Do you remember that sweet buttery aroma of special occasion dessert prep? The entire house would be filled with sweet warm fragrance and you could instantly feel festivities to come! When I make these gajar halwa cupcakes, the house instantly fills up with the sweet delicious aroma of gajar ka halwa and freshly baked cupcakes at the same! The absolute best home fragrance! These gajar halwa cupcakes are an easy mash up of the Indian dessert gajar ka halwa (a sweet carrot pudding) with a classic carrot cake, but in a portable cupcake form!
What is Gajar Ka Halwa?
Literally translated to mean confectionary sweet made from carrots. It is a dessert made from carrots, milk, ghee, sugar and seasoned with cardamom, pistachios, cashews, and almonds. It is similar to rice pudding in that it is cooked with milk and sugar. Traditionally gajar ka halwa is also seasoned with warm spices like cardamom, nutmeg, chopped nuts, and raisins.
So back to these gajar halwa cupcakes!
If you love gajar ka halwa, you’re going to love these cupcakes! It is a classic carrot cake recipe but mixed in all of the flavors of gajar ka halwa: carrot, cardamom, pistachios, nutmeg.
I made a few subtle but rather meaningful substitutions to a traditional carrot cake recipe with some desi ingredients
- Switched out the traditional carrot cake seasoning of cinnamon to cardamom & nutmeg for a more halwa taste
- There are pistachios and cashews instead of walnuts or pecans
- Also added in finely chopped dates in place of raisins. Raisins are actually found in both carrot cake and gajar halwa but I wanted a bite of sweetness with a bit firmer and caramel-like texture.
Pistachio Dusted Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting
The frosting for these cupcakes is really amazing too! Can you even call it a carrot cake without cream cheese frosting?? Nope I don’t think so either! So I couldn’t to change that up too much. But I just added a bit of desi flavor with some cardamom powder to the cream frosting, and a touch of texture with pistachio dust. This frosting completely reminds me of shrikhand by the way! (If you’re making this frosting ahead of time, make sure that everyone knows its frosting and not shrikhand, I may or may not be speaking from experience! lol)
Pistachio dust is just pistachios that are dry roasted and then ground up in a coffee grinder. By grinding the pistachios in a coffee grinder, you get really fine dust of pistachios which you can easily dust over the top of the cupcakes!
Adapted from this classic carrot cake recipe