Indian Cupcakes: Rose Cake with Orange Cardamom Frosting

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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.

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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!

ROSE CUPCAKES WITH ORANGE CARDAMOM FROSTING

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)

ORANGE CARDAMOM FROSTING

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.


Directions:

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.

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Let’s talk about cupcakes

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Molly Ron, Berry, Cake BatterMy friends think I’m obsessed with cupcakes and when you consider  all the facts, I can see how they’ve come to that conclusion..

Let’s start at the beginning —

While  pursuing my MBA in Marketing at RIT, I was drawn to a certain, strong entrepreneurial cupcake shop owner, turned frosting extrordinaire, Heather “Cupcakes” Saffer.  As a final grad school project, a team and I created a marketing plan for her bakery, at the time – The Cupcake Dreamery.

Over the course of our project work, Heather and I became friends.  Afterwards, I helped her with a few cupcake-oriented PR needs & basic social media setup [now, Ms. Cupcakes could write a book on social media marketing!].

I spent a lot of time in her cupcake bubble and even worked an afternoon shift at her second bakery, Dollop Gourmet, oncewhen she was short staffed.  Having the chance to decorate cupcakes and watching customers smile as they received their treats was one of my favorite food service experiences!

During my final year in Rochester, I made many visits to the Dollop bakery to chat cupcakes with Heather and sample her newest creation.  This was my weekly mental break from everyday life.

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I believe this time spent at Dollop opened the door into the magical, sprinkle-sparkled world of cupcakes.

After moving to Austin, I had a short stint of unemployment where I kept myself busy working behind the counter at Delish, an ATX cupcakery [now full-on bakery].  When I found out Delish wouldn’t let me frost the cupcakes without going through “training” I realized they were oblivious to my intrinsic baking talents and ditched Delish venturing back into the corporate world to pursue a traditional career.

A whirlwind trip later, I’m in New York City and Heather Cupcakes comes to visit me.  I plan out an entire day where she and I venture from NYC cupcakery to cupcakery reviewing bakery creations & concepts  while eating ourselves into a sugar coma. Her motivation was purely research oriented while my purpose was to find “The Best Ever Cupcake” [Mission accomplished].

There’s been a few other random cupcake acts in-between as well, such as draggin’ M<3 to a cupcake festival where I willingly paid to launch cupcakes at a guy dressed in a pig costume.

And for the record, I hit him right in where it counts!

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I’ve also been featured multiple times on the famous cupcake blog Cupcakes Take the Cake, obsessively DVR Cupcake Wars (reruns included), will predictably show up at social gatherings with a plate of cupcakes in tow, excitedly attended any and all cupcake-themed events, and I consider it completely normal behavior for my friends to meet me at a new cupcakery to catch up rather than meeting for coffee or a cocktail elsewhere.

Lastly, let’s not forget, I got engaged at a cupcakery here in Austin.

Considering my above history with cupcakes,  I’d say I’m obsessed too!

But what you don’t know, is that I don’t actually like cake.

[I’ll pause while you gasp]

Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of cake and 10 times out of 10, I will choose a cookie, brownie, or ice cream over cake any day [unless of course it’s ice cream cake…]

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Don’t believe me? Then ask the people who actually see me eat the cupcakes. They’ve seen me implement my Bite Rule….Basically, I go all Cupcake Wars on those little cakes….

Bite 1: Taste the Frosting
Bite 2: Taste the Cake
Bite 3: Taste the Filling  [No filling? That’s a shame…Proceed to Bite 4]
Bite 4: All together now! [Frosting, Cake, Filling]

Four bites max.  That’s all I need.  I can tell right then whether or not it’s a great cupcake and I don’t need anymore.  <3M knows, he’s eaten many deconstructed cupcakes after I’ve torn my way through them to inspect and carefully evaluate every element. After I make my official tasting decision, I move on to the next cupcake in line or pass the remaining goods to anyone nearby.

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Still think I’m obsessed? Maybe you’re right. I am but it’s not with eating them…

I like cupcakes because they’re just plain cute!

