International cooking for the youthful malcontent.

Chai Cupcakes

These are pretty self-explanatory, and the recipe is just a variation of my red-velvet recipe, so I won’t spend too much time discussing the basics. I love chai. I love cupcakes. Chai cupcakes sound good, right? We’ve got a basic cake mixture here (flour, eggs, sugar, liquid, leavening agent and fat) plus a variety of unique flavouring agents. Again, I’ll only mention that the fundamentals of the cupcake recipe I posted here are the same; only the flavouring agents have been altered. An adventurous baker could make just about any kind of cupcake with the basic recipe as the foundation.

The twist? Instead of using plain milk as the liquid, we heat the milk up, make tea out of it, then cool it back down and use it in the cake batter. The liquid portion of this recipe was an opportunity to add more flavour by infusing it with black tea, so why not?

Overall, these turned out pretty addictive and interesting. However, I’d say they sort of lean towards “muffin” in flavour, on account of the savory spices. How do you fix that? Sweet, creamy white icing.

Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes):

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp chai mixture (see below)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cold milk tea (see step 2)

Chai Mix:

  • 1 1/2 tsp whole green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 1/2 sticks of cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns

What you will need: large and medium-sized mixing bowls, whisk, spatula, 12-cake cupcake baking tray, and cooling rack, oven mitts, paper cupcake liners, measuring cups and spoons, spice grinder / mortar and pestle


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. By the time you’re done making the batter, the oven will be ready.
  2. Heat up 1/2 cup of milk in a small saucepan (or even, gasp,  a microwave to speed things up). Once the milk is hot to the touch, but not boiling, add 1 bag of black tea and let it soak for 3-5 minutes. Then remove the teabag and put the milk (in a covered mug or measuring cup) into the freezer to cool down. The milk needs to be cool before it’s added to the batter. Otherwise, well, you do know what happens to eggs when they get heated? We don’t want that to happen yet, so cool the milk tea.
  3. Throw all the chai spices into a spice grinder and process them until they’re a fine powder. Feel free to customize the chai spice mix. It’s chai, not a math problem – if you like cinnamon, add more. If you hate ginger, don’t put as much in, etc. 
  4. In that medium-sized bowl, add the first five ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, chai spices, cocoa powder). We’ll call this the “dry”. Whisk the dry ingredients together for 5-10 seconds to get an even mix.
  5. In the large bowl combine the oil and sugar. Stir them together using the whisk until they’re mixed into an even cream. We’ll call this bowl the “wet”.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the wet ingredients. Whisk them together until the mixture is smooth and uniform.
  7. Add the vanilla to the wet bowl. Whisk until smooth again.
  8. To the wet bowl, add half of the milk tea, and half of the dry bowl. Whisk until the batter is smooth.
  9. Add the rest of the milk tea and dry ingredients. Whisk until smooth. We add these ingredients in 2 steps to make it easier to get a smooth, lump-free batter. If you added them all at once, you tend to make a bit of a mess.
  10. Your batter is finished. Get your cupcake tray, and put one paper cup in each spot. I don’t think I need to explain this one to you. Get the tray and cups ready.
  11. Scoop batter into each paper cup until they’re about 3/4 full. There should be a little bit of batter left over, but not much. Use the spatula as necessary.
  12. Slide the baking tray onto the top rack and bake for 20 minutes.
  13. After they’re baked, remove the cupcake tray and let it sit for 3-5 minutes, then gently remove each cupcake from the tray and place them on a cooling rack. Once they’re cooled to room temperature, they’ll be ready to ice.

3 responses

  1. Anuja

    Even with the icing, they’re still more like muffins than cupcakes. They make for a good snack (or breakfast!) rather than a dessert.

    February 19, 2010 at 9:14 am

  2. OMG! This sounds fabulous. I’m going to make some this weekend.
    YUM! 😛

    April 23, 2010 at 6:08 pm

  3. ditto above comment!

    April 25, 2010 at 2:51 am

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