salty sweet: fluffy pistachio cupcakes with rose milk tea buttercream

Okay, I am so excited about these. I like to watch Food Network to unwind in the evenings, and one time there was a Cupcake Wars marathon on. One girl made a pistachio cupcake, which got me thinking about things that would pair nicely with it (I love pistachio). From doing a little internet research, I noticed that pistachio-rosewater was popular in baked goods, and I thought: wouldn't rose milk tea be even better?!

So I made these. I had to order the rosewater from Amazon (it's pure rosewater, so it's very concentrated), but I'm excited to have a lot of it because it's also very good for your skin (I like to spray a little on my Beauty Blender before I apply foundation, but that's another topic for another post).

The recipe for this fluffy pistachio cake is from possibly my favorite food blog of all time, my name is yeh. Not only is she adorable, but she's ridiculously creative with her recipes and takes gorgeous photos and makes me want to live on a farm. She's pretty much the opposite of your typical lifestyle blogger, but I love her for that. These cupcakes are spectacularly unfussy; you don't even need a mixer, and assuming you've got all the baking staples in your arsenal—flour, sugar, baking powder, etc.)—these should be a piece of cake (HA).

I topped them with this amazing black tea buttercream frosting from Food52 that I infused with the rosewater. It didn't turn out quite the way I wanted it to, but it was still delicious. Catch me adding rosewater to absolutely everything from now on.


Yields: 24 cupcakes
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 15-18 minutes


  • 1 cup roasted unsalted pistachios

  • 1¾ cup granulated sugar

  • 2¼ cup flour

  • 1½ tsp salt

  • 1½ tsp baking powder

  • 1½ tsp baking soda

  • ½ cup vegetable oil

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 1 tsp almond extract

  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

  • ¾ cups water

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Use a food processor to grind 1 cup pistachios into small crumbs. Set aside a handful for decorating.

Pour the remaining crumbs into a large bowl and whisk in the rest of the dry ingredients (1¾ cup sugar, 2¼ cup flour, 1½ tsp salt, 1½ tsp baking powder, 1½ tsp baking soda)

In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the wet ingredients (½ cup vegetable oil, 2 eggs, 1 cup buttermilk, 1 tsp almond extract, 1 tbsp vanilla extract, ¾ cups water), then pour mixture into dry ingredients.

mixing stuff2.gif

Pour into cupcake tins and pop them in the oven. I baked them for about 15 minutes, but keep checking on them. Insert a toothpick into the center and if it comes out clean, they're done.

Let the cakes cool before frosting.


  • 3 bags black tea

  • ⅓ cup whole milk

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 3½ cups confectioner's sugar

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 3 tsp rosewater

While your cakes are cooling, heat up the ⅓ cup of milk in the microwave until nearly boiling (or on the stove), add the content of the 3 tea bags and the 3 tsp rosewater, give it a mix and let it cool.


I microwaved it again to "brew" the milk tea a little more, but PSA: if you do this, do it in small intervals, because this happened when I microwaved it for a minute:

I'm not a fan of grittiness, so I actually strained my milk tea through the tea bag linings, but this cut my mixture down to about half of what I had.

In a medium bowl, beat 1 stick butter until smooth, then add 3½ cups confectioner's sugar one cup at a time, beating until it's very light and fluffy. Add tsp salt and the tea mixture. Mix again until combined.

Keep adding milk and/or sugar until it's the consistency you want it. I added a bit too much milk so I didn't get the buttercream texture I wanted, but oh well.

Frost cupcakes and serve!

These were really good. The pistachio cakes were light, fluffy and a tiny bit salty to balance the very-floral, almost sweet quality of the rosewater. I think I need to steep the tea longer or add more or something, because you couldn't really taste it. And the buttercream itself was a little too soft for my taste (I'm not really a frosting person to begin with). But I was happy with them, especially the cake part. And look how photogenic they are.

More baking experiments soon to come!


P.S. Do you guys like this gif thing? I actually really dig it. The only thing is it destroys the quality/color. But I think it's worth it. It makes it more dynamic.