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Monday, May 29, 2006

Chocolate Chai Spice Cupcake

chocolate chai spice cupcake

I must admit... I almost felt like I was cheating with this recipe. I used my current favorite chocolate recipe and added a few teaspoons of ground up spices - that was it!

But while the approach was straight forward, the result was great. The spices shown through the flavor of the chocolate just enough to add complexity and interest to the experience. The moist chocolatey goodness of the cake can live on its own, but ultimately, the frosting is what makes it a cupcake and the simple chai spice buttercream was a great addition. Not too overwhelming, but enhancing the flavor all the more. (I added a bit extra minced fresh ginger which was a nice touch.)

Just goes to show you... with a great base recipe and a rummage through the spice rack or pantry, anyone can come up with an interesting and tasty concoction. Days later, my husband is still talking about them and they seemed to be a hit at the art opening I made them for.

Chai Spice Mix

2 teaspoons fennel, whole
2 teaspoons cloves, whole
1 tablespoon cardamom, ground
2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
2 teaspoons ginger, ground

1. With a small food processor, grind up the whole fennel and cloves.
2. Transfer to a small bowl and add remaining spices. Mix to combine.

chai spice mix
chai spice mix

Chocolate Chai Spice Cupcakes
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

200 gram bar of Valrhona 61% cacao
3 sticks butter
2-1/4 cups sugar
8 eggs
1-1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons chai spice mix
pinch of salt

1. Chop chocolate and transfer into the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. Add butter to the chocolate and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate melts and butter is combined.
3. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Let mixture cool for 10 minutes.
4. Beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes.
5. Add one egg at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each
6. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, chai spice mix, and a pinch of salt into the mixture and mix until blended.
7. Scoop into cupcake cups and bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

chocolate chai spice cupcake
cooling cupcake

Chai Spice Buttercream Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
4-5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons chai spice mix
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1. Beat butter until creamy, scrape bowl.
2. Add 4 cups of sifted powdered sugar, milk, spice mix, and ginger. Beat until combined.
3. Add more powdered sugar as needed to get piping consistency.

Note: Everyone's personal preferences differ. With frosting, the flavor is up to you. If you are unsure of how much of a chai flavor you want, start light on the spices and add a teaspoon at a time until you get to a flavor you like. Same goes for the sugar. It's a matter of taste and what consistency you want to work with. Experiment until you get at what works for you.

1. Frost the cooled cupcakes.

frosted chocolate chai spice cupcakes
assembled cupcakes


Blogger Nic said...

These really sound delicious. I love that flavor combination. I'm definitely going to have to try fennel in my chai spice mix soon. I usually just use allspice and I think the flavor varition would be a nice change.

5/29/2006 3:14 PM  
Blogger capello said...

Okay, I'm DEFINATELY going to have to figure out a gluten-free rendition of that!

5/29/2006 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Kristi said...

These cupcakes sound delicious!! I can’t wait to try them! :-D But I’ll need some help… Oohh.... Chockylit! =) I’m very happy to report that I got one of your delicious chocolate recipes to work for me, Peanut Butter-Banana Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Glaze and a Caramelized Banana Disk. They were outstanding! I made them for a teen-aged friend of mine for her school-lunch-break b-day party. She was so proud, because they went back to school and told everyone that they had “the best cupcakes ever!” They were so fudgy… Yum! Back to help… How can I make this recipe omitting the banana? I want to use it for this recipe and also the Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes with Fennel Meringue Frosting.

I tried the Vietnamese Coffee Cupcakes on Thursday. They were awesome!! I unfortunately had to play with the recipe. I asked the Vietnamese people that do my nails where I can get some Vietnamese coffee. They said I had to drive to Cleveland, an hour and 15 minute trip. But one of the new people ran in the back and made me a cup of instant Vietnamese coffee and gave me a pack to take home! So, I ended up using the 3-in-1 instant coffee and folding in espresso. They came out delicious, but fell a little too far after baking. :-( I decided to make a chocolate buttercream filling to cut out some of the denseness of the cupcake. Delicious! Since I’m not too good at whipped cream topping (does anyone get this to hold up for more than an hour or two??), I made a light whipped vanilla buttercream with egg whites. Ok, fine… I bought it from the bakery! hehehe X-) I made the top flat, sprinkled espresso on top, made a star, topped it with a coffee bean and stuck in a coffee stir. They were awesome. I took some back to the Vietnamese people. They loved them!! They can’t believe how much they actually tasted like Vietnamese coffee.