They’re pretty to look at, portion controlled desserts that offer unlimited flavor combinations with cake flavors, fillings, frostings, & toppings.

I especially enjoy mini cupcakes because I have less wasted cake and can still enjoy tasting each of the elements.  Plus, mini cupcakes are much more fun – everything’s cuter when it’s tiny!  [Baked By Melissa knows a thing or two about minis!]

I also truly enjoy baking and decorating cupcakes.  I love that cupcakes require multiple steps from assembling the batter and making the frosting to filling the piping bag and the intricacy that can go into decorating each one separately.

But even after all that, my favorite thing about cupcakes is that they make people smile.  Have you ever given someone a cupcake and watch their face light up?  They get a huge smile and it’s a wonderful feeling knowing you made that something, that’s so small, so pretty and so delicious that it brings happiness to another person.

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That’s the real reason why I love cupcakes – because I love watching other people smile when they receive one!

“Cupcakes are for sharing” – Baked by Melissa

Cheap Eats in Austin

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So it’s well known that not only am I a picky eater, but I’m also a food snob – not in the “I only eat at 4-star restaurants” but in that I have high expectations when dining out.  I feel that if you own a restaurant there better be a darn good reason as to WHY you own a restaurant and that reason better be because you have insanely good food.

That being said, here’s a run down of my opinion two famous cheap eateries in Austin that I’ve had the pleasure of dining at thus far.

Let’s start backwards and with dessert first, since I’d rather be eating dessert than an actual meal anyways.

 

Hey Cupcake!

Austin’s very own cupcake trailer.  They have a bunch of  locations all over Austin and are pretty well known.  They have typical cupcake offerings – chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, red velvet, carrot, and sometimes a specialty flavor.

I’ve tried a few of their classic cupcakes – the Snowcap (Chocolate cake and vanilla frosting), Sweetberry (aka, strawberry with cream cheese frosting), and the Double Dose (better known as the Chocoholic).  I like that they spice up their cupcakes with cute names. It makes the more appealing.

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Sweetberry Cupcake & SnowCap: M<3 and I had these babies dolled up while celebrating our anniversary during my December visit to Austin.  As my Mom taught me, presentation is everything.

I like cupcakes a lot and every flavor combo I’ve had from Hey Cupcake has been exceptionally good.  Not the BEST cupcake I’ve ever had – because I’m partial to anything with peanut butter in it, but yes, the Best Classic flavored cupcakes I’ve ever had.  (I Love You Dollop – you totally win best Rochester cupcake, PB cupcake and crazy combo cupcake in my heart!)

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Scored this cupcake one afternoon by knowing the phrase of the day – Don’t be a lazy cupcake.  Also, they usually have a BOGO coupon on their website so you can always get a freebie!

The Sweetberry/Strawberry actually tasted like strawberry (as most strawberry cupcakes don’t), the chocolate rocked my world and even had chocolate chunks in it!  It actually tasted like  rich decadent chocolate that is usually lost in cakes.

As for the frostings……I don’t care for cream cheese frosting but when it came to Hey Cupcake!’s, I found it delish, maybe because it had the added strawberry element that hid the cream cheesiness I detest!  Lastly, their vanilla buttercream was fab as well – great, rich vanilla flavor and not at all like snackin’ on a stick of butter like some frostings.

In my opinion,  if you can’t do vanilla in a cupcake shop you shouldn’t be open.  It’s a standard flavor – a prerequisite for baking, comparable to knowing your ABC’s in order to graduate kindergarten. Get my drift? If you can’t make vanilla taste like vanilla, close shop.

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As for their cake – light, fluffy, and moist, exactly how a cake should be. So bravo Hey Cupcake! My food snobbish ways were satisfied. And I’ll stop by whenever a cupcake craving hits while driving.

 

Juan in a Million

You may have heard of the Juan in a Million restaurant from Man v. Food.  It was made famous by Adam Richman while attempting to eat the eight of the gigantic breakfast tacos.  It’s a hot spot for UT students to grab breakfast at and there is a lot of hype about the restaurant in general.

