extracts and milk and beat for 5 minutes at medium speed until it looks light and thick and creamy.
  • Use a food processor to blitz the pistachios to very fine crumbs and set aside.
  • Split the buttercream 2/5 and 3/5 into 2 bowls. Sift the finest crumbs of the pistachios into the smaller quantity of buttercream and set the chunkier pieces aside. Mix the fine pistachio crumbs and a little green food colouring (if using) through. Transfer both buttercreams to separate piping bags.
  • Pipe (or spread) a flat disk of green buttercream onto the top of each cupcake (I do a circle around the outside and then fill it. Now pipe a large dollop of the white buttercream on top.
  • Scatter over the remaining pistachio crumbs and top with a fresh cherry.

Notes

  1. I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equiv 4 teaspoons worldwide.
  2. Why the corn flour / cornstarch? I add cornstarch to much of my baking as cake flour is less readily available in Australia. Feel free to use cake flour in place of both the all purpose flour and the cornstarch.
  3. For best results you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).

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Cherry Pistachio Cupcakes are an amazing combination of pistachio cupcake, cherry compote centre and pistachio and vanilla buttercreams. All topped off with a gorgeous fresh cherry.