Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Spiced Chai Latte Cupcakes

You know how I'm obsessed with pinterest? I found this recipe there last week. I was dying to try it and convinced myself to wait for a while for diet considerations. Well, today my will power collapsed and I decided I was done waiting. What caused this baking fit? A couple of things. 1) I have a sweet tooth the size of a small continent. 2) the blog this recipe comes from is a new favorite. 3) I drink chai tea every morning with milk and a little natural sweetener. A cupcake that basically embodies my morning drink was nearly irresistible. 3) As I go through my daily routine and check the blogs I follow, I keep coming across this thing called Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It was widely hailed as the best frosting ever. That title naturally perked my curiosity, how could it not? On the ever continuing quest for the perfect cake, the perfect frosting, the perfect cupcake, I could hardly resist trying this recipe. It is an amazing find. I am usually a loyal cream cheese frosting girl. This frosting could change my loyalties. It is sweet, but not too sweet, soft, smooth, creamy and unbelievable. It is also flexible enough to go with almost anything and could go well with tons of additions, like cinnamon and vanilla for these cupcakes.

The cupcakes are also unbelievable. They are light and fluffy and soft. The apartment smelled like Christmas while I was baking them. As non-chocolate desserts go, these are my favorite. Period.

Spiced Chai Latte Cupcakes
from Love and Olive Oil

1 cup soy milk
4 black tea bags
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

I started by heating up the soy milk in a small pan. Once the milk was steaming, but not boiling, I turned off the heat and added the tea bags. I let the bags steep for about ten minutes. At this time, I also took the butter out of the fridge to soften. The butter really needs to be room temperature, so it's important to do this step ahead of time.

While the tea was steeping, I whisked together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, salt and spices.

Once the tea finished steeping, I squeezed the extra liquid out of the bags and measured it again. I added a little more soy milk so that there was one cup of liquid.

Next, I added the vinegar and let it curdle the milk.

Once the milk curdled, I added the milk, oil, vanilla, and sugar to the flour mixture and stirred until the mix was smooth.

Then I divided the batter between 12 cupcake liners. The good news for my baking weakness is that this recipe only makes 12 cupcakes, but depending on the day, I could see how that is a bad thing as well. The recipe said to put about 1/4 of a cup of batter in each liner, but I found that amount to be too much. Each liner should be about 2/3 full. Don't be afraid to fiddle around with it. I usually try and eyeball the amounts and if necessary take a spoon and pull a little batter from one liner to use in another.

I baked the cupcakes at 350 for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted and removed cleanly, but be careful not to go too long! Dry cupcakes are never fun.

I then let the cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack. I also noticed something very bizarre. All of the cupcakes in these tin liners are small, with round tops and don't overflow the edges....

While all of the cupcakes in the opaque white liners were flat topped and tended to overflow. I think it's because the tin provides more support- it is certainly way easier to remove the ones in tin liners from the pan. Both kinds come in one pack and they alternate, so I'm wondering if you are supposed to use both on each cupcake? Maybe the white on the inside and the tin on the outside? Is this an incredibly stupid thought process? I swear I'm smart. But seriously, if anyone has any ideas, shoot 'em this way.

Once the cupcakes were cool, I started the aforementioned frosting. I put the sugar and the egg whites in the top part of a double broiler over simmering water. I whisked together the sugar and egg whites for about 3 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved and the mix looks like runny marshmallow cream.

Then I put the marshmallow-looking substance into a big bowl and beat the mix until it was nice and thick (about 7 minutes since I don't have a stand mixer, probably closer to 5 if you do).

Next, I started adding the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating constantly. Make sure you incorporate each tablespoon of butter before adding another. Once you've added all the butter, beat another 5 minutes or so until it's really thick and smooth like the picture.

Then add the vanilla and cinnamon and mix until they are both well blended. My frosting turned out to be much more tan colored than the picture on the original website, but the flavor is amazing.

Then, using a piping bag, or a simple knife, pile a big dollop of frosting onto the cupcakes and smooth around. Trust me, the frosting makes a lot and you don't want to waste any, so pile it on!

Repeat until they are all frosted and enjoy!!!

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