Why It Works
- Organic powdered sugar contains a fraction of its natural molasses content, giving the pistachio paste a more nuanced sweetness.
- Orange flower water works as an aromatic to amplify the inherent flavors and aromas in pistachio.
- Roasted pistachio oil intensifies the overall flavor, and improves the texture of the paste.
The mellow sweetness of this thick and flavorful pistachio paste will stand on its own when spread over toast or stuffed between layers of cake, but it can also work to flavor other desserts, as well. Turn it into a pistachio chantilly, twirl it up with a yeasty dough for breakfast buns, or use it as a stand-in for almond paste (think: pistachio stollen!). In a recipe as simple as this, every ingredient matters—accept no substitutions! And if you don't know what to do with roasted pistachio oil, be sure to try it in our easy, one-bowl pistachio cake.
- 9 ounces whole, raw pistachios, blanched and peeled; see note (about 2 cups; 255g)
- 10 ounces powdered sugar, preferably organic; more information here (about 2 1/2 cups; 280g)
- 1/2 teaspoon (2g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
- 1/4 teaspoon orange flower water, such as Cortas
- 2 ounces roasted pistachio oil, such as La Tourangelle (shy 1/3 cup; 55g)
- 2 ounces water, optional (1/4 cup; 55g)
In the bowl of a food processor, grind the blanched pistachios to form a smooth but slightly oily mass. The timing of this step can vary depending on the type, freshness, and moisture content of the pistachios, along with the size and power of the food processor. Fresher, wetter pistachios may only require 5 minutes of processing, while older, drier, or toasted pistachios may require 10 minutes or more.
Once a smooth, oily paste has formed, add the powdered sugar, salt, and orange flower water and continue processing until smooth and thick. With the machine still running, drizzle in the oil and process until silky and pale. At this stage, the pistachio paste can be seasoned with additional salt to taste, if needed.
While warm, the pistachio paste will be creamy and soft, but it will thicken into a sliceable, dough-like mass when cooled to room temperature. This is the ideal consistency to use as a stand in for almond paste or marzipan. However, if a more spreadable consistency is desired, along the lines of peanut butter, continue running the food processor and drizzle in 2 ounces (1/4 cup; 55g) water.
In a non-reactive, airtight container, the pistachio paste can be stored at room temperature for a week, or held in the refrigerator for one month. If using as a stand-in for commercial almond paste, bring to room temperature before use. When freshly made, the pistachio paste will have a relatively light green color, but will naturally darken to a deep olive shade over time.
This recipe works well with any style of pistachio, but it is vital that the nuts are blanched and peeled. For more information, see our guide to blanching and peeling pistachios.
If a deeper, toasted flavor is desired, as with our triple pistachio buns, the peeled pistachios can be toasted prior to making the paste. To do this, toss the nuts with a splash of pistachio oil, spread onto a parchment-lined half sheet pan, and bake at 200°F, until the nuts are firm to the touch and rather hard, with a golden hue just beginning to develop here and there, about 3 hours.
As toasting will develop a strong yellow color in the nuts, a drop of light blue gel paste, such as Americolor, can be used to neutralize the warm undertones and bring out a cooler, green profile in the paste.
Make-Ahead and Storage
In a non-reactive, airtight container, the pistachio paste can be stored at room temperature for a week, or held in the refrigerator for one month. If using as a stand-in for commercial almond paste, bring to room temperature before use.