I was introduced to chai lattes back in 1999. I was teaching ballroom dancing and our studio manager (who I'm convinced was bi-polar) would bring them to the instructors every so often on days that she felt like being nice to us...they were rare treats. :-)
"Chai is the Hindi word for a tea made with milk and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and pepper" (Betty Crocker website). Since I don't drink coffee, chai lattes are my drink of choice when going to coffee shops. They are creamy and spicy and are good either piping hot or cold. Perfect for a drink that may sit on the desk while the world whirls around and the drink is forgotten until things simmer down.
These cupcakes were found when I realized I had some extra cake mixes around and wanted to doctor them up a bit to use them up. Those that know me well know that I don't normally like to use store-bought mixes, but prefer to make everything from scratch. BUT, if I have a mix in the house, I will doctor it up to use them. I searched the Betty Crocker website and when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it.
The cupcakes were very easy to mix up. The batter was thinner than a normal cake batter, to the point that I double checked the amount of water I used twice. It was so thin in fact that I put it into a piping bag to control the flow when I was filling the mini-cupcake pan. They baked up beautifully though and smelled wonderful!
I moved onto the frosting. I had a batch of buttercream leftover from when I made the sheet cake, so all I had to do was add the white chocolate. Easy, right?! Well, it is if white chocolate doesn't hate you...like it seems to hate me. For some reason, whenever I try to melt white chocolate it seizes up on me. So frustrating! Luckily, I had enough to try again and the second time really took my time and was much more diligent in my stirring. I finally got the chocolate melted and added so that I could frost the cupcakes.
I piped the frosting onto the cupcakes, sprinkled with cinnamon and then took my first bite....mmmmmm, these are like a fall day in heaven! The cakes are spicy and the frosting balances it with a sweetness that works so well together. I quickly gobbled up two or three (ok, I lost count!) minis and had to stop myself before eating more! I brought them to work two days later (yeah, I debated whether or not to keep them all for myself) and got rave reviews from my co-workers (even though they fussed about always bringing in sweets).
These cupcakes were a hit...a keeper for those times when you have cake mix around and need a quick, yet fancy-feeling dessert during the fall (ok, anytime, but they really taste so fall-like). Here's a glamour shot:
Chai Latte Cupcakes
From Betty Crocker
1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist French vanilla cake mix
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 package (1.1 oz) instant chai tea latte mix (or 3 tablespoons from larger container) (I used Oh My! Chai from Tastefully Simple)
1. Heat oven to 350°F for shiny metal pans (or 325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.
2. In large bowl, beat cake ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups (approx. 2/3 full).
3. Bake 18 to 23 minutes (10 to 12 minutes for minis) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
4. Spread or pipe frosting mixture on cupcakes. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Store loosely covered at room temperature.
Makes 24 regular-sized cupcakes
White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1 bag of white chocolate chips
1 cup solid white vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1 teaspoon flavoring (I used Wilton Clear Vanilla...you can use regular vanilla, just remember it'll make it off-white in color)
2 tablespoons water
1 lb. pure cane confectioners' sugar (approx. 4 cups)
1 tablespoon Wilton Meringue Powder (You can find this easily at Michael's craft stores)
Melt the white chips in a microwave safe bowl in 15 second increments. Remember to stir the chips between each heating, you likely will need to heat it slightly less than you think (keep stirring!). Once melted completely, let cool for about 5 minutes.
In a separate bowl, cream shortening, flavoring and water. Add dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until all ingredients have been thoroughly mixed together. Blend an additional minute or so, until creamy.
Add melted chocolate to the buttercream, blend completely, use immediately.
Enjoy with Love,