Upside-Down Cranberry-Pistachio Muffins

Muffins as Elegant as Mini Upside Down Cakes

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These easy muffins look like fancy little upside down cakes. The red and green colors are perfect for the fall and winter holidays – a welcomed brunch addition. They are from In a Nutshell, a new book by Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian who have also brought us a delicate Hazelnut Roulade.

Reprinted from In a Nutshell: Cooking and Baking with Nuts and Seedsby Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian. Copyright © 2014 by Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian. Photographs copyright © 2014 by Gentl & Hyers. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Making these muffins is loads of fun. To ensure that the miniature crowns of nuts and berries atop them stay in place and intact when you flip them over, use paper liners in your muffin tins and coat the papers lightly with nonstick spray before adding the nuts and compote. The silky green color is slightly obscured by the bright garnet cranberries, but one bite and you’ll know the pistachios are there. The compote is spectacular by itself. We even serve it with pancakes or waffles instead of syrup. For a super-indulgent treat, eat it with a bowl of vanilla ice cream.


BAKING TImE: 15 to 20 minutes

EQUIPMENT: One 12-cup muffin tin and one 6-cup muffin tin lined with paper liners, liners and pans lightly coated with nonstick spray

Upside-Down Cranberry-Pistachio Muffins
Makes: 18 muffins
  • One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter,melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 11⁄2 cups (71⁄2 ounces) coarsely chopped pistachios
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Make the cranberry compote: Combine the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and zest in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the cranberries have burst and the compote begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Make the muffins: Stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the milk, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and orange zest together in a separate bowl. Fold the egg mixture into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix.
  4. Sprinkle a tablespoon of pistachios in the bottom of each prepared liner. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the cranberry compote over the pistachios. Spoon the muffin batter over the cranberries so that each liner is slightly less than two-thirds full. Since these muffins are served upside-down, filling the liners a little less than you do with other muffins will avoid a large crown on the top after they have risen, so be careful not to overfill the liners.
  5. Bake until the muffins are well risen and firm when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Do not insert the toothpick too far, or you may reach the cranberry compote and get an inaccurate reading of doneness.
  6. Allow the muffins to cool completely in the tins on racks. Remove them from the tins, peel off the paper liners, and serve them upside-down on a plate or platter.

Author’s Tips:

Muffin Pan Sizes – At first glance most muffin pans look the same, a tin with 6 or 12 cups, waiting to be lined, filled, and baked. We have learned that there are real differences in cup size, and the volume that a cup can hold not only will affect the size of each muffin (or cupcake) but will determine the number of muffins baked. We have seen pans that have cups with 2-ounce, 3-ounce and 4-ounce capacities. All of our recipes are sized for 3-ounce cups—we find them not too small, not too large, and just right!

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