Gorgeously green, light, fluffy pistachio cupcakes topped with a creamy cannoli frosting with hints of orange and lemon zest and mini chocolate chips! Cannoli cupcakes are always a hit – add them to your list of favorite cupcakes.
Guys, let’s talk cannolis. I freaking love cannolis. I’m lucky enough to have a pretty great bakery down the street from my house that makes killer chocolate chip cannolis, and the iconic Mike’s Pastry in the North End of Boston that I can stop by (and wait in an epic line for) during the work day. I say lucky, but what I really mean is completely screwed because I’m dieting and cannolis are in no way diet-friendly.
Regardless, they are easily accessible and it prevents me from having to make them at home. The only reason I don’t really care for making them myself is because then I have to deal with a pot of molten hot oil that will inevitably end up all over the counters, the microwave, my arms, the cats, that fox in the yard… it’s just too much.
I get scared of hot oil, which always makes it worse – because I get too tentative and drop the shells in for too long, or it’s uneven, or something. It’s just bad news bears.
So due to the oil and my arms and that fox, I like to leave cannolis to the pros. Me? I like to make cannoli cupcakes instead. But not just cannoli cupcakes – chocolate chip cannoli frosting with hints of lemon and orange zest on top of light, fluffy, perfectly green pistachio cupcakes.
I’ve never been a huge fan of crushed pistachios on my cannolis, but for some reason I really love the cannoli filling on top of pistachio-flavored cupcakes… with some chopped pistachios on top.
Side note: Don’t go trying to chop them yourself with a knife, it’ll drive you batty. Throw them in your food processor and pulse it a few times – no effort required. These are the moments when I’m totally okay with robots taking over.
I don’t pretend to understand myself.
And I even found myself crushing some extra pistachios and chucking them at the frosting as a garnish. No really – I try to do it all nice and delicately, like the above photo, but I end up throwing toppings at the cupcakes to stick them to the edge and it makes me look like I’m in a one-sided food fight. Like the below – it got hit from the left, and hard:
Things are weird in my kitchen, you guys. There’s a reason I haven’t done any Facebook Live videos of me prepping a recipe… it’s a hot mess.
The cupcakes are light, but don’t worry about them not being able to support a tower of frosting – they make the perfect base for it. One of the key ingredients to make that so is high quality cake flour.
I only use King Arthur Flour cake flour and I can’t recommend it enough. Side note: they have no idea who I am, I’m just a seriously loyal fan.
The frosting isn’t heavy and holds up well to being piped, so it would be beautiful on a cake (and I may or may not be doing that soon).
I hope you love these as much as I do!
After you’ve made this recipe, please consider coming back to share your experience with others by leaving a comment below with a star rating!
Pistachio Cupcakes with Cannoli Frosting
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 cup pistachios, shelled and divided
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure almond extract, or 1 teaspoon pistachio flavoring
- ½ cup sour cream, room temperature
- ½ cup milk
- Green food coloring, I use 2 drops of this gel paste
- 15 ounces ricotta, drained
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- ¾ cup confectioners sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¾ cup mini chocolate chips
Prepare the cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners and set aside.
- In a food processor, pulse pistachios until they produce crumbs - but not too fine, you don't want pistachio dust! See picture above for reference. Place 1-2 tablespoons in a small bowl and set aside (you'll use these for garnish).
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, ground pistachios (all but what you reserved for garnish), baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In another large bowl, beat butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, almond extract, sour cream and milk and mix to combine.
- Add dry mixture to wet mixture (and add food coloring if desired) and mix on low speed until just incorporated.
- Fill each cupcake liner a bit more than 2/3 full - you don't want to fill the cups completely, but pretty closely if you want a nice dome. If you'd like, sprinkle some of the remaining crushed pistachios on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Prepare the frosting
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together ricotta, mascarpone cheese and confectioners sugar until well combined and fluffy. Add orange zest, lemon zest and vanilla extract until combined.
- When cupcakes have completely cooled, fit a piping bag with the desired tip and pipe frosting onto each cupcake. Top with mini chocolate chips and reserved ground pistachio. Serve and enjoy!