For Valentine’s Day in previous years, I have typically gone for baking the standard brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and other chocolate-related desserts. This year, I wanted to mix it up a little, knowing that I was going to be consuming mass amounts of chocolate in other forms anyways, and bake something not within the chocolate realm. I came to the idea of vanilla chai cupcakes after seeing a boxed version of them being sold in the grocery stores. As an avid chai tea drinker, the idea of that flavor infused into a cupcake sounded like heaven to me.
In my quest to find a good, homemade recipe, I came across this one from Bread Booze Bacon (side note: what an excellent blog name). I followed their recipe almost exactly, except I ended up substituting the instant chai powder and milk for organic liquid vanilla chai latte concentrate, which I was able to conveniently find at Trader Joe’s. It should be noted that this substitution also prompted the need for one cup of flour instead of 3/4 cup.
The core factor of this recipe is obviously the mixture of spices. Anyone who has ever tasted chai tea before is familiar with the very distinct taste that it has. I have heard many people describe it as tasting “like Christmas”, which is why I opted to go for the vanilla chai flavor in order to lighten up the flavor in the spirit of Valentine’s Day. Whilst scouring my pantry for all of the necessary ingredients, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had almost every single one of the spices – with the exception of cloves, which then prompted a quick trip to the grocery store. While I ended up with barely enough batter to fill up each cupcake liner (the ones I bought were larger than normal), I still think that the cupcakes came out great. I ended up with a dozen, which is the perfect amount because it limits the temptation for a cupcake binge. I also only had to bake them for exactly 15 minutes before they passed the toothpick test.
After letting the cupcakes cool for an hour, which is precisely when I took the time to run out to the grocery store to get the cloves needed for the next step, they were good and ready for my favorite part, the frosting. The frosting for this particular cupcake is basically a typical buttercream infused with spices. I can also confirm that it tastes delicious after many, many taste tests. When I made the frosting, I only ended up having to add one tablespoon of skim milk to the mixture to make it easier to put into my Wilton Dessert Decorator. I also have to add that I had a total sitcom moment whilst making the frosting when my stand mixer went turbo and threw the powdered sugar all over me and the floor, even with the pouring shield on! I’m sure I looked hilarious, but I was thankfully home alone when this happened so I was able to bask in my shame on my own.
In putting my own holiday twist on this great recipe, I added some festive heart sprinkles on top of the frosting. I was lucky to also find exactly 12 mini-Valentine’s Day toothpick flags to add to make the cupcakes even more holiday-appropriate, which helped me achieve the aesthetic I was going for with these cupcakes. All in all, this ended up being a great recipe to use – again, major props to Bread Booze Bacon – and my family and I will be enjoying these for dessert tonight following our dinner of heart-shaped pizza. With that, I hope everyone has (or had) a lovely day today, whether you celebrate it or not!