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Cupcakes and Roses

5 Nov

I ordered a bottle of rosewater to make loukoumia, or Turkish Delight, as the sweet is known outside of Greece.  But I quickly discovered that just a few drops of the extract go a long way.  And so I was faced with the challenge of finding more uses for the stuff.  Sachets?  Aromatic diffusers?  Martinis?

After much pleasant but idle thought, I hit upon cupcakes.  Surely someone somewhere had made rosewater cupcakes.  And so they had.

But the first recipe called for lemon icing. Promising, since lemon and rosewater get along so well in loukoumia.  This time, however, the lemon was loud and overbearing, drowning out the rosewater.

The second recipe called for ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg – a party too crowded with flamboyant guests for the shy rosewater to stand out.  I wanted a cupcake whose flavors mingled companionably, a quiet yet memorable affair.

And so I closed my eyes and auditioned a parade of flavors: almond, orange, pistachio, bergamot, cardamom. Cardamom.  That ancient spice from southwest India, traded by Greeks since the 4th century B.C.  Known as the “queen of all spices,” and still one of the most expensive.  Surprising, enticing, assertive – and never too loud.

I set to work.  Cardamom cupcakes with Rosewater glaze.  Perfect. Perfect for breakfast or with a cup of tea in the afternoon, or as a light dessert after a spicy meal. I ate seven in two hours – the first one hot from the oven.  Guess I’ll be making a double batch next time!

Cardamom Cupcakes with Rosewater Glaze (makes 18-24 cupcakes)

  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, brought to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup milk, brought to room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Place paper liners in muffin tins.

In a bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and cake flours, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda.

In a stand mixer with a paddle, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixer in three batches, alternating with two batches of milk, beginning and ending with the flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared tins, filling each cup halfway.

Bake about 20 minutes, just until a toothpick comes out clean. Check the cupcakes after 15 minutes.  Do not overbake.

Place tin on a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes.  Remove cupcakes, place on a wire rack, and let cool completely.

When the cupcakes have cooled, make the rosewater glaze. Place 1/4 cup whole milk in a bowl.  Whisk in confectioners sugar, a 1/4 cup at a time, until the glaze is thick enough that it falls slowly from a spoon.  Whisk in 1 teaspoon rosewater.  Taste.  If you like, you can add more rosewater, a 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until you are happy with its intensity.  Use a spoon to pour glaze over each cupcake.

You can decorate your cupcakes with sugared rose petals, or sprinkles — or enjoy them as they are!

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