Mango Cupcakes and what would it have been had I failed.

I have never failed an exam in my life.

Does that mean I am super brilliant? Heck no. That just means I haven’t taken up enough challenges in my life. It means that I have stayed in my comfort zone , doing things I have been sure about. I had even registered for some exams, and chickened out at the last-minute thinking I am not prepared, I am sure gonna fail. Hence there was no exam which I took and failed. But there is a major flaw in this system. It restricts my view of the world. Though not blatantly, but in my head it makes me think “Oh, I am quite cool”. And there goes that.

When I gave my Chartered Accountant (Indian CPA) exam, luckily for me, I cleared it all in the first attempt. But what if I had not? Would I have had the guts and the patience to take it again? or would I have chosen another career path? Would I have excelled far better at something else or become a sloppy worker, just going through the day? There is no way to know.

In school whenever anyone asked me “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I always answered heroic professions like a criminal lawyer, a journalist etc. And apparently, I answered with such conviction that even now when I meet someone from school, they are shocked to realize I did not pursue law or journalism. How and when accounting profession came in my life is kinda fuzzy in my head. I just registered for the first exam because I think everybody in my college was doing so, and cleared that exam, the next and the next and here I am.

Don’t get me wrong, I am mighty proud of my profession and the security a valued degree provides me. But as I said, it put me in a comfort zone I am reluctant to get out of. But sometimes, I get a strong urge in my heart to do something extremely challenging. Something which I have an equal chance of failing at. Something which will make me sit up and be scared about. Something which brings out the edge in me.

My brother is currently taking entrance exams to get into the MBA colleges. In one exam he scored 99 percentile, which means he is better than 99% of the population taking the exam. You would think that life is set right? No. The day and age where we live, the college admissions are closing at a whooping 99.4 percentile. How can you beat that? It is so fucking crazy, that I feel I am luckier having passed all that and be here. So there is no room to complain, but there is this feeling of insufficiency in my heart. It feels I can do much better, I need some push. To do more.

But I also feel there was a time and stage in life to do all that. Now I am 28, married for 3 years and wishing to take personal life to the “next stage”. Yeah, yeah I know that shouldn’t change anything, considering how liberal and encouraging my husband and in-laws are. But it does. That does not mean it is lost on me. May be I will do something which will (pleasantly) surprise the hell out of me. But for now, I wonder “what would I have done had I failed in the CA exam?”

Rutvika Charegaonkar

P.S : Do you ever wonder what you would have done, had you failed in one of life’s important stages and how different life would have been? Do write in the comments section, I would love to read.


Mango Cupcakes with Mango frosting:

Mangoes are back! Summer in India gets extremely hot, but it brings the luscious oh so sweet mangoes and hence I am not complaining. The color, the fragrance, and then the eclectic taste. Last year I made the no-bake mango cheesecake, and this year the vibrant super soft mango cupcakes.

Mango cupcakes

What you will need:

  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 3/4 cup castor sugar
  • 3/4 cup ripe mango puree (about 2 mangoes pureed)
  • 1 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter

For the frosting:

  • 1 and 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp softened butter (not melted)
  • 2-3 tbsp mango puree

What to do :

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F / 170C. Line muffin pans with paper.
  2. Beat butter till it is pale in color and then add the sugar. Beat till light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and fully incorporate.
  4. In a separate bowl, take flour and baking powder. mix it well together, to prevent biting into a chunk of baking powder.
  5. Fold the dry ingredients with the butter mixture.
  6. Add the mango puree, grated ginger and milk. Continue whisking till it is fully homogeneous.
  7. Pour it into a pan and bake for 20 minutes till a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  8. To make the frosting, mix together icing sugar, butter and mango puree. Add more icing sugar if you want stiffer frosting and more mango puree if a smoother frosting.
  9. Pipe the frosting on the cupcakes and eat. 🙂

mango cupcake platter

Notes :

  • The cupcakes stay well at room temperature in air-tight container for upto 4 days. If keeping in the refrigerator, slightly heat in the microwave before eating.
  • You can skip the ginger, but it brings out the mango flavor beautifully.
  • Canned mango puree can also be used to make the cupcakes.

Drool worthy mango cupcake

What if I were to die today? I am not dying, and hence the orange cupcakes .

Whenever I am reading a book or watching a movie, I tend to empathize myself with some character in it. In fact, the movie or book becomes likeable only if there is a role which I imagine myself playing. Currently I am reading “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch, a true story, where Randy, a professor is detected with terminal pancreatic cancer, and has about 6 months to live. With kids aged 5, 3 and one, he wants to be able to leave something for them, through which they will know their father later on and hence the last lecture which he gave is recorded in a beautifully written book. I had a stream of tears rolling down my eyes even as I read the first chapter.

