This is the story of two events, one dessert. We had so many friendsgivings this year, that I almost forgot about one! It was a scramble to figure out what dessert I could make and bring to the two events we had back to back, and I had already committed to chai flavors.
I baked these Chai Latte Cupcakes a few years back from Sally's Baking Addiction, and I wanted to make them again. Only problem was, after I grabbed all of the ingredients at the store, I realized the recipe only made 14 cupcakes (bringing only 7 cupcakes to each event would probably be frowned upon), and I didn't have enough to double it.
So, I decided to shrink them instead! I turned these babies into (well, babies) minis and they were PERFECT! Especially during the holidays when everyone is too full from their meal to actually enjoy their dessert. These cupcakes are just the right size to indulge in a little post-dinner dessert without having to wolf down a huge amount (unless you eat 5 of them like my husband did, which, no judgment here!).
I also infused the chai into the milk the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight. This not only saved me time, but it allowed for the chai to steep longer, making a stronger chai-infused milk! I also made the chai spice mix the night before too. These two steps saved me some time the next day.
The chai-infused cupcake base is so deliciously soft, like little puffs of heaven. The chai spice buttercream is smooth and luscious, and a perfect compliment to the rest of the flavors without being overly sweet. A little sprinkle of the chai spice mix you create and a pinch of granulated sugar on top completes these and makes them the perfect bite!
One party guest who tried these told me they don't like coffee, chai, or cinnamon or any warm flavors, but they LOVED these, they even grabbed more than one! They were a huge hit. They're cute to photograph and even better to eat!
The standard size recipe makes about 14-15 cupcakes, if you turn them into minis, it makes about 35.
Here's What You Need:
Chai Spice Mix
2 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 and 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 and 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 bag chai tea
1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk, at room temperature
1 and 3/4 cups (207g) cake flour* (spoon & leveled)
3 and 1/2 teaspoons chai spice mix (above)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature*
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120g) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
Chai Spice Buttercream
1 and 1/2 cups (345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
5.5 – 6 cups (660-720g) confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons chai spice mix, divided
1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
optional for garnish: cinnamon sticks + mix the remaining chai spice mix + a pinch of granulated sugar
Here's What To Do:
Prepare chai spice mix: Mix all of the chai spices together. You’ll have 5 and 1/2 teaspoons to use between the cupcake batter, buttercream, and garnish.
Steep the tea*: Bring milk to a boil or heat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Pour over tea bag and steep for 20-30 minutes. This chai milk is the milk you’ll use in the cupcake batter. This can be done the day before and refrigerated overnight. Make sure the chai milk is room temperature before adding to the cupcake batter.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2-3 liners – this recipe makes 14-15 cupcakes. OR: you can use mini muffin pans and either line them with liners or use cooking spray. Set aside.
Make the cupcakes: Whisk the cake flour, 3 and 1/2 teaspoons of chai spice mix, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamed, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the egg whites on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour and mix in the chai milk *just* until combined. Do not overmix. Batter will be slightly thick and smell incredible!
Pour/spoon the batter into the liners. Fill only 2/3 full to avoid baking over the sides. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 35 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
Make the frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add 5 and 1/2 cups (660g) confectioners’ sugar, the heavy cream, 1 and 3/4 teaspoons chai spice mix, the vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If frosting looks curdled or greasy, it’s best to beat in more confectioners’ sugar to smooth it out. Beat in up to 1/2 cup (60g) more confectioners’ sugar to smooth out if needed. If frosting seems too thick to pipe or spread, beat in another Tablespoon (15ml) of cream. Taste and beat in another pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
Frost cooled cupcakes and serve. I used Wilton 8B piping tip, stuck a cinnamon stick in some of them, and sprinkled with a mix of the remaining chai spice mix and a pinch of granulated sugar.
Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Enjoy!
Make Ahead Instructions: An easy way to get a head start is to prepare the chai spice mix and steep the milk/tea 1 day ahead of time (steps 1 and 2). Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Step 2: You’ll steep 1 bag of tea in 1/2 cup of hot milk to use in the cupcake batter. You could also steep a 2nd chai tea bag with the heavy cream to use in the buttercream, if desired! Make sure it’s hot when steeping, then cool to room temperature when adding to buttercream.
Cake Flour: If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, use this homemade cake flour substitute. I suggest doing this twice, mixing it all up in 1 bowl then removing 1/4 cup since you need 1 and 3/4 cups in this recipe.
Why is Everything at Room Temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. More here on why room temperature ingredients matter.