Oh, and I ended up going to Cleveland (Ohio) anyway… I bought a Vietnamese coffee maker-thingy and 1 lb. Vietnamese coffee for $2.29. Gotta love the Asian prices! It was worth it. I got some coffee, noodles and saw some very strange things… X-/ Vietnamese coffee is actually pretty tasty! Soon, I will try this again the right way. =)

Thanks for the awesome recipes… I’m working on trying all your cupcakes.

5/29/2006 6:09 PM  
Anonymous rachel said...

What a fabulous idea! I would never have thought of using a spice mix with chocolate, but it makes perfect sense. Definitely going to give this a go (when I've converted the measurements to British!)

BTW . . . your little paper cake cases . . . look suspiciously like the kind we use here in hospitals to give patients pills . . . is that what they are (and if so, I'm definitely going to try to track some down here, they look so cute!)

5/30/2006 3:58 AM  
Blogger chunnie.poh said...

your cupcakes are gorgeous...
your recipes always inspire me..

5/30/2006 5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I found this site! I had no idea there were so many people out there that love cupcakes as much as I do!!! You make amazing cupcakes and I can't wait to try some of your recipes!

5/30/2006 6:51 AM  
Anonymous payal said...

Hi Chockylit,
I tried making the buttercream frosting and had problems with the consistency. Did you bring the milk and butter to room temperature? It was also very warm in the apartment when I was making this, so I wonder if that had something to do with it. It almost looked curdled(?), not smooth and creamy like your picture.

5/30/2006 8:26 AM  
Blogger Nabeela said...

yummm.....these look good..specially the frosting

5/30/2006 11:37 AM  
Anonymous mollie said...

I'd love to know, besides chocolate, what your Brands of Choice™ are! Meaning, butter (I like Plugra butter, though I only use it in recipes calling for small amounts because I am stingy!) and other dairy (I love Straus for whipping cream, etc.), as well as sugars/flours. It gets expensive, especially when trying to use quality ingredients :)

5/30/2006 8:56 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Hi Payal

Sometimes when you make buttercream the curdled look isn't the end of your buttercream. It may just need to be beaten soft. I have a kitchen aid and use the paddle attachment on slow and it always comes back to life.


5/31/2006 5:42 PM  
Blogger Kim said...


I am pretty sure that the butter should be softened before you start beating the buttercream. 1hr at room temperature seems to work for me.


5/31/2006 5:44 PM  
Blogger chockylit said...

Kim, Those are great suggestions. I find in general that if I add ingredients (especially liquids) too quickly to anything (batters or frostings) it might curdle, but with some continued mixing, things resolved themselves.

5/31/2006 9:53 PM  
Blogger chockylit said...

kristi - that's great that you improvised and went through such efforts to track down vietnemese coffee. I am glad they turned out well...

mollie, i totally know how it is. i love strauss products and plugra, but with the number of cupcakes i make i would go broke! i normally use clover organic. i try to stay organic, but not as expensive as the good stuff. i like king arthur unbleached flour. i am picky for sure about chocolate. that has to be good. i actually like valhrona a lot, both the chocolate and the cocoa. i have been planning on getting farm fresh eggs, but lately i get organic eggs from whole foods.

sometimes when its an extra special occasion i will go all out and get the best of everything... i should do some side by side tests though :)

5/31/2006 10:24 PM  
Anonymous payal said...

Thanks, Kim!
Your suggestions were very much appreciated.

6/01/2006 8:39 AM  
Blogger Garrett said...

This all looks so decadent. My partner and I plan to have a ceremony soon and were thinking of a cupcake display rather than a "wedding cake."
These and the lime and coconut cupcakes sound like they might be just what we are looking for!

6/02/2006 12:25 PM  
Blogger Miss Scarlett said...

Chockylit I may never eat storebought goods again.

I just finished creating a batch of these decadent and delicious cupcakes.

My cousin's Bridal Shower is tomorrow night and I cannot wait for everyone to sample these with a lovely cup of Earl Grey Tea.

The just-ground Chai with Fennel is the crowning touch. I made a little extra for tomorrow morning - I am going to have some strong black tea boiled in milk with these spices of yours. I almost want to go to bed sooner!

I cannot tell you how incredibly scrumptious these cupcakes are.

The taste is so sophisticated and dramatic.

Unbelievable. You are a culinary genius!!

Thank you for sharing with us.

6/02/2006 11:52 PM  
Anonymous Hatton said...


I've been able to find the nut & party cups, but I am not having a lot of success using them. Every batch of cupcakes I've made in them have completely overflowed the cups by about 15 minutes into the baking. Today, I was very careful to only fill the cups 2/3 full -- which weighed out to 1 and 3/4 oz. of batter. Still had the same problem. Any suggestions?

