These Chai Cupcakes are covered with Chai Spice Buttercream and filled with a creamy and buttery Chai Custard. The flowery and aromatic chai tea flavor from the chai-infused milk used to make the cupcakes and custard filling will be enjoyed with each bite.
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Chai Spice Mix
- 2 teaspoon (5 g) ground cinnamon
- 1¼ teaspoon (3 g) ground ginger
- 1¼ teaspoon (3 g) ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup (120 ml) milk
- 1 chai tea bag
- 1½ cups (191 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon (8 g) Chai Spice Mix
- ¼ cup (56 g) room temperature unsalted butter
- ¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
- ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240 ml) milk
- ⅓ cup (66 g) granulated sugar, divided
- ½ vanilla bean
- 1 chai tea bag
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons (16 g) cornstarch
- ½ tsp Chai Spice Mix
- 2 tablespoons (10 g) unsalted butter
Chai Spice Buttercream
- 1½ cups (339 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups (382 g) powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons (5 g) Chai Spice Mix
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) milk (see Note)
To make the Chai Spice Mix, mix the cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg in a small bowl. If you dislike a certain spice, feel free to substitute another spice of your choice. If you dislike cloves, replace them with extra allspice. The recipe makes 5½ teaspoons (13 g) of chai spice, which is enough for the entire recipe.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and prepare 12 12 cupcake tins with cupcake liners to make the Chai Cupcakes.
Bring the milk to a boil in a saucepan, then remove from the heat after the first bubbles appear. Allow the tea bag to infuse in the milk for 5 minutes. Leave the milk to cool after removing the tea bag.
Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and Chai Spice Mix in a large mixing bowl. Put aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the butter for about 45 seconds on medium speed. Mix in the oil until it is completely incorporated. Beat in the granulated sugar for another minute. Scrape down the edges of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking each one until mixed before proceeding. Mix in the vanilla extract. Check that the milk is at room temperature before adding it to the batter and mixing until incorporated. Finally, mix in the sifted dry ingredients using a rubber spatula until well combined.
Evenly distribute the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them approximately two-thirds of the way. Bake for about 18 minutes. Begin checking the cupcakes at the 15-minute mark and continue baking and monitoring as needed. To check if the cupcakes are done, lightly press your finger on the top of the cupcakes; if they spring back, they are completed baking. Allow the cupcakes to cool fully before filling and frosting them.
In a small saucepan, mix the milk, 3 tablespoons (36 g) of the sugar, and the vanilla bean seeds to make the Chai Custard. Bring the milk almost to a boil, then remove from the heat as soon as you see the first bubbles appear. Allow the tea bag to infuse in the milk for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, mix the egg yolks, the remaining 2⅓ tablespoons (30 g) granulated sugar, and the cornstarch. Remove the tea bag from the milk and whisk in a couple of tablespoons (30 ml) of the hot milk mixture to the yolks. Once the first quantity of milk has been whisked into the eggs, add a little more and repeat until all of the milk has been whisked into the yolks.
Return the mixture to the saucepan after straining it through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any cooked egg remains. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously with a spatula or wooden spoon to incorporate the Chai Spice Mix. If you stop stirring, the eggs will cook on the bottom of the pan.
Cook the custard for a few minutes. It may first appear lumpy, but as you continue to stir, it will thicken and smooth out, becoming a rich and silky custard. When this happens, take the custard from the heat immediately, mix in the butter, and transfer to a small bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap directly on top of the custard to prevent it from forming a skin as it cools. Refrigerate the custard for a couple of hours, or until completely chilled.
Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer to make the Chai Spice Buttercream. Cream for around 4 minutes on medium-high speed, or until extremely fluffy and lightened in color. Sift the powdered sugar and Chai Spice Mix together in a large mixing bowl.
Add the sifting mixture to the creamed butter while the mixer is turned off. Mix on low speed until the sugar and butter are combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat the sugar and butter for 1 minute. Mix in the vanilla and milk until well mixed.
If the buttercream is too runny, add another tablespoon (8 g) sifted powdered sugar and combine well. If the buttercream is too stiff, add a teaspoon of milk at a time, mixing in between, until you have a creamy, firm yet smooth buttercream.
To assemble the cupcakes, remove the center of each cupcake with a spoon. Spoon some Chai Custard into the center of the cupcakes. Place the Chai Spice Buttercream in a piping bag fitted with your preferred piping tip. Using a piping bag, pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.
The cupcakes can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 4 days.
When we infused the milk with the chai tea bag to make the cupcake batter, we used an additional 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of milk in addition to the ½ cup (120 ml) necessary for the cupcake recipe. The buttercream was then made using 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of cooled milk flavored with chai tea. You can use regular milk instead, or infuse it with the tea for an additional chai tea flavor.
For more recipes checkout Fantastic Filled Cupcakes by Camila Hurst