It made me think. I am generally the one who would shy away from all discussions of death and dying. It makes me very uncomfortable. But his writing style is such, that I couldn’t help but think ‘what if I was in his place?’ What if I were to give the ‘last lecture or write a last blog-post’ of my life? Think for a second. Scary, isn’t it?

Well, I am 28 right now. I have a supportive family, an amazing husband, good career, and a hobby worth pursuing. If something were to happen to me right now, why am I circumventing? , lets face it, if I die now, it would be a terrible shame. If it’s a fatal accident, it would be easier on me than on others, but I wouldn’t have said my last good-byes. And if there is a prolonged ‘about-to-die’ period, the good-byes would become nausea-tic. So I don’t know which is the more convenient method, but dying at such an age, is quite a disaster.

I am yet to have kids, yet to hold my baby in my hands and feel its soft touch on my skin. Yet to talk gibberish to the little one and look at those inquisitive eyes and try to answer his/her questions. Yet to bake birthday cakes for my little darling and I haven’t even thought of a name to call him/her, which I can repeat a thousand times before I can no longer do it.

But then I think, it would be pretty bad to leave a little kid after me and not be there. So rather than me having these little pleasures of life, it would be easier if the kid didn’t have to go through life not knowing a mother. So I pass on that one.

Apart from an unborn kid, I think my husband will miss me the most. And I , him. Since we got married, about three years back, we have done several exciting things which I hadn’t done before. Traveled different countries, hosted several family functions, went on high-altitude hiking trips, attended a dancing class, experimented different foods, and yes, got closer each day. I learnt to be much more patient than I ever was, and he learnt to feel different emotions based on the weather, the surrounding aromas and the aura of the situation. He is a handsome, smart guy and wouldn’t be difficult for him to find another girl. But I know him. He wouldn’t. And he would miss out on the joys of growing old together with someone. I don’t know if my ghost would be happier knowing that my husband did not replace me, or sad thinking two lives were wasted. He could have lived his life, and lived a little for me too.

And then I think my mom will miss me severely. I am her first-born, birthed prematurely in the seventh month. She had to nurse me with more care than her peers, as I was in the negative scale of health. From there, she brought me to where I am now. My dying at 28 would mean all her extravagant efforts at preparing me for the life to come had gone in vain. Our parents live through us, fill their hearts with our achievement and their eyes with tears for our sorrows. It would be traumatic for them to lose kids, at any age, be it 10, 20 or 70. I can see that.

My friends and family will also miss me. I don’t have too many friends, but those that I do have, are very close. Someone might even name their child after me, and perhaps my name will keep resonating in the world even after I am gone.

And lastly, I will miss myself. I have so much to do yet. Write, bake, learn a new language, sit with a stranger old lady and have her home-cooked food, and again, write. Of stories and people. Of adventures of life and of mishaps. Of love and of life.

There is still a lot to be.

Rutvika Charegaonkar

P.S : I cried while writing this post and I had to remind myself that I am not actually dying. This is a hypothetical discussion. But I cry nevertheless.

P.P.S : An astrologer had predicted that I would live to be 88. Precisely.


Whoa! That was some deep shit. Let us lighten up the mood with some orange cupcakes with orange frosting.

The orange flavor is scintillating, and the juice gives it an amazing moist lightness. The frosting is made with very little salted butter and a lot of orange juice along-with icing sugar.

Orange cupcakes

Orange Cupcakes with orange frosting

Makes about 18-20 cupcakes.

What you will need:

  • 1 and 3/4 cup (200 gms) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, separated, whites beaten stiff
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 100 gm softened butter

For frosting :

  • 1 and 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp grated orange rind
  • 2-3 tbsp orange juice

What to do:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Grease and line a muffin pan with paper cups.
  2. Combine butter, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla and cream together thoroughly.
  3. Mix flour and baking powder together in a separate mixing bowl.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed ingredients – 1/3rd at a time, alternating with adding portions of orange juice to the creamed mixture.
  5. Then fold int he beaten egg whites.
  6. Spoon the batter into cupcakes till 1/2 full.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes till a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Be careful to not over-bake.
  8. For making the frosting, mix all the ingredients together starting with 2 tablespoon of orange juice. If frosting is too thick add additional tablespoon on orange juice.
  9. Spread the frosting over the cooled cupcakes with a pastry bag or with a spoon.
  10. Decorate with orange rind.

cupcakes with frostingNotes :

  • I added a tiny bit of orange food color (just the tip of a knife) for the orange frosting. You can totally skip the added color. likewise I used fresh orange juice, you can use canned juice, but without added sugar. And these cupcakes taste delicious even without the frosting.
  • If using unsalted butter, add 1/2 tsp salt to the frosting.