The Best Way To Incorporate Pistachio Into Your Baked Goods

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Maybe there's a pecan pie on your Thanksgiving table every year. Perhaps you top your bear claws with slivered almonds. But, today, we're talking about one of the more underappreciated yet delicious nuts in the baking world: pistachios. There's no flavor quite like the uniquely sweet, bright, warmly nutty profile of the pistachio. But, chopped nuts aren't always a welcome addition when it comes to baked goods with smoother textures. That's why the best way to incorporate pistachio into your baked goods is with a pistachio paste. It'll likely feel familiar if you've ever worked with almond paste before.

In addition to the pistachio flavor, pistachio paste also adds a dimensional richness and moisture to baked goods, says Serious Eats. You can use it to flavor doughs, pastry fillings, frostings, ice creams, and more. The limited is pretty much home bakers' imaginations. Make a recipe for pistachio macarons with it. Bon Appétit suggests using it as a pancake topping, icing cookies with it, putting it in a milkshake, stirring it into oatmeal, or spreading it on toast and biscuits.

Per American Pistachio Growers, another major perk of homemade pistachio paste is its potential for customization. You can add as much or as little sugar as you please to suit your palette. Plus, you can adjust the sugar content to suit specific recipes. You might want a sweeter pistachio paste for frosting cupcakes, but a less sweet bite for making French Madeline dough. Here's how to make it work for your baked goods.

We're nuts about pistachios

Stephen Durfee, a chef instructor at the Culinary Institute of America (via American Pistachio Growers), says to lightly toast your pistachios in the oven. Blanching the nuts beforehand will give your paste a brighter green color, but you can also skip this step. Once they're heated through, transfer them to a food processor and grind – grind for a while. The nuts' natural oils will come out during the grinding and provide all the liquid components you need. If you've ever made homemade peanut butter, says Durfee, then you'll likely recognize the process. 

But, you can also add in an oil of your choice for a smoother blend. This professionally manufactured pistachio paste from Vincente Delicacies uses palm and sunflower oils as added emulsifying agents. Another version by Pistacchiosa uses extra virgin olive oil. From there, add in as much sugar as you like, and that's it. You can even toss a little white chocolate into the mix to make a "gianduja" for sweeter recipes, says Durfee.

Once you've made your pistachio paste, wrap it in cellophane and it'll keep in the refrigerator for at least two weeks. When you're ready to use it, Serious Eats suggests slicing with dental floss instead of a knife to avoid smushing it.