Red Chai Chocolate Cupcakes – with Recipe!

Red Chai Chocolate 1

I love chai, and I really wanted to make a delicious, new spin on chai cupcakes. I’ve also recently gotten into Rooibos (Red) tea. The idea of somehow combining the two was in the back of my mind when I was passing the tea aisle in the store and noticed that Yogi Tea makes a Rooibos Chai – perfect! I decided to use that in my cupcakes. Now to figure out how to incorporate it into the batter! I toyed with a few ideas, including grinding the tea leaves and adding them straight in, but settled on making a tea concentrate – basically a really concentrated cup of tea. If you decide to make these cupcakes yourself, you can do the tea concentrate with any chai you like, or even perhaps use one of those boxed chai mixes (although if you do that, you should probably decrease the sugar and/or honey in the recipe, as those mixes are usually sweetened).

As for the frosting, I was stuck for a while, wanting to do something a little unusual that wouldn’t be too sweet and would balance nicely with the chai. At first I was thinking of doing a cream cheese frosting, but I thought that wasn’t quite exciting enough… I also wanted to incorporate chocolate somehow, and wanted the frosting to have a slight tang to contrast with the sweetness of the honey in the cupcakes. Then it hit me – creme fraiche! I added a tub of creme fraiche to my usual buttercream recipe, and decreased the amount of egg whites, butter and sugar. For the chocolate flavor, I added a small amount of melted milk chocolate chips mixed with unsweetened cocoa. I usually use dark chocolate in my baking, but I went with milk this time because I wanted the chocolate flavor to be really light and subtle.

After I added the creme fraiche, I was mixing it in, waiting for it to become smooth & take on a nice sheen, when – oh horror – it started to clump! Then, rather than getting better, it started to separate and a huge puddle of liquid started to form, splattering me all over. I turned the mixer up to high, and kept mixing, just hoping it would eventually come together again. But no! It just kept getting worse. I was about to give up (and cry a little). Then finally, just a little, I saw the clumps start to smooth out, and the puddle start to dissipate – Yes!! I kept going, and it took a while, but finally it all came together and eventually even looked beautiful. And the frosting and the cupcakes lived happily ever after. The End.

Seriously though… The chocolate creme fraich frosting turned out even better than I was hoping. It’s lightly sweet, lightly chocolatey, with a richness and subtle tang from the creme fraiche. Totally delicious by itself (ahem) and with the chai cupcakes!

Red Chai Chocolate 2
Deliciously moist inside!

Deliciously moist inside!


RED CHAI CUPCAKES
Inspired by the Chai & Honey Cupcakes in Shelly Kaldunski’s Cupcakes

Ingredients:
Tea Concentrate (Remove tea leaves from 5 bags Yogi Tea Rooibos Chai [or your tea of choice] into a small bowl, cover with 1/2 cup boiling water, steep 5 minutes, strain + cool)
1 1/4 cups All-purpose flour
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (I just use a dash & don’t measure)
1/4 cup honey
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup whole milk (room temp)
1 large egg (room temp)

1) Preheat oven to 375F, and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
2) Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl
3) With an electric mixer on low speed, mix together honey, melted butter, milk, and egg in a large bowl until smooth & fully blended.
4) Add flour mixture to wet ingredients, mixing with an electric mixer on medium speed just until fully combined & smooth. (Do not overmix.)
5) Add cooled tea concentrate and mix until just combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed.
6) Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 17 minutes, or until reddish-golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before frosting.

CHOCOLATE CREME FRAICHE FROSTING

Ingredients:
2 large egg whites (room temp)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp, cut into 4 pieces
7.5 oz creme fraiche
3 oz milk chocolate chips, melted + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (combined & slightly cooled)

1) In a heatproof bowl (or the top part of a double boiler) combine egg whites and both sugars. Set over a pan (or bottom of double boiler) of simmering water. Whisk until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. (The mixture should have a slightly thick, syrupy consitency.)
2) Remove sugar mixture from heat and scrape into a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until mixture is white and glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes.
3) Add butter, piece by piece, beating constantly on medium speed until combined.
4) Add creme fraiche, and continue to beat on medium speed until the mixture looks thick, smooth and slightly glossy, about 2 minutes. If the mixture separates & looks lumpy or wet (this happens to me every time), increase speed to high and continue to beat until the mixture has come together and is smooth, thick & slightly glossy (this can take a while, but don’t get discouraged – it will happen).
5) Finally, scrape in the slightly cooled chocolate and mix, on medium speed, until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary (about 1 minute).

Spread the frosting thickly onto the cooled cupcakes with a butter knife or a small spatula. If you like, top with a small piece of bittersweet chocolate.
Published in: on June 17, 2009 at 9:14 pm  Comments (3)  
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Ginger Lemongrass Cupcakes V. 2.0!!

Like the little ginger slice on top?

Like the little ginger slice on top?

Good morning, Cupcakes!

Good morning, Cupcakes!

Naked cupcakes... avert your eyes!!

Naked cupcakes... avert your eyes!!

The second batch of Ginger Lemongrass cupcakes were a  great improvement. Moist and lemongrassy, they were a hit with tasters.  I baked them on a slightly higher temperature and for less time, ensuring they stayed nice and moist. I also added lemongrass paste to the batter as well as the lemongrass-infused milk. The frosting stayed the same, as I think it turned out just right the first time – nice ginger flavor, not too sweet. The cupcakes needed something to decorate them, so I stuck some cute little quartered candied ginger slices on top, which really gave them that extra “something” I was looking for! The little slice of ginger also added a nice taste/texture contrast to the frosting.

I’ll be  making another batch tonight for a friend’s party! I think Ginger Lemongrass is pretty close to being  released as an official flavor. I can’t wait to start working on the next Beta flavor… “Hot Chocolate”!!

Published in: on May 23, 2009 at 10:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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First Batch of Cupcakes – Ginger Lemongrass!!!

Three little cupcakes...

Three little cupcakes...

Delicious cupcake just waiting to be eaten...

Delicious cupcake just waiting to be eaten...

Please welcome the inaugural batch of Ginger Lemongrass cupcakes! These are lightly flavored lemongrass cupcakes with a ginger white chocolate buttercream. Beta Testers (12 of them) agreed that the frosting was spot on, while the cupcake could use a touch more lemongrass and needs to be lighter. Next batch will be baked and reviewed tomorrow!

Published in: on May 20, 2009 at 10:24 pm  Comments (1)  
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