Recipe: Chocolate cupcakes with apricot jam frosting

These cupcakes are inspired by the chocolate-dipped apricots my mom would make each year for Passover. The moist, chocolaty cake gets topped with a sweet-tart frosting amped up with apricot jam. A sprinkle of chopped dried apricots seals the deal. They are not kosher for Passover (see page 330), so stick with the chocolate-dipped fruit during the holiday, and enjoy these cupcakes the other 51 weeks of the year. Makes 12 cupcakes


  • 1 cup/125 G all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup/35 G cocoa powder
  • 1 cup/200 G granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee*
  • 1/2 cup/120 ML boiling water
  • 1/2 cup/120 ML vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup/120 ML milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • *You can substitute 1/2 cup/120 ml of hot brewed coffee for the instant if you prefer. I like using instant because it saves me from brewing a whole pot of coffee and I honestly don’t taste a difference.



  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp apricot jam
  • 2 tbsp milk, plus more as needed
  • 11/2 cups/150 G confectioners' sugar
  • finely chopped dried apricots for topping


1. Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, and granulated sugar. In a small bowl, stir together the instant coffee and boiling water, then add it to the flour mixture along with the vegetable oil, milk, vanilla, and egg and stir well to combine.

3. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake until the tops are firm to the touch and a tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

4. Meanwhile, make the frosting: In a stand mixer or using a handheld electric mixer and a medium bowl, beat the butter, apricot jam, milk, and 1/2 cup/50 g of the confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed until smooth. Slowly add the remaining 1 cup/100 g confectioners’ sugar, beating until creamy. 

5. Spread a generous amount of frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with chopped dried apricot. Serve at room temperature.

From Leah Koenig's 'Modern Jewish Cooking'

Calendar March 28-April 3



Whether by Kindle or by candle, people were reading long before they were tweeting. This year, the Music Center is celebrating the biggest coalition of locally based authors and publishers. The day features all kinds of activities and readings, including a sing-along duet from the Zimmer Children’s Museum, as well as a Yiddish reading from Michael Casper. The day also highlights the work of Artizen Lab, an online platform to share and inspire ideas. Noon-5 p.m. Free. Grand Park, 200 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 972-8080. ” target=”_blank”>


Be part of the Middle East conversation — in a way you might not have considered. This joint Israeli-Palestinian organization is made up of more than 600 bereaved families. United by the heartbreak of losing a loved one during the conflict, these families choose reconciliation instead of revenge. Today’s discussion will feature Parents Circle Families Forum international spokespersons Robi Damelin and Bassam Aramin. There will be a Q-and-A session as well. This special L.A. tour will offer a few opportunities to engage with the group. Free. 11:30 a.m. IKAR, 5870 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. Other participating synagogues are Temple Aliyah, Shomrei Torah, Adat Ariel and Stephen Wise. Check website for details. SUN | MARCH 29


He’s known as a super-virtuoso, a “pianists’ pianist.” A specialist in Romantic and early 20th-century music, Abbey Simon dabbles in Chopin, Schumann, Ravel and others. He’s toured all over the world, appearing with the New York Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw and more. He’s also a distinguished Cullen professor of piano at the Moores School of Music in Houston. So come get classy and listen to some classical keys; tonight’s program includes Beethoven and Brahms. 6 p.m. Free. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 857-6010.MON | MARCH 30


From the international best-seller who brought you “The Art of Racing in the Rain” comes a new novel, “A Sudden Light.” When a boy tries to save his parents’ marriage, he uncovers a legacy of family secrets in a coming-of-age ghost story — of which, let’s be honest, there are not enough. Garth Stein, who co-produced the Academy Award-winning short film “The Lunch Date,” uses his keen, empathic understanding of human motivation to deliver a connective and universal story. 7 p.m. Free. Book Soup, 8818 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 659-3110. ” target=”_blank”>



In L.A. theaters tonight is an extravagant and entertaining parody from director Eytan Fox (“Yossi”). In contemporary Tel Aviv, six best friends from different backgrounds gather to watch the popular “UniverSong” singing competition. Appalled by the Israeli entry, they decide to take matters into their own hands. With irresistibly catchy tunes and a gloriously uplifting story line, “Cupcakes” is an ode to music, friendship and romance. Various times. $11. Music Hall 3, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 478-3836. Town Center 5, 17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 981-9811.

