Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Week of Muffins: Pistachio-Chai Muffins

Marching on with our week filled with diverse, delicious muffins, we'll discuss Pistachio-Chai muffins today! These muffins are the only ones out of this whole week's worth that contain nuts. We love pistachios, and I don't think I've ever made a muffin with pistachios in them until now. I have to say, they really work great. They're slightly salty, even though I bought the raw, pre-shelled kind, and it was a nice contrast to the sweet muffin.

Unlike Martha Stewart's Chai Cupcakes, which I made not too long ago, these enlist the use of the contents of a couple of chai tea bags. With Martha's cupcakes, you infused the milk that went into the cake batter with black tea, then added into the dry ingredients the usual spices you would find in a chai tea. So, the end results are actually pretty different. With these muffins, you can see little flecks of the tea leaves running through the batter, and in the finished product. Plus, these are even more dense than the cupcakes were, and those cupcakes were on the denser side.

That's not to say these muffins are bad, though; on the contrary, they're great if you're looking for something that tastes vastly different from your run-of-the-mill muffin. The tea makes it taste exotic; the nuts give it a nice texture. One note: there's a simple powdered sugar glaze in the recipe for these; you'll notice in my pictures that I left that off my muffins. I was trying to cut down on the sugar, but feel free to try the glaze for yourself.

Pistachio-Chai Muffins
adapted from Cooking Light
makes 12 muffins

7.9 oz. (about 1 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 chai blend tea bags, opened
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp. Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread, melted
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Nonstick cooking spray
1/3 cup shelled, dry-roasted pistachios, chopped
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. water

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut open tea bags; add tea to flour mixture, stirring well.

2. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Combine buttermilk, butter, Smart Balance, vanilla, and egg in a separate bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

3. Place 12 muffin-cup liners in a muffin tin and spray each with nonstick cooking spray (I simply sprayed my muffin tin with spray, which worked fine). Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle nuts evenly over batter. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan before turning the muffins out onto a cooling rack.

4. Combine the remaining 1/2 tsp. vanilla, powdered sugar, and 1 Tbsp. water, stirring until smooth. Drizzle evenly over the muffins.

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