Indian Cupcakes: Rose Cake with Orange Cardamom Frosting


I’m not sure all of you know this or not but I am not a fan of Indian desserts. They’re either too sweet – as the case with kaju burfi or the texture is too different for me – such as ras malai.

Since I usually pass on desserts when at an Indian restaurant or at <3M’s family’s home, I wanted to create a dessert that still had Indian flavors but catered more to my taste and texture preference while still make it something <3M would enjoy and associate with home.

In all, this cupcake was truly inspired by <3M. Indian desserts are something I would never make myself but I wanted to treat him to a Indian sweet of my own and thus I was inspired to merge an American favorite (cupcakes!) with Indian flavors.

The idea for rose cupcakes had been floating around in my mind for months. Now, in all honesty, I don’t even care for rose!
I’m not a fan of it in perfume, I don’t like it in a lassi or kulfi but the thought of it as a cupcake appealed to me – maybe because I knew I could control the depth of the rose flavor if I myself were making it.


Now, the rose cupcake idea was easy, it was the frosting that had me stuck for a while. I have always loved Orange Cardamom cupcakes. The flavors are unique – it has a citrusy sweet touch from the orange and a slight spiciness from the cardamom. Since cardamom is a prominent flavor in Indian foods, I wanted to incorporate it into the cupcake in some way.

How they’d pair with rose, I wasn’t quite sure. I was hopefully though that the delicate rose would off se the spice that cardamom brought and decided to wing it.

I initially searched online for a cupcake recipe within the rose & orange cardamom spectrum but was unable to find one. There were lots of rose vanilla cupcake recipes out there but after reviewing the recipes, they didn’t fit with my baking preferences. Most used a rose extract which I thought would be too strong or too fake tasting.

In my mind, I was set on using rose water. Rose water itself is slightly diluted but fragrant. And after tasting these cupcakes, I knew my intuition was correct – using rose water was perfect. The cake itself doesn’t have a strong flavor of rose but the scent is there and because eating is a multi-sensual experience, you believe you truly are eating a rose flavored cupcake – but it’s enjoyable without the flowery potent taste one tends to associate with rose.

As for the frosting, again – that citrusy sweet, spice combination pairs perfectly with the delicate rose. And there’s the added crumble of pistachios on top for a bit of texture to balance the light fluffy cake and the creamy frosting.

If you decide to make them, I’d love to hear your thoughts!


1 and 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 egg whites
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk (any kind – almond, coconut, cow..)
1/4 cup rose water
2-3 drops red food coloring (if you wish cupcakes to be pink)


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 – 3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons half and half
1 tablespoon orange juice (fresh or bottled)
zest from 1/2 orange
2 teaspoons cardamom
1/4 cup pistachios, finely chopped
**If you care to color your frosting orange, follow your food coloring’s directions for doing so. My coloring was 7 drops yellow to 1 drop red.


Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line muffin tin with 12-15 cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugar. Once combined, whisk in the egg whites, yogurt, milk, and rose water until combined.

Slowly add the dry ingredients into the butter, egg, milk mixture ingredients until well combined.  If using food coloring, add it at this time.

Divide batter among 12-15 cupcake liners (or 24-30 mini) and bake for 14-17 minutes.  Meanwhile, make the frosting.

To make the frosting, beat softened butter on medium speed with a stand mixer until smooth and creamy (at least a minute)

Add 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, half and half, orange juice, orange zest, cardamom. Increase to speed and beat for 1-2 additional minutes. At this time add the food coloring (if using) and additional powdered sugar if the frosting is too thick – or more cream if the frosting is too thick.

Chill frosting for 15 minutes prior to using.

Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with pistachios.

2 thoughts on “Indian Cupcakes: Rose Cake with Orange Cardamom Frosting

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