Since there was so much hype about the little Mexican restaurant, <3M and I had to try it out.  Our first Juan in a Million attempt was a massive fail.  We went on a Sunday morning and there was a line out the door.  Both of us were ready to chew our arm off so we kept on driving….which is what we should have done this second time around.

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Juan in a Million is situated in the ghetto part of Austin.  Driving through the area makes me a bit uneasy, and it even made me question the quality of food being served.  The place inside reminded me of college living.  Lawn furniture chairs, pictures hung haphazardly on the wall, and frames dangling off center. 

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Juan’s fencing to keep the rabid dogs out. Take note of the folding chairs and tables!

But hey,  even after risking my life while driving and sitting in the sketchy, ready to collapse chairs,I was still on board for eating at the Man v. Food legacy – plus, I thought M<3 would love it since he’s a fan of the show.

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Doesn’t he looked psyched? He could probably pass for Don Juan himself with his moo-stache growing and glowing tan.

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The menu was simple and I decided to just get a classic Mexican breakfast: two eggs, beans, potatoes, and tortillas.  How hard could that be to screw up?  M<3 went with the Migas – basically the same thing except some tortillas and cheese were thrown into the eggs.

The waitress came with coffee, chips (at 9am? Sure! Why not!) and salsa. 

Fresh salsa.  I love salsa so I was sold on the oversized dish of tomato goodness.

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Salsa – also known as poor-Lyssa’s Gazpacho!

We waited around a bit…a bit longer than I typically like to wait for breakfast. 

It’s the first meal of the day, and if you’re a restaurant, you better make it speedy because people are usually hungry and the hungrier I am and the longer I wait, the more HANGRY (that’s hungry & angry) I become.

Finally the grub showed.

Juan in a Million’s Breakfast Taco from Man v. Food

This is where it all went down hill.  I’m a sucker for refried beans so I had high hopes for beans at breakfast time, especially because these beans were made by an authentic Mexican restaurant and showcased on Man v. Food.

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M<3’s Migas – Mine looked the same minus the cheese and add some tortillas on the side.

With high hopes, I tasted the beans…Instantly I knew, they were made with meat, I could even seek the specks of fried meat bits in them as I dug through. <3M had high hopes for the beans as well.  Refried pinto beans are a fav of <3M’s and he left his untouched, so sadly, these beans must have been well under par for <3M to pass on a favorite.

After a quick chat with the waitress she confirmed what I already knew – the beans were cooked with LARD (that evil 4 letter word I absolutely hate).  But hey, I could sub another side of potatoes or rice for the beans since they didn’t have vegetarian beans.  After appraising the other items on my plate, I passed on both of those options as well. 

Don’t be fooled, it’s not cheese. Just pure fat!

I took a breath and put the beans behind me, setting my sites on the potatoes – which resembled little cubes of grease soaked (or more likely lard glazed) sponges.  These usually delicious carb-y wonders lacked flavor, their texture was mushy, and they were another breakfast fail.

On to the eggs! After careful examination I dove in.  And to my surprise, they were decent.  And by decent, I mean at least they weren’t lard covered.  But I could have made better at home.

Now for the tortillas. Probably the best part of the meal, besides the salsa, for those I enjoyed!  But my guess is Juan didn’t make the tortillas himself…….

So, thank you random-mass-produced-tortilla-maker for upholding your quality standards.

In the end my breakfast ended up being a makeshift breakfast taco – a few greasy potatoes (I convinced my self they weren’t cooked in lard), eggs, and a generic tortilla smothered in salsa for flavor!

Looked a bit like this but sissy sized.

I ate it.  I was no longer hungry but I wasn’t satisfied.  <3M even suggested paying, leaving, and going to another diner because he was so unhappy with his meal. 

Sadly, we Juan’t be going back.

All in all, Juan in a Million’s claim to fame is it’s TV appearance, not its food.  Like I said before, if you’re going to own a restaurant then reason you should be in business is because you serve great food.  Juan, did not have great foodHe had great advertising.

I have a few more restaurant reviews, a few other food trailers that I won’t mind ranting and raving about, and one restaurant which I absolutely love in Austin that I’ll share another time…..