Mango Lassi Cake ft. Rosewater Frosting + Almond Abir

It may not feel like spring has arrived to your part of the country yet, but let's just say it's running fashionably late this year. We may be a few weeks away from the full-on color spectrum that the season typically brings, but this Wednesday marks the first day of Holi, the Hindu Festival of Color which banishes winter and welcomes spring with (colorful) open arms.

One of the most remarkable rituals of Holi is the throwing of colored powder on one another in celebration. The colored powder used for the festival is called abir (dye) or gulal, and the music and dancing and good-natured coloring is meant to symbolize hope and joy while also encouraging participants to forget their differences, for at least a few days. And if these fluorescent colors aren't even to cure your winter blues, I'm not sure what will.

Even if you're not familiar with Holi, you probably are familiar with one of its virally popular offshoots - the Color Run, Color Me Rad, Color Vibe, etc etc - in which participants, initially clad in white, simulate the Holi festival by running while also throwing and receiving colored powder until they cross the finish line, saturated and sweaty (more on that later).

Holi is one of the first remixes I came up with and it has thus been in the sketchbook for almost a year. Needless to say, I was excited to put it into action and it's probably one of the freshest, tastiest flavor combinations so far. Drawing inspiration from favorite Indian sweets like lassi drinks and kheer (rice pudding), Holi is a smooth dense mango lassi cake (and cupcakes) with a light and fluffy rosewater frosting. I was able to find rosewater in an Indian neighborhood (Jackson Heights baby!), so you may have luck in an international foods store or aisle, and there's always the Internet. It tastes exactly as a rose smells and is an excellent harbinger of the spring season to come.

Coloring the powdered sugar was very simple with a food processor and liquid food coloring (not the gel kind this time). I also added in a drop or two of almond extract and finely processed nuts like almond and pistachio for a bit of flavor. Using the rituals of the Color Run and Holi as inspiration, I knew I wanted to decorate the cake by 'throwing' the colored powder, but you'll have to read on to hear about how that went...