6/04/2006 1:16 PM  
Blogger Mistress Fate said...

These look awesome! Thanks for posting, I can't wait to try them :)

6/04/2006 7:45 PM  
Blogger mayakins said...

What a great blog! Congratulations! I'm definitely trying your recipes and you should definitely get published too with all your tasteful photos and recipes.

I'm a real cupcake newbie... any tips on getting the cake texture just right? Oh and any tips you have on piping the buttercream icing as well...

6/05/2006 7:47 PM  
Blogger ooishigal said...

Gorgeous recipes, thank you for you great blog!
I've just made my first cupcakes, and i add a link of your blog on my post...
See u soon!


6/06/2006 5:10 AM  
Blogger chockylit said...

Miss Scarlett, I am so glad they worked for you! Yay!

Hatton, I lot can figure into this problem. I doubt its the cups (I have had a similar outcome on occasions with plain cupcake papers, nut & party cups, and even ice cream cones). A couple things to look out for are for one, oven temp. If the oven is at the wrong temperature (in this case it sounds not hot enough) cupcakes can get a little wonky. Test your oven with a thermometer if you haven't already. Otherwise, watch the amount of leavener you are using (don't add extra) and don't over beat in the last step. Good luck!

Mayakins, let's see... Tips for a newbie... Well, firstly, I strongly recommend measuring out everything in advance and making sure that all ingredients come to room temperature. This is a critical step in the process and requires forthought. Just this alone and following a good recipe, should help you get a good cake texture. With frosting, the important thing is consistency (it needs to be thick enough to retain its shape) and for that you end up with something very sweet. To be honest, it also takes practice to get a feel for consistency and get confident in your piping ability.

ooishigal, thank you for adding the link. happy cupcake baking!

6/07/2006 9:44 AM  
Blogger :: amy :: said...

hi Chockylit, i was wondering what kind of flour you use in this recipe? I attempted these cupcakes last night assuming you used plain flour rather than self-raisng, however unfortunately they were a complete failure! They all fell (even without opening the oven door) and were not very cupcake-y at all. I am at a loss to explain what happened. Help!!

6/07/2006 7:13 PM  
Blogger chockylit said...

I use regular old all purpose. I have made these like 5 times with no problems... Any ideas what might have gone wrong? Sure everything was measure out, all steps followed? I haven't had any trouble with this recipe...

6/07/2006 7:17 PM  
Blogger mayakins said...

Thanks Chockylit!

Was wondering if being in a tropical climate and humidity play a part. And another question: what makes a cake crumbly, with a rougher texture versus very very fine cake. And can you run the risk of overmixing? (If there's such a thing...)

Thanks much!

6/08/2006 12:00 AM  
Blogger :: amy :: said...

i definitely followed the instructions very carefully. Maybe my oven wasn't hot enough? i heated it at 180 degrees Celsius (350 F) while i was preparing the batter...hmmm it's a bit of a mystery! Still, even with all the trouble i had, my housemates still loved the flavour of the pseudo-cupcakes. I really want to give these another go, i am determined to get them right! Thanks for your help!

6/08/2006 1:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chockylit! youll never believe this... i went to my doctor and asked why i had NO sex drive, he gave me multiple suggestions, but none worked... a few days later, i baked some of these delicious cupcakes-- problem solved! my husband and I were like jack rabbits... Thanks Chockylit =)

6/08/2006 8:04 PM  
Blogger mayakins said...

Hi Chockylit!

Finally found the time to explore more of your blog this weekend and got the answers to my questions in my previous comment. Thanks and can't wait for your next installment!


6/10/2006 9:41 PM  
Anonymous Ann said...

amy, where are you from? There can be a huge difference in flours just here in the US, and even more differences in other countries -- it could just be a semantics issue (i.e., what we call all-purpose flour might be totally different from what you call plain flour), but the amount of protein a flour has can make or break a cake. I wonder if there's a way you can find out how much protein the flour brand you're using has, and we could compare it to the brands here in the US. Here, at least, they don't usually list the amount of protein on the bag, you have to look for it online or contact the company directly.

Good luck! :)

6/10/2006 11:18 PM  
Blogger Fanny said...

I am currently addicted to chai tea -- drinking litres of it everyday. So this recipe is more than welcomed.

By the way, you're totally excused for 'cheating'. The cupcakes look so moist and deep-flavoured!


