Posted in Recipes on 11.02.2023
Chai Spice Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream
prep: 20 mins / cook: 25 mins / inactive: 60 mins / total: 1 hour 45 mins / quantity: 12 cupcakes Print recipe?
Chai spice cupcakes with rich chocolate, topped with a fluffy chocolate buttercream frosting for a delightful afternoon treat!
While it might be forever autumn in my heart – maybe something to do with being born at the end of August – these chilly February days, I think, also call for these rather heavenly chai spice cupcakes. Light, fluffy vegan chocolate cupcakes have been infused with all those warming chai spices. Chocolate and chai. What an absolutely perfect match.
When brainstorming cupcake ideas – yep I do that – I realised I was really missing autumn. Last summer was just too hot for me and, turns out, this winter is too cold! And is there anything better on a cold afternoon than curling up with a good book, a hot beverage and a homemade cupcake? Top with the fluffiest chocolate buttercream and thoroughly enjoy the fruits of your labour.
I’ve also added the cutest little mini chocolate bars. For, you know, that extra decadence. Because sometimes we need a treat. I try and eat as healthy as I know how but sometimes there’s a cupcake shaped hole that fruit and vegetables just can’t fill. Tell me I’m not the only one?
What is chai spice?
With a whole culture of its own, chai originated in India and literally translates to “tea” in Hindi. So when we say chai tea we’re actually saying ‘tea tea’.
During the British colonisation of India in the mid eighteenth century tea consumption grew, eventually leading to Indians taking the British preparation of tea – black with milk and sugar – and adding their own blend of spices.
There are regional and even house or family variations of the tea. Black tea is most often used as the base, Assam specifically, as it has a strong, full-bodied flavour.
As to the spices, this can also vary greatly but is mostly a combination of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, star anise and cloves. But can also include pepper, coriander, nutmeg and fennel.
Chai bags or spice mix?
For the chai spice blend for these vegan treats I considered using chai tea bags but a couple of things stopped me. Firstly, if you’re going to name a recipe according to an ingredient, it really should taste of that ingredient and I wasn’t sure if using the chai bags would impart enough flavour into the chocolate cupcakes. Secondly, most of the spices you’re likely to already have in your cupboard which in turn makes the chai spice blend infinitely more adaptable. If you don’t like a particular spice, simply leave it out!
How to make vegan cupcakes:
Start with your chai spice blend. I went with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, allspice and black pepper. I was really intrigued by the addition of black pepper but it just works! In fact, next time I think I might increase the quantity! If there’s a spice you don’t have or don’t like just leave it out. The smell of the spices mixed together is just marvellous!
In a small bowl or jug whisk together the milk, vinegar, yoghurt and oil. I use a light oil – something like a vegetable or sunflower oil – for all my baking. It basically captures the gases that are released from the interaction of the baking powder and baking soda. This slows down gluten formation to keep certain baked goods tender and fluffy in texture. It’s also cheaper than butter or the more artisanal oils like avocado or nut oil!
In a large bowl mix together your dry ingredients – the flour, baking powder, bicarb, cacao powder and your chai spice blend. I use raw cacao powder in chocolate baking again for a couple of reasons. It’s far less processed than cocoa powder and has a much richer, more chocolatey flavour. It contains no additional sugar or additives and it even has a few health benefits! It IS more expensive than cocoa powder though, so bake according to your budget. No recipe is ever set in stone 😉
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together. Stir up from the bottom of the bowl to make sure that no ‘pockets’ of flour remain.
Scoop the batter into your cupcake cakes and bake for 25-30 minutes. They should be springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the centre of one of the cupcakes comes out clean with no raw cake clinging to it.
Allow your cupcakes to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before lifting out onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
How to make vegan chocolate buttercream frosting:
It’s as easy as regular chocolate buttercream we’re just swapping the dairy butter for non-dairy butter. If you can find it, the Flora plant butter is one of the best. It has such a rich, creamy and, well, buttery flavour!
Simply beat the softened butter together with the icing sugar and cacao powder until very fluffy. The easiest way to do this is with a stand mixer with the paddle attachment but it can be done by hand.
Spoon the buttercream frosting into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe swirls on top of your cooled cupcakes.
I’ve added mini chocolate bars that are super simple to make and can be done while your cupcakes are baking for a bit of extra whimsey! I use these chocolate moulds. So cute and so versatile! Got some edible gold powder? Brush that on the inside of the moulds before adding the chocolate for even more glitz and glam!
How to store your chocolate cupcakes:
Keep in an airtight container at room temperature. The cupcakes can be chilled or even frozen but are best eaten at ambient temperature.
If you’re freezing the cupcakes they can be frozen before they’re frosted and even fully loaded! Defrost for a couple of hours again at room temp.
Looking for even more vegan cupcakes? Try these:
Creamy buttery caramel cupcakes
If you make these Chai Spice Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream or any of the recipes from The Cook & Him I’d LOVE to see! Just snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #thecookandhim and tagging @thecookandhim in the photo itself (as this guarantees I’ll see your picture!)
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Chai Spice Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream
prep: 20 mins / cook: 25 mins / inactive: 60 mins / total: 1 hour 45 mins / quantity: 12 cupcakes
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup (150ml) non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup (120g) vegan yoghurt
1/3 cup (80ml) light oil like vegetable or sunflower oil
1 cup (200g) golden caster sugar
1 + 1/4 cups (200g) self raising flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 cup (25g) raw cacao powder
1 cup (230g) vegan butter – softened
3 cups (400g) icing sugar
1/4 cup (25g) raw cacao powder
mini chocolate bars (optional decoration)
12 hole muffin tin + muffin cases
Piping bag + star nozzle
Silicon chocolate mould (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 180 Fan / 200 C / 400 F / Gas 6 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin cases
- In a small bowl thoroughly stir together the chai spices
- In a small bowl or jug whisk together the milk, vinegar, yoghurt and oil
- In a large bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb, cacao powder and chai spices
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well, stirring up from the bottom of the bowl, making sure there are no flour 'pockets'
- Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases, filling each one roughly 3/4 full
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cupcakes are springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the middle of one of the cupcakes comes out clean with no raw cake mix clinging to it
- Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then lift out onto a cooling rack to cool completely
- To make the buttercream beat together the softened butter, icing sugar and cacao powder until very fluffy. It's easiest to use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment but this can also be done by hand
- Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe swirls on top of each cooled cupcake
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature
- These cupcakes can also be stored in the fridge or freezer but are best eaten at room temperature. If freezing the cupcakes can be frozen both before and after frosting - use a large enough tub to 'house' the piped cupcakes!
Hello and welcome to The Cook & Him.
We are Sam (The Cook), Phil (Him) and our little dog Nooch. What started with a plan to shed a few pounds back in 2016, soon became obvious that eating healthy doesn’t have to be bland and boring.
So, combining Sam’s 15 years of experience working within Michelin starred restaurants and our love for deliciously healthy food, we’re creating recipes for you to make and enjoy. We’ve added our own unique spin on traditional and contemporary vegetarian and vegan recipes that keep you (and your pets!) healthy and full. And we make sure they just work.
All things autumn - warming soups, savoury bakes and delicious sweet treats!
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