The sweet smell of a rose is one of my favorite scents of all the garden’s flowers, and it’s also one of my favorite flavors. Growing up my family had a large rose garden lining the pathways in our backyard, and walking through it in the spring when the roses were in full bloom was AMAZING. Now I have some in my garden here in Los Angeles, which is a difficult task since the weather here is a touch too hot for their liking. I very much am looking forward to the day when I move back up north to Oregon and can have a thriving little rose garden of my own! In the meantime, though, I can enjoy their flavor and be reminded of their scent with these delicious rose cupcakes.
Pink Greek PistachiosIn Greek and middle eastern cooking, rose water is used frequently in sweets, but it’s a flavor that is not used very often in the western world, which is a real shame. One must be careful when using it, though, since not all rose water has the same concentration of flavor. I’ve found that the Nielsen Massey rose water packs quite a punch, and that’s the one I’ve used here for this recipe, hence the small dosage (1/4 teaspoon) for the batch of cupcakes. If you’re using a different brand, like a middle eastern or Greek brand from an ethnic grocery store, the flavor may be less concentrated so you could up the dose to 1/2 teaspoon instead. Just be careful not to go overboard, otherwise eating your cupcakes will feel like eating perfume. The rose is meant to be a delightful hint of floral flavor, not something to hit your palette over the head with.
Cupcake Decorating
The base for these rose cupcakes is a traditional vanilla cake with a touch of rose water mixed in, and true to my Greek heritage, I made a cream of pistachios by blitzing them in a blender with some milk, cardamom, and sugar.  When the cupcakes are done baking, you just scoop out a little of the cupcake from the top and spoon in some of that sweet pistachio cream, and then spread the vanilla buttercream over the top. For a little extra texture, you can chop up some pistachios and roll the sides of the iced cupcakes in them, too! 

Rose Cupcakes with Pistachio Buttercream

And if you’re wondering about the crazy pink hue of the pistachios here, they’re from my relative’s pistachio farm on Aegina island, Greece. Every few months they ship us a box of raw pistachios, and then my Dad roasts them and distributes them to me and my siblings. Getting them is such a treat—their flavor is so much more concentrated and less buttery than the California ones, and the color of their papery skins is the most incredible magenta hue. If you can find some, I’d highly recommend them!

Rose Cupcakes with Pistachio Cream and Vanilla Buttercream

Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Cooling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 18 Cupcakes
Calories 442 kcal
Author Eva Kosmas Flores



  • 1 3/4 Cups Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter softened
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 3/4 Cup Milk room temperature
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Rose Water

Pistachio Cream Filling

  • 5 ounces roasted shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (skip if your pistachios are already salted)

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • 3/4 cup chopped pistachios
  • 18 individual shelled pistachios


Rose Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven the 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake lines and set it aside. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. Set aside.

  2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, waiting until each is incorporated before adding the next one. Mixing at low speed, alternate between adding the milk and the flour mixture in three rotations until they're all incorporated into the batter. Add the vanilla extract and rose water and stir to combine.

  3. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full of the batter and place the pan in the oven. Bake until the edges are very faintly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing the cupcakes from the pan and placing them on a wire rack to cool completely. Place the remaining cupcake liners on the cupcake pan and fill with the remaining batter and repeat the baking cycle.

Pistachio Cream

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until relatively smooth. Set aside.

Vanilla Buttercream

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce the speed, add the powdered sugar, and once it's incorporated, raise the speed back to medium high and beat until fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium, add the milk, one tablespoon at a time, and then the vanilla extract. Set aside.


  1. Once the cupcakes have cooled. use a small spoon to scoop about 1 tablespoon of cake out of the top center of each cupcake. Fill the hole with the pistachio cream until level. Spread the buttercream on top of the cupcakes, taking care not to press down too hard on the area with the filling otherwise it will squirt out the side and get messy.

  2. Spread the chopped pistachios in a low pile on a clean working surface, like a cutting board. Roll the *very* edges of the frosted cupcake in the chopped pistachios to get the nut bits to adhere to the buttercream around the edges of each cupcake. Repeat with all of the remaining cupcakes. Garnish the top center of each cupcake with a shelled pistachio and serve.

Nutrition Facts
Rose Cupcakes with Pistachio Cream and Vanilla Buttercream
Amount Per Serving
Calories 442 Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value*
Fat 20g31%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 63mg21%
Sodium 150mg7%
Potassium 235mg7%
Carbohydrates 61g20%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 49g54%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 515IU10%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 62mg6%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Rose in the Garden Rose Cupcakes with Pistachio Buttercream Pink Greek Pistachios Rose Cupcakes with Pistachio Buttercream



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