6/11/2006 2:06 AM  
Blogger :: amy :: said...

hi Ann, i am in Australia. Generally I find that when a recipe calls for 'all-purpose flour' it generally means i use plain flour. In any case this is what has worked for me in the past. I think i will try adding the spice mixture to my regular chocolate cupcakes and see how that goes :)I had a rant about my failure on www.cupcakefrenzy.blogspot.com
thanks for the idea bout checking level of protein in the flour - i will give it a go.

6/11/2006 11:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i made these. everyone loved them! they are sooooo good!

6/12/2006 6:53 AM  
Anonymous Ann said...

Amy - of course! Duh -- I'm sorry, I got all caught up in the abstract idea of the different flours, and didn't think about the fact that you've probably converted all sorts of recipes (while I've converted none). It comes from having just read the flour chapter in Shirley Corriher's fascinating book Cookwise and wanting to share my knowledge with the entire baking world, and be helpful.

I'll just be over here rolling my eyes at myself. :)

6/12/2006 5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yum! that sounds too good to be true! I think I am in love!

6/15/2006 2:20 AM  
Anonymous Jane said...

These sound so delicious, and I can't wait to try them out! One problem though...I don't know what Valrhona 61% cacao is. Presumably this is chocolate, with Valrhona being the brand name. I have no idea where to buy Valrhona chocolate in Canada, or if it's even available here. So I could substitute with another brand of chocolate...but should it be unsweetened? Semi-sweet? Sweet? Luckily, I have all three versions in my cupboard, so as soon as I can figure out what to use, I can make these!

6/19/2006 12:08 PM  
Blogger chockylit said...

Jane, Valrhona is a brand name of chocolate... made in France. 61% is the total amount of cocoa-derived ingredients by weight. This is bittersweet chocolate...

You can use any brand and whether you use what is called "bittersweet" or "semisweet" is your preference. Semisweet has more sugar so the end product would be sweeter. I recommend a high quality bittersweet chocolate for this recipe.

6/19/2006 12:51 PM  
Blogger Shonna said...

Hello, my name is Shonna and I'm a Chai Addict.......*pause for the obligatory "hi, Shonna"*

Thank you thank you THANK YOU for posting this one - I've been looking for creative chai recipes to use for an afternoon tea coming up - for fellow chai addicts......this will be the crowning glory - thanks so much for sharing your work -

6/22/2006 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Mary Ann said...

I love to cook and I joke that I ruin anything I bake with flour. Soooo because of that I am shy about buying all of the great ingredients because I think I will ruin it all (literally 95% failure rate in baking). So to cushion myself I baked your Chai cupcakes with some cheating. I used a chocolate cake mix and a Chai mix too. And wow! was it good. Sure no where near as good as using the ingredients you have but it was fun and your idea was very inspirational.

Have you ever made anything using Hibiscus flower? It is my latest favorite ingredient. You can buy it in bulk at Whole Foods or any Mexican grocery store. I would love to see what you would do with it.
I used the little cups, and those are adorable!

6/22/2006 9:46 PM  
Anonymous Jackie said...

just found your site and am now addicted! This Chai cupcake sounds great.I might try using the Chai powder drink mixes from Borders bookstore.
you inspire us all!thanx!

6/28/2006 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was very excited to see such an interesting recipe with chai ince I absolutely LOVE it and enjoy using it beyond just the drink. I personally used Domori 75% Sur del Lago and found that it was still a little sweet. However the chai cam through nicely in the cupcake itself. Also a little consistency issue with the cake--some bubbles?! Haven't seen this happen before. Anyway, thanks for the great recipe and I will be tweeking and trying again! From a cupcake loving American living in Italy

7/06/2006 1:58 PM  
Anonymous faizah said...

this looks amazing! really! what a great idea and wonderful combination of yummy choc and the flavorful spices.

i'm going to try it soon.

7/14/2006 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the look of this recipe! I've never done Fennel in my chai, though I've got a mix of the other spices that I have at work. Do you think this would work as well in a vanilla cupcake, instead of a chocolate? I'd love to make these for my friends and one of them is allergic (and HATES the fake stuff).

7/19/2006 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This might be a very dumb question. I was thinking of making this with a basic cream cheese frosting but adding the chai spice mix and ginger to it instead of the standard vanilla. I am a frosting newbie so I don't know, will that just taste gross? Should I not even go there?

8/02/2006 11:17 AM  
Blogger chockylit said...

not dumb at all, that is basically all it takes. one tip.. start light when you add the spices and adjust to taste.

8/02/2006 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you! I'm making the frosting in just a bit. The cupcakes are baking right now. If the batter is any indication, these are going to be delicious.

8/05/2006 4:17 PM  

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