Shabbat at the Ford

On Friday, August 29, Cantor Craig Taubman hosted his fourth annual Shabbat at the Ford, which took place at the historic Ford Amphitheater. The open-air venue was the perfect setting for such an event. “It’s the summer for gosh sakes,” remarked Taubman, and it sure felt like it, with sweltering temperatures reaching the 90s by mid-day.

At 6 pm, the event kickstarted in the theater’s courtyard with a picnic-style BYOK (Bring Your Own Kiddush). Families and friends shared makeshift Shabbat meals served in tupperware containers while they sipped two buck chuck from plastic cups. The overall mood was easy and relaxed as klezmer-revivalist band Mostly Kosher serenaded the crowd.

Mostly Kosher performs in the courtyard, frontman Leeav Sofer, age 23, on the clarinet (photo credit: Tess Cutler)

Meanwhile, event sponsors passed out challah samples, brochures and spice bags to attendees from their respective booths.

An especially inventive booth featured Shalom Institute’s smoothie machine, a blender powered by a stationary bicycle. “It’s all part of environmental education,” said Marsha Rothpan, Family Program Director for The Shalom Institute, as she cycled on the bike and powered the blender. “I also like to ride bikes!” she smiled, maintaining an impressive pedal torque without breaking a sweat.

Shalom Institute's Marsha Rothpan operates the pedal-powered blender with gusto (photo credit: Tess Cutler)

Among the concert goers, Rachel Kennison and her son Dustin Morris, age 14, picniced with Kathy Leader and her son Nick Leader, 15. Congregants of the Reform Leo Baeck Temple, Kennison and Leader sprawled a blanket on the steps leading up to the amphitheater, displaying a decadent spread of wine and s’more cupcakes topped with “Leo Baeck Temple” logos printed on sugar buttons (made possible by Randy Fett, president of Baeck Temple). “Our amazing president thinks about things like this,” said Kennison as she pulled apart a cupcake and marshmallow filling oozed out. They, along with 75 other congregants from their temple, came to support Rabbi Ken Chasen.

From left to right: Rachel Kennison, Dustin Morris, Nick Leader, and Kathy Leader (photo credit: Ryan Torok)

Around 7:30 PM, people started flocking to the theater with ticket stubs in hand. By 8 PM, the service was full throttle. The shabbat service, a two-hour long concert, featured an eclectic lineup of performers, ranging from the LIFE choir, a 20+ gospel ensemble fronted by H.B. Barnum, to Jewish rapper Kosha Dillz, who played a gig in Mississippi just the night before. Finalist  of the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest, Israeli singer Shany Zamir also took the stage, sporting her signature blonde tresses and a floor-length white gown.

Shany Zamir blends pop and tradition in her performance (photo credit: Ryan Torok)

At the halfway mark, Valley Beth Shalom’s Rabbi Feinstein delivered a heart-wrenching sermon about real-life angels, and specifically about his own angel, an African-American nurse named Charles who sat at Feinstein’s bedside for ten nights while he was admitted in intensive care. “Tonight we celebrate angels- because it’s been a terrible summer,” said Feinstein, as he listed genocides, wars, and outbreaks that have plagued the news for the past three months. “Let’s go be an angel,” he finished.

Shabbat at the Ford was made possible by a grant awarded to the Pico Union Project, Taubman’s multicultural initiative, by the Jewish Community Foundation. Partners of the Project, including trilingual Pastor Abraham Chung (who speaks Korean, English and Hebrew) and Pastor Omar Perich, participated in the services.

Pastor Perich took a moment to introduce members of Victory Outreach, a church comprised of rehabilitated gang-members and drug addicts. A congregant of Victory Outreach, this was Ray Morales’ first time at a Shabbat service. Born and raised in east LA, he was in and out of prison for most his life, until he found Victory Church two and a half years ago. “It’s a different culture,” Morales said of the evening, “but it’s cool that everyone came together.” Also a member of Victory Outreach, Sonny Santiago, age 23, said this was his second time attending a Shabbat service, “I love the music, I love the culture of it, I love how everybody comes together. It’s beautiful.”

The stage was a sight for sore eyes, as red, yellow and blue lights saturated the stage, and back-up singers, guitarists, pastors, rabbis, cantors, spoken word artists, a choir, dance troupe, sign language interpreter, and an array of musicians all contributed to a patchwork ensemble of mixed races and faiths. Taubman, with his silver hair, crisp white button-down and black slacks, led the service masterfully with a guitar in hand.