Lemon cupcakes with Lemon icing

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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Cupcakes and Gratitude

Last Updated: March 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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Orange chocolate chunk cupcakes with chocolate frosting

A delightful citrus combination, that can be taken to the next level with the addition of orange liqueur to the cupcake batter and/or the chocolate ganache frosting! These cupcakes (which I often make into bundt cakes or mini bundt cakes with the ganache draped over, or round cakes filled with the frosting) are one of my most frequent bakes all year round – turns out many of my friends dig the chocolate and citrus combination!

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Sweet Pongal (Sakkarai Pongal)

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Sakkarai Pongal is a rice and lentil pudding sweetened with jaggery, spiced with ground cardamom and tempered with cashews and raisins, a Tamil delicacy made for its eponymous festival, Pongal! This is the sweet variation of Ven Pongal, which is savory (tempered with cashews and black peppercorns), and usually made all year round.

It’s a warm, sweet and comforting pudding, and can be made as simple or as decadent as you prefer, simply by adding more ghee (clarified butter) and dry fruits and nuts. A friend of mine made this for Makar Sankrant/Pongal over a decade ago, and it still remains one of my favorite Indian desserts of all time!

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Chocolate gingerbread cupcakes with chocolate icing

If you can’t choose between gingerbread and chocolate for your holiday dessert, these are just for you! Make them even more festive with the addition of candied ginger, citrus peel and raisins or currants plumped in warm rum. These cupcakes are rich and intense, a perfect holiday dessert in a highly portable format. The recipe can also be made into an 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake, if that fits better with your menu!

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Mushroom and Potato Pelmeni (Russian Dumplings)

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My obsession for dumplings is well-documented. Whether it’s chicken and dumplings, or potstickers, or Indian Chakolya (called Dal Dhokli or Varan Phal; these are mildly spiced whole wheat and gram flour dumplings cooked in a spicy lentil stew) or wontons, or Dhokle Papdi (bite-sized gram flour patties stewed in flat beans and spices) my love for all things doughy knows no bounds. It’s what I crave on Sunday nights, cold evenings, or after a long tiring day.

I first made pelmeni and pierogis couple years ago, after my husband visited Russia and simply could not shut up about them. He brought me back some cookbooks from Moscow and I got right to it, I was blown away by how simple and scrumptious they were! Pelmeni are a type of Russian/Ukrainian rustic, savory dumpling filled with meat or mushrooms or potatoes or cheese. I made the pelmeni with a potato and mushroom filling similar to what I’ve shown here, and a handful of pierogis with diced apples. As someone living in the United States for so many years, I felt like I needed to alert the authorities – the apples were NOT tossed in cinnamon, nor were they dusted with it. The serving recommendation was to just serve them piping hot with some butter. I resisted the urge to add cinnamon and was rewarded. Something happens to the apples inside the pierogis that we cannot explain.

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