Oh hello there kitchen...It's so nice to see you again! You see, I've been on the road for the last month and a half interviewing for residency positions. All the constant traveling has given me little time to cook, not to mention photograph and blog what I've been making! I have had quite a few memorable meals, though, but I have missed the blog. I decided to celebrate blogging again by making something sweet. When I put up the chai post, a couple of my friends commented that they were so happy to be able to make the chai at home, but weren't sure if they would be able to use up all of the masala in a reasonable amount of time. That request, and a little inspiration from the Lion's sister (who makes AMAZING chai cupcakes) prompted me to make these cupcakes!
In the summer time when my parents have fresh mint growing like a weed in the garden, we make our chai spruced up with fresh lemongrass and fresh mint. I absolutely love that chai, and thought it would be nice to try to capture that beautiful flavor combination in a cupcake. I wanted to maintain a nice chai flavor in the cupcake part itself and thought that a slightly sweet, lemongrass-mint whipped cream would be a nice complement to a spicy chai cupcake.
I turned to the lovely Ad Hoc at Home for a base cupcake recipe. I used the white cupcake recipe and spiced it up with some double strength, unsweetened chai, and a good helping of chai masala. I then steeped some lemongrass and mint in the whipped cream. One quick note about the cupcake recipe I used is that it is a tad bit persnickety--a cupcake batter is made, then you make a meringue, and then fold that into the batter. They are delicious, but do feel free to take your favorite white cupcake recipe, eliminate the vanilla, and add the chai instead of the liquid in the recipe and a teaspoon of chai masala to make it extra spicy. Enjoy!
Adapted from White Cupcakes in Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
Makes 12 cupcakes
For the Cupcakes:
6 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1 and 1/4 cup sugar, divided
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 pinches salt
3 egg whites
2/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup water
2 tsp. black tea (see the chai post for what type to use), divided
1 and 1/2 tsp. chai masala
For the Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
1/2 tsp. dried crushed mint
6 3 inch sprigs dried lemongrass
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar or more to taste
Make the chai for the cupcakes:
Combine the milk and the water in a spouted pot and add the black tea and 1/2 tsp. chai masala. Bring to a boil, and cook until it is dark brown color with strong aromas of tea. Strain and allow to cool to room temperature.
Start the whipped cream:
Place 1/3 of the whipped cream in a small saucepan along with the mint and lemongrass until just below a simmer. Take off the stove and place in the fridge to allow to cool.
Make the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line one 12 cupcake tin with papers.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, remaining chai masala (1 tsp.) and salt in a large bowl.
Cream together the butter and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Be sure to scrape down the sides frequently. Once the butter and sugar are well combined, begin to add the flour mixture and the chai. Add the flour mixture in the three parts, and the chai in two parts starting with the flour and alternating with the chai. Mix well after each addition. Transfer to a large bowl, and clean and dry the stand mixer bowl very well.
Put the egg whites in the stand mixer bowl, and fit the mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until the eggs get foamy. Increase the speed to medium high and slowly add in the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Continue to beat on high speed until the egg whites become nearly stiff peaked.
Fold in 1/3 of the egg white into the chai batter to lighten it up a bit. Once it has lightened up, add the remaining 2/3 of the egg white mixture and carefully fold into the batter. Portion out the batter into the cupcake liners until they are about 2/3 full. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, rotate, and bake for another 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Cool.
Make the whipped cream:
Strain the whipped cream into the bowl of the stand mixer and combine with the remaining 2/3 of the whipped cream. Begin to beat at slow speed until foamy. Slowly add powdered sugar and increase speed. Taste the cream and see if you would like more sugar and see if you would like more sugar. Beat until the cream holds soft peaks.
Finish it up:
Once the cupcakes are totally cool, frost with whipped cream and enjoy!