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For me, the month of May is all about mangoes. Growing up in India, the month of May is the peak of mango season; my mind is flooded with memories of “aamras and puri” (mango pulp and fried mini roti), mango milkshakes, “amrakhand” (the traditional shrikhand, a thick, sweetened yogurt, with a mango twist) and countless mango-based desserts and cakes that my mom made for our birthdays (my sister and I are both May-born).
So for the month of May as part of my cupcake project, the fruit of the month just had to be Mango. It didn’t matter what else is in season in California at the moment, it had to be mango! I’m always looking for delicious vegan recipes for my mom to bake in India with the ingredients easily available in India, so I decided to make these mango cupcakes vegan (and while I was at it, whole grain, with the use of whole wheat pastry flour)!
These cupcakes are light and moist with a great mango and cardamom flavor, and the mango frosting (made vegan with the use of Country Crock plant butter instead of regular dairy butter) is like cardamom-scented ball of fluff!
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This post is a PSA for the glorious combination of blackberries and coconut. Try these out, and you too will wonder why we don’t see these two ingredients together more often! Strawberries and raspberries, sure – but why not blackberries! It’s baffling.
Here I’ve adapted a simple, dairy-free coconut muffin recipe into one that has pops of plump blackberries, that are almost jammy when baked. These are totally delicious and satisfying unadorned, but I couldn’t resist making a gorgeous lavender colored blackberry buttercream to show them a little extra love!
The cupcakes come together in no time, with no beaters or special equipment! I added some coconut flour in addition to the coconut oil, coconut milk and shredded coconut (okay – these are VERY coconut-y), that I think lends a nice bite to these treats!
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An ultra-luxe pound cake recipe adapted to cupcake format, with a lemon flavor so bright and cheerful, it will make all the zesting and juicing well worth the effort! The citrus plays beautifully with the buttery poundcake here. As a poundcake purist I can safely say that if you are going to mess with a classic, you better do it right!
We start by zesting and juicing a whole lot of lemons for this cake. 8 lemons sounds like a lot, but you are doing the work for the batter, the syrup (to soak the cupcakes and make them extra moist and lemony) and the sharp, tart glaze that will wake you up!
Put on some nice music and get right to it!
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Final Update: August 25, 2021!
When I was pregnant last year, there were so many reasons it felt like a cloud was hanging over us, the pandemic being just one of them. Most of the time we powered through, busy with work, getting the house ready for the baby, and like everyone else in the world, tracking down toilet paper and disinfecting our groceries took up 80% of whatever time was left over! The upcoming early months with the baby seemed very daunting at the time, especially since we were not going to have anyone to help out at home, so to make it fun and to have something to mark the milestones and celebrate the fact that we were “surviving” early parenthood, I planned this very special little side project: I decided that for each of our baby’s monthly birthdays (the 25th of each month), I would make a seasonal cupcake recipe, and take his picture with the cupcakes!
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I feel like I owe this blog a step-by-step guide to bake and assemble a Black Forest Cake, especially since all I’ve shared so far on the subject is a bunch of excuses. I do make this cake every year, sometimes twice or thrice a year, and this time around I decided to do it right i.e. with pictures and detailed notes! Without further ado, here goes.
The 6-inch double layered Black Forest cake is a good size for small parties (like our party of 2). It makes tall, impressive slices, comes together quickly and is easy to decorate too. To make a 9-inch double layered cake, simply double the recipe.
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Considering the fact that I have promised my husband that I’ll be making the traditional Black Forest Cake for his birthday every year, I guess I’ll get plenty of opportunities to do a long post about this in the years to come. Given the specific parameters of this week, I’m going to have to stick with the short format.
What parameters, you ask? I baked this cake in a very rushed manner, in a cluttered kitchen full of dinner prep and in-progress dish cleaning, and in highly sub-optimal lighting conditions (not one decent picture). I assembled and frosted the cake in various stages spread over several hours, in between late evening meetings and a hundred other things to cross off my “this needs to be done yesterday” list.
Before you start thinking that all I make is excuses, let’s talk about cake! Variations of the traditional German “Black Forest Cake” (or “Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte” in its native German tongue) are available in some format all over the world, really. It’s quite unlikely that you’ve never heard about it, wherever you are! It’s basically a type of German Chocolate Torte: sturdy chocolate sponge cake soaked in Kirsch (Cherry-infused Brandy) and chopped pitted cherries, stacked one over the other with Kirsch-infused whipped cream in between and all around. It is then covered in an avalanche of bittersweet chocolate shards and topped with whole, pitted cherries for garnish (and a “forest” appearance). The cake isn’t named after the German “Black Forest” mountains themselves, but after the Cherry liquor made from the dark, tart cherries found in the region, which lends itself beautifully to the cream and chocolate combination.
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