Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chai & Honey Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

My little 17-month old made his second trip to the hospital this past week. Unfortunately this has been his second stint there and the doctors and nurses at NYU Medical Center have been beyond excellent, warm, understanding and supportive. So as a gesture to thank them, I baked these cupcakes.
The sweet tooth in me didn't survive too long and I ate the slightly broken cupcake (hmm… or maybe I broke it subconsciously to be able to eat it!). 

When I read this recipe in my cupcake book (Cupcakes, by Shelley Kaldunski) I made note that this would definitely be the next cupcake recipe that I baked. It was definitely worth the wait! 

The buttermilk makes these cupcakes moist and delicious! But let's face it, half way through recipes you realize that you're out of, or don't have enough buttermilk in the refrigerator or you don't want to buy a carton of it for just 1/4 cup as this recipe calls for. You can substitute it with the 5 minute recipe below.

Add one tablespoon of lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Then, add whole milk until the amount reaches the one cup mark. Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 5–10 minutes. The milk should look curdled. Stir and you have homemade buttermilk!

This recipe also calls for chai-spiced tea bags. The Indian girl in me will never use one of those! So I brewed my own chai, and sipped on a cup while baking and used the rest in the recipe. 

This is my very classic chai recipe:
Bring 2 cups water to boil. 
Add 3 of your favorite black tea teabags with 1/2-inch ginger grated, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 cloves, whole black pepper and 4 cardamon pods (crushed).
Let it brew for 3–5 minutes.
Set aside 2/3 cup for this recipe and then add 1 cup milk and sugar (to your liking) for your remaining 2 cups of tea. 

Makes 12 cupcakes
3 chai-spice tea bags (or 2/3 cup chai from the above recipe)
2/3 cup boiling water
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup honey
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, at room temperature

4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 pounds confectioners' sugar
4 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon powder


  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
  2. In a small bowl, steep the chai-spiced tea bags in 2/3 cup boiling water or alternatively make your own cup of spiced chai. Discards the bags (and spices), let the tea cool.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the honey, melt butter, buttermilk and egg. 
  5. Add the flour mixture and using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until just combined, about 2 minutes. 
  6. Add the cooled tea and beat until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  7. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. 
  8. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18–20 minutes.
  9. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. (The unfrosted cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before frosting and garnishing).
  10. While the cupcakes bake and cool make the buttercream (or defrost leftover buttercream like I did, and flavor it with cinnamon powder).
  11. With a mixer on medium speed, cream the butter in a large mixing bowl. Reduce the speed to low and add the cinnamon confectioners' sugar a little bit at a time, alternating with splashes of the milk and and the vanilla. Mix until frosting is smooth. 

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