Winter has arrived fashionably late here in Western Montana, and that calls for some creamy, delicious chai cupcakes. I have never been a huge hot chocolate fan - whenever it’s cold outside and I need to cut the chill after outdoor chores (or play time), I head directly to a big cup of thick, creamy chai tea. The combination of warm spices, hot tea, and sweet milk are so soothing, and that was what I was going for when I first figured out this cupcake recipe.
A spicy chai cupcake with a thick and creamy vanilla buttercream, this is one of my absolute favorite cupcakes, and kids love it too! For comfort food after a long day in the snow or just cuddling up on the couch with a book by the fire, I hope you love this delicious cupcake as much as I do!
Makes 21 Cupcakes
For the Cupcakes:
2 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger powder
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup milk
1 ½ Tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons Vanilla
2/3 cup butter (melted)
For the Frosting:
1 ½ cups room temperature salted butter
5 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Milk or heavy cream as needed
½ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
-Preheat oven to 350F
-In a large bowl, mix together sugar, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, and pepper.
-In a small bowl, mix together milk and vinegar. Set aside.
-In another small bowl, mix together water, vanilla, and butter.
-Pour milk mixture and water mixture into the dry ingredients and mix together until well incorporated (I use an electric mixer). Scrape the sides and mix again.
-Line cupcake pans with cupcake liners. I find that this makes about 21 cupcakes (almost two full 12-cupcake trays.
-Fill cupcake liners ¾ full of batter. This is a very runny cupcake batter, so I use a measuring cup with a pour spout on the front to do this.
-Bake at 350F for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
-Once cool, make the frosting.
-This frosting recipe makes exactly the amount that I need for 21 cupcakes. If you want some left over, I suggest making it with 2 cups of butter, 6-7 cups of powdered sugar, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Same instructions, but you should have a little more left over to scoop with graham crackers later…
-In a large bowl using an electric mixer (I ALWAYS use a hand mixer for frosting because I find that it whips faster than a stand mixer, but either one will work), cream the butter until it is fluffy and smooth.
-Sift in 3 cups of powdered sugar and whip together. This may turn into a crumble at first, but just keep going. It will eventually bond into a thick frosting consistency.
-Add in vanilla and whip.
-Sift in 2 more cups of powdered sugar and whip until well incorporated and fluffy.
-I prefer a thick, buttery frosting for these cupcakes because it feels like you are eating a creamy chai latte. If this is too thick for your liking, just whip in a tablespoon or two at a time of milk or heavy cream.
-In a separate small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. There is really no exact rhyme or reason to this. I honestly guessed on the amounts here, and I usually just have a jar of cinnamon sugar buried in the back of my cabinet that I get out for decorating. Just mix them together and if you like more cinnamon (or want more cinnamon color), just add more cinnamon.
-Top the cupcakes with frosting using a piping bag with a large tip, a knife, or a spoon. While I am not always a “add more frosting” fan, I like this cupcake to have a lot of frosting to balance with the spicy cupcake. You are also welcome to decorate this however you like with fancy tips, but I like the rustic feel of this large circular tip dragged around on the top.
- Sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on top and enjoy!