I am not a cupcake person.
These days, cupcakes can be found everywhere and in every flavour combination imaginable. People bring in trays of store-bought cupcakes to my office and they quickly vanish, but I find it relatively easy to resist the temptation myself. I just don’t see the attraction in the small, dry little cakes with the cloyingly sweet but otherwise tasteless, gritty, artificially-coloured frosting. Am I being harsh? Yes. I am being utterly, completely judgemental of these innocent-seeming cupcakes in their rainbow of happy, pastel colours.
I suppose I shouldn’t say I’m not a cupcake person. I am not a store-bought, mass-produced cupcake person. I believe cupcakes hold the potential to be the baking equivalent of an amuse bouche: a perfect miniature bite. As it stands, I generally would much rather indulge in a date square, lemon tart, or a brownie. Perhaps I am a cupcake snob.
Today, reader, I am sharing a cupcake recipe. Am I contradicting myself? Absolutely. However, these particular cupcakes, from the Alice’s Tea Cup cookbook, are everything I would want a cupcake to be. They are delicately flavoured with spicy chai tea, and their texture (having very little flour) somewhat resembles a brownie. The icing, which also features a lovely chai spice flavour, complements the cake perfectly.
If people start bringing cupcakes like this into the office, I may be in trouble.
- 3 teaspoons chai tea leaves, ground
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 1¾ sticks (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1½ teaspoons chai tea leaves, ground
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2½ cups confectioner's (icing) sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons milk, or more if needed
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Decorating sugar (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, ground tea, and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring gently to combine. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the sugar. Let cool for 10 minutes.
- Place butter mixture in a large bowl and use a mixer to beat it for 3 minutes, until smooth. With the mixer running, add the eggs one at a time. Set the mixer to low and mix in the dry ingredients, a little bit at a time, mixing until the batter is well-blended.
- Fill a nonstick muffin pan or 12 cupcake cups half-full with batter, and bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan.
- Cream the butter, either with a mixer or by hand. Slowly add the confectioner's sugar, ground tea, ginger, and cocoa powder. Add the vanilla. Add the milk a little bit a time, mixing to desired consistency. (I needed a bit more to make it soft enough to pipe.)
- Frost the cooled cupcakes either using an offset spatula or a pastry bag. Top with decorating sugar.