Persian Yazdi Cupcakes

I decided to make these cupcakes as the result of a six year quest, a six year quest to once again have that delicious little cake that I first had during my last visit to Iran, about six years ago.  While that may sound a bit dramatic, it is totally true.  Six years ago, I had these amazing little light and airy cakes, full of wonderful cardamom and rosewater flavor and topped with crunchy pistachios.  Basically, the perfect accompaniment to a cup of chai.  Clearly, I never forgot about them.  :)

After I had gotten back to the States, several failed attempts at trying to find the cakes in local Persian markets resulted in my decision to try and make them myself.  Finding a recipe would be difficult since I did not even know what they were called so I figured recreating them would be my best option.  Well, that didn’t really work out either because, while I ended up with a tasty cupcake, the texture and density were just never right.

Fast-forward a couple of years and while flipping through New Food for Life, I came across Najmieh Batmanglij‘s recipe for something she called Yazdi cupcakes (the cakes are named after the city of Yazd in central Iran).  I looked through the list of ingredients and thought that her cupcakes could potentially be similar to those cakes that I remembered having.  Thank goodness I decided to give the recipe a try because the resulting cupcakes were incredibly similar to, if not an exact replication of, the cake that I remembered having!  Light and fluffy, not too sweet, and with that wonderful cardamom and rosewater taste.

I did alter the recipe just a bit by reducing the amount of sugar and butter and by increasing the amount of rosewater but other than that, the recipe is pretty much the same one Batmanglij provides.  After I made the little cupcakes, and after resisting the urge to eat them all right then, I realized that since some people do prefer their sweets to actually be pretty sweet, I would make a simple sugar and rosewater icing that I could dip some of the cupcakes into in order to sweeten them up a bit more.  The icing ended up adding that perfect, albeit slight, amount of additional sweetness.

Yazdi Cupcakes (made 24 mini-cupcakes) (adapted from New Food for Life)
4 eggs, separated and room temperature
3/4 cup of sugar (original recipe calls for 1 cup)
1/4 cup of butter, room temperature
1 cup of plain yogurt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 TBSP rosewater
1/4 cup of rice flower
2 cups of sifted all-purpose flower
handful of pistachios, chopped

1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 tsp milk or milk-substitute (I used almond milk)
2 tsp rosewater

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the sugar and egg yolks in a bowl until the mixture turns a light yellow and is creamy (about 3-5 minutes).

2.  Add the butter, yogurt, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and rosewater. When all these ingredients are incorporated, slowly add in the flours in 1 cup increments and stir until everything is well blended.


3.  In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks (3-5 minutes).

4.  Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

5.  Carefully add the batter into your greased or lined muffin tins.  (I used the mini-muffin tin because I wanted the cakes to be bite-sized but you can use whatever you prefer).  Top with some of the chopped pistachios.

6.  Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake anywhere from 20-35 minutes (make sure to keep an eye on them).  My mini-cupcakes only needed about 22 minutes but a larger muffin tin would, most likely, need more time.

7.  Let them cool and then serve unless you want to ice them.  For the icing, sift the confectioner’s sugar into a bowl.  Then stir in the milk and rosewater.  Gently dip the tops of each cupcake into the mixture.  (I recommend placing the dipped cupcakes on cooling rack over a piece of parchment paper or other disposable surface because not only will this allow for any excess icing to drip down instead of pooling at the bottom of a plate but it also makes clean-up easier).

8.  Store in an air-tight container if there are any left. :)

“Looking back, I have this to regret, that too often when I wanted a cupcake, I did not have one.” ~David Grayson

Yeah, me too.  ♥

38 thoughts on “Persian Yazdi Cupcakes

  1. They sound dreamy! And more importantly, I’m so happy you could recreate that taste you remembered! I’ve had that experience before, and only rarely had so much success. Enjoy! :)

  2. And here they are! I am intrigued not just by the rosewater but it’s interesting to see the use of rice flour–is that just for additional tenderness? What a great idea for the icing.

    • You know, I am not really sure if the rice helps with the tenderness or not. I just know that rice flour is commonly used in Persian sweets and it definitely has a specific taste and texture (although with these cupcakes, the ratio of regular flour to rice flour is pretty large so the taste is not as noticeable). I had never put yogurt in a cupcake recipe so I am wondering if it is that ingredient that helped with the tenderness and airy-ness or maybe it was whipping the egg whites and folding them in separately. All I know is that they turned out way better than any of my previous attempts. :) And the rosewater just gives it that special something…I love that I can smell the cake in that instant right before I bite into it. Cardamom and rosewater are pretty sensational together. I think you would love it.

  3. How wonderful! I love when I finally find a recipe that I thought would never be found. I’ve had your problem, eating something wonderful and then not knowing how I’m going to ever come accross it again. I love the Persian chickpea cookies and I finally did find a recipe but I don’t think I’ll ever find chick pea flour! I can’t find the cookies locally either :(

  4. Chai tea and cupcakes – what could be better.

    How sweet are they? Would they be sweet enough for me? That is always the question. hehe

    Fab pics as usual. Love how you sprinkled the pistachios on the block. What a visual treat. Now if I could just get you to send me a care package of them!! :)

  5. Yummy! I just developed a large gateaux with cardamom and pistachio and everybody loved it! I like the idea of make little ones which are so perfect and unassuming. Love it! :)

    • Rosewater is a liquid that is made with the essential oil of rose petals (which have not been processed so they are edible). It is very fragrant and has a very distinct taste. It used to be difficult to find (I would only see it in middle eastern or indian markets) but now I am seeing it in most supermarkets. If you just look in the “ethnic” foods aisles. It is a clear liquid and is not very expensive, at least here on the east coast (not sure where you are located). You can also order it pretty easily, for example: . :)

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