It’s my best friend’s birthday, and what better way to celebrate than with glorious cupcakes? But these aren’t ordinary glorious cupcakes - the frosting is rose-flavored and there’s a chocolate truffle nestled inside each one.
The inspiration for this recipe began with the weather. Los Angeles is sitting on the tail end of an uncharacteristically humid heat wave, and this time last year I was reading Ian McDonald’s novel The Dervish House. Set in Turkey, the book opens on a stork flying over Istanbul, gliding through the rising heat from the buildings below. It was in this exotic frame of mind that I thought, why not make a turkish delight inspired dessert? So I took the concept of turkish delight, broke it apart and reassembled it in delicious cupcake format.
In my state of foodie excitement on a sweltering Sunday morning, I didn’t bother making everything from scratch. After all, there were cupcakes to be had! Immediately. So I used a box of Trader Joe’s Chocolate Cake Mix and made the batter per instructions on the box. Then I opened a packet of chocolate truffles, also from Trader Joe’s.
I spooned the batter into each cupcake liner until they were about 1/3 full and placed a truffle in the middle of each one. Then I topped them with the rest of the batter and baked per instructions on the box, which was at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. (The truffles won’t affect the recommended cooking time.)
For the frosting, I didn’t use the rosewater that turkish delight is normally flavored with. Instead, I went with Pakistani Rooh Afza syrup, which is used to make a refreshing rose-flavored South Asian summertime drink. The syrup is stirred into ice water or cold milk, and it’s commonly topped with basil seeds that have been soaked in water, giving the seeds a gelatinous coating. The bright red color of the syrup will render the frosting a pretty pale pink.
To make the frosting, you will need:
- 1/3 cup butter
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp Rooh Afza syrup
- 1 lb (3 ½ cups) powdered sugar
- 3-4 tbsp of milk
Cream the butter, salt and Rooh Afza until fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar to incorporate. The consistency will be crumbly, so add the milk bit by bit until it becomes spreadable. You can add more Rooh Afza for a rosier flavor, but make sure to omit a couple teaspoons of sugar since the syrup is very sweet.
Once the cupcakes are cool, frost away! I like these refrigerated - the cold frosting coupled with a slightly hardened truffle inside = mmmf.