These Cranberry-Pistachio Cupcakes are sweetly aromatic and soft-textured; from start-to-finish they’ll be ready in just an hour, and it’s perfect if you want just a small batch of something sweet.
This time of year has the tendency to get so busy. With Thanksgiving over, our focus turns to Christmas and all the preparation that goes along with it.
But a moment of peace, however brief, is a most welcome retreat in December. Even if it’s just taking an hour to make these cupcakes and then enjoying one with a cup of tea. I can’t think of anything more comforting than the smell of something sweet baking on a chilly afternoon in December, especially if snow is softly falling.
As with so many of my baked goods – particularly baked goods where I feature the flavors of cranberry, cherry, or almond – mahlab plays a role in these cupcakes. (If you’re interested, I talk more about mahlab in my post on Cherry Sauce.) Mahlab helps make these cupcakes sweetly aromatic and adds a special unique touch that people will know is in there, but won’t be able to put their finger on what exactly it is. If you can’t find mahlab, you can add 1/2 teaspoon or so of pure almond extract instead, for a somewhat similar flavor.
These cupcakes are soft-textured and moist; they’re sweet, but the tart bursts of fresh cranberry add balance. Although they have a very muffin-like look to them, their flavor is much more cake-like than their appearance lets on.
These cupcakes are perfect for an afternoon getaway in the midst of life’s chaos. Enjoy them with someone you love.
- ¾ cup (150 g) sugar
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup (60 ml) avocado oil or light olive oil
- ¼ cup (60 ml) milk
- ¼ cup (60 g) sour cream or Greek yogurt
- 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1¼ cups (160 g) all-purpose flour
- 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground mahlab
- ½ cup (55 g) whole fresh cranberries, chopped
- ¼ cup (30 g) unsalted pistachios, chopped
- ⅔ cup (77 g) powdered sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 pinch fine salt
- 2-3 teaspoons water (more or less as needed)
- Butter and flour, for the muffin tray
- Fresh cranberries and/or chopped unsalted pistachios, for topping
- Preheat the oven to 350F; butter and flour 6 wells in a regular-sized muffin tray (or line them with paper liners).
- Whisk together the sugar, egg, oil, milk, sour cream, and vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt, and mahlab, and stir to combine. Fold in the cranberries and pistachios.
- Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tray (they’ll be really full). Bake until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
- Cool for 10 minutes in the tray, and then carefully remove the cupcakes and let them finish cooling on a wire rack.
- Once cooled, mix together all ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl, adding the water a little at a time until your desired consistency is reached.
- Spread the glaze on top of the cupcakes and immediately decorate with cranberries and/or pistachios if desired.
Here are a few of my favorite baked goods that also feature cranberry and mahlab…
Cranberry-Chocolate-Almond Thumbprint Cookies
I love pistachio – these cupcakes look perfect! And so festive.
Cookin Canuck says
My daily cup of tea is always a time to sit back and relax for a few minutes – absolutely necessary during the holidays, as you said. These cupcakes would be the perfect treat to go with my tea!
Nancy | The Bitter Side of Sweet says
I would love to have some peace to make these! Maybe after my move! The flavors are great!
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
Such pretty and festive cupcakes for the season!
Lauren @ Healthy Delicious says
These look so dainty and perfect!
Renee - Kudos Kitchen says
I’ve never before heard of mahlab before, but I’ll be on the look out for it now. I love almond extract so I know I would love it too. I also would have never thought of using avocado oil in a sweet cupcake, but why not? I love it too and it makes these cupcakes healthy :)
[email protected] says
These are such pretty cupcakes, Faith. I’m going to look for Mahlab, it sounds like a lovely addition to desserts.
Kacey @ The Cookie Writer says
Okay, these look and sound amazing! My husband usually gets a bag of pistachios for Christmas, so I know when I can make these! I really wish I had one right now!