It's Not Easy Being Green: Pistachio Butter Swirled Fudge Brownies

I love peanut butter, but in the hierarchy of nuts, I prefer pistachios, hazelnuts, and almonds over peanuts. So I was intrigued by Irvin Lin's recipe for "Pistachio Butter Swirled Fudge Brownies," which includes homemade pistachio butter. The eye-catching photo in Marbled, Swirled, and Layered shows a lovely swirly brownie that at first glance I had assumed included green tea, because the swirl is the exact color of matcha powder.

It's a pretty straightforward recipe. To make the pistachio butter, you blitz pistachios, salt, and oil in a food processor until they form a paste, and then add powdered sugar. The recipe calls for either pistachio oil or extra-virgin olive oil and I used the latter. I also used pistachios that had been roasted so they were brownish and not bright green; the resulting paste was light brown.

To make the brownie batter you melt unsweetened chocolate with butter; add sugar and dark brown sugar; whisk in eggs; stir in vanilla, salt, and baking soda; and fold in flour and cocoa powder. I spread half of the brownie batter into a parchment-lined 9-inch by 13-inch pan, covered it with three-quarters of the pistachio butter, spread the remaining brownie batter on top, and then dropped dollops of the remaining pistachio butter on top after mixing in some matcha powder. Even though I added the matcha powder, the pistachio paste retained its drab brown color. I swirled the pistachio butter into the brownie batter before baking.
The pistachio paste on top became an even darker shade of brown during baking. So I didn't love the way these bars looked -- I would have hoped for a prettier green shade for the swirl. Still, the bars were delicious. The brownie was rich and fudgy, and the pistachio butter was a nice and assertive complement; I couldn't taste the matcha powder at all in the pistachio butter. After my experience with the roasted white chocolate blondies from the same cookbook, I was thankful that I couldn't detect the flavor of the olive oil either.

Several tasters asked about the pistachio butter and were very impressed when I told them it was homemade, in spite of my explanation that all I did was throw the ingredients into a food processor. I was pleased with the way these brownies came out and would make them again.

Recipe: "Pistachio Butter Swirled Fudge Brownies" from Marbled, Swirled, and Layered by Irvin Lin.

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