Tuesday 25 December 2012

Christmas Chai Inspired Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

One of the best things about festive baking is using all of the warming spices that just seem to fit in so beautifully at this time of the year. I love using mixed spice, ginger, cinnamon and allspice to create that heady Christmassy aroma but this time I wanted to combine them in a light cupcake recipe with chocolate .

I had seen a recipe for chai cupcakes in the BBC Good Food magazine (October 2011) by Edd Kimber that used chai teabags to give the flavour but as I didn't want to use teabags I decided to adapt the recipe. I think I've not really used chai spices at all, simply my own mix using what I know I enjoy (and what was available in my baking stores!) but I'm going to stick with the name anyway. I think you'd need to use cardamom and perhaps a pinch of cloves to make them more authentically chai.

If you look really hard you can just about make out my Christmas tree cupcake cases....

Chai Inspired Spiced Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream
225g butter
225g light muscovado sugar
4 eggs
225g self raising flour
110g buttermilk
1 1/2tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice

Chocolate Buttercream ***makes tonnes, far more than you need - see below***
200g butter
200g icing sugar
150g milk chocolate
50g dark chocolate
1/2tsp vanilla extract

- Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180C. Line at least 18 muffin holes with paper cases - see comment below.
- Melt the chocolate (either in the microwave or over a bowl of hot water) and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, flour and spices and beat until well combined.
- Add the buttermilk and beat again until the mixture is uniform.
- Divide between the cases. Bake for 20-25 minutes until well risen and golden.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack. 

- Cream the butter until very soft and fluffy. Add the (cooled) chocolate and half of the icing sugar and keep creaming. Add the remaining icing sugar and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Add a little milk or (boiled) water if necessary to make the frosting softer.
- Pipe or spread onto your cupcakes. Decorate as desired.

- There was too much mixture for 18 cases (I was using cupcake rather than muffin size cases - i.e. bigger than fairy cases but smaller than muffin cases - if you used muffin cases I guess it would have been ok). I ended up using three silicon cases too to take the excess. Which worked fine.
- There was far, far too much buttercream. If I'd been piping it there probably wouldn't have been quite such an excess - making swirls always takes more buttercream than you think - but if you're just spreading them like in my photos I think half the amount of buttercream would be ample.

Rudolph makes a festive appearance...

These were lovely - the spicing was quite delicate and the chocolate buttercream worked well with the cakes. The original recipe specified soured cream but I didn't have that - the buttermilk substitute worked very well in my opinion and gave lovely, soft, moist cakes. A winner, just that the quantities were a little off!

Since this recipe contains both chocolate and cinnamon, I am going to submit it to We Should Cocoa, founded by Choclette of Choc Log Blog (this month's host) and Chele of Chocolate Teapot. The theme for December is, of course, cinnamon. Yum.

As a Christmas-scented recipe I'm also submitting this to Calendar Cakes hosted by Rachel at Dolly Bakes and Laura at Laura Loves Cakes. The theme this month is (unsurprisingly!) Christmas!


underthebluegumtree said...

They sound gorgeous and I love the idea of adding cardamom too. I've found that batters containing sour cream or buttermilk make the best cupcakes. I never use anything else now.

Unknown said...

These sound really really good. I think you can freeze buttercream fairly succesfully

Karen S Booth said...

LOVELY cakes, these would have been perfect for tea time treats too, as the theme was CHOCOLATE for December! Happy New Year Caroline! Karen

The Caked Crusader said...

I love sponges made with buttermilk - they're so light!
Love your cupcakes - I find using half milk/half dark chocolate the best too!

Choclette said...

What a lovely recipe C. They look gorgeous and those spicy flavours are always good, but so much more so at this time of year somehow. I love your festive cases too. Thanks for entering them into We Should Cocoa.

Happy New Year.

Anonymous said...

I've been given The Boy Who Bakes book for Christmas and it has this recipe in - I don't have and aren't likely to buy chai teabags either so might try it with your spice combo instead, they look really nice!

Caroline said...

Claire - I think some more spices would make them more chai-like. Yes, buttermilk/yogurt/sour cream etc do seem to make much better cakes.

RJ - Yes, I should have thought of freezing the extra. Hmm, will be more organised next time.

Karen - Thanks :-)

CC - light and moist - a great cake!

Choclette - thank you. I don't think any of my colleagues noticed the festive cases - hence why I thought I'd better point them out!

HH - If you try them, be aware that it seems to make much more than 12 cupcakes! Mine are a bit different from his recipe, but the idea is the same.


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