Going nuts about pistachio muffins

Homemade pistachio muffins with sugar crystals / Photo credit: Getty Images/iStock/fusaromike

On a recent trip to Florida, I enjoyed a delicious brunch at Andy's Flour Power café and bakery in Panama City Beach.

All of the brunch dishes, which included eggs Benedict with made-from-scratch hollandaise and shrimp etouffee served over homemade biscuits, were outstanding. But the most unforgettable item on the menu was the pistachio muffin. I devoured mine. If you love the flavor of pistachios, then no meal at the cafe is complete without one.

As popular as they are now, chief baker and owner John Certo said no one was interested when he first served them. Maybe it was their strange green color. To entice people to try them, he gave them away - dozens one day, handed out one by one to any customer lucky enough to come in. Since then, they fly out of the kitchen like hotcakes.

We ordered several varieties of muffins to share with a table of eight people, and the pistachio muffin was the first to go. I could've easily eaten one or two more. They have a wonderful pistachio flavor and are so moist they practically melt in your mouth. So many times muffins are dry, but these were just amazing.

If you get a chance to go to Panama City Beach, check out Andy's Flour Power. It's not on the main drag, so you'll have to Google-Map it to get there, but it will be worth veering off the main beach road to try it.

When I got home, I tested out several recipes to tide me over between trips. The winner was a combination of several recipes. They're really good, but still nothing like the ones you can get at Andy's Flour Power.

Pistachio Muffins

1 (3.4-ounce) box of instant pistachio pudding

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

3/4 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup full-fat sour cream

1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Green food coloring, optional

1/2 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped

Coarse sugar, for topping

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry pudding mix, flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sour cream, oil and vanilla.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. Then, if desired, add a few drops of green food coloring until the desired shade of green is achieved. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the chopped pistachios until evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Evenly divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about full, and sprinkle coarse sugar rather liberally on top of each muffin. Bake the muffins for 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Don't overbake.

Email Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

photo Anne Braly