March 2, 2012

vanilla chai cupcakes

It's no secret that chai is my drug of choice. I will take a super-extra-large soy chai latte (extra spicy) any day, any time, all day, all the time...

When I saw a cupcake version of my favorite drink, I think I heard angels singing.

To make these cupcakes, you first make a spice mix of cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Half the spice mix goes in the batter and the other half goes in the icing. It gives the cupcakes so much flavor, and the cardamom really makes it taste like chai. If the price of cardamom scares you, I totally understand. But it will last you a long time! A little bit goes a long way.

 My kitchen was a hot mess trying to get all the spices together. I just needed to share that with you.

I have to be perfectly honest... I'm a bit of a cupcake snob. I hate it when they are over baked, dry, and way too sweet. But these little beauties are perfectly balanced. The cake is moist and the icing is creamy and spicy. It's like a dream.

Enjoy these!

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

Makes 12 Cupcakes

For the cake:
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 quantity chai spice mix (recipe to follow)
1 1/4 cups plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Chai Spice Mix
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the Vanilla Chai Buttercream:
2 stick (1 cup) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 quantity chai spice mix
1-2 tablespoons cold milk, if needed (I didn't)

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place cupcake liners in muffin pan and set aside. Take a small mixing bowl and mix together the cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for a few minutes. Add the vanilla and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add half the quantity of your spice mix (this will be about 2 teaspoons) and stir until well combined. Add in the flour and buttermilk alternately (starting and ending with flour) being sure not to over mix the batter.

In a small bowl, mix together the baking soda and vinegar. It will bubble up and form a paste, then add it to the batter. Stir until just combined, then spoon into prepared cupcake pan until 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

For the buttercream:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until it is creamy. This will take a few minutes! While the mixer is on low, add the vanilla and remaining spice mix (about 2 teaspoons). Carefully add in the powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, until you reach the desired sweetness and texture. If it is is too thick add 1-2 tablespoons of cold milk, but I did not have to do this. Pipe the buttercream onto cooled cupcakes and enjoy!

Recipe from The Novice Chef Blog... and I didn't change a thing!


  1. Yay for a new blog post! These look delicious. So jealous of your new kitchen, new counters and amazing natural light!

  2. These look fantastic! I love the little cinnamon sticks on top; cute for entertaining! I have LOTS of Chai Tea bags, is there anyway I can use them in place of the chai spice mix? If so, how many?

    1. Sarah, thanks! That made me smile. I think the tea bags would work! It will change the flavor a bit, because those bags have black tea in them and this recipe just calls for the spices. But try it and let me know if it works with the tea flavor! Just open up 3-4 bags and put the contents in your food processor (or spice grinder) to grind them up. You want the spices to be all ground up, so you don't have big chunks in your batter. Then measure out the ground spices, it should be about 2 teaspoons in the batter and 2 teaspoons in the icing.


  3. That frosting is calling my name - these look divine.

  4. How did you apply the icing to the top of the cupcakes? It looks too perfect!

    1. I just used a gallon plastic baggie, and snipped the end off with scissors! No fancy tips or anything. Start in the middle and just swirl it around.

  5. I have chai spice mix in a can that you just add water to you think it would work if I used 2 tsp in the cakes and another 2tsp in the frosting?

    1. I think that would work! But I would add a little more to get the same flavor, since it's not all spices in those chai mixes. They also have powdered milk, instant tea and sugar in them. Maybe add a tablespoon, then taste the batter and add more if you need to. Then just cut back a few tablespoons of the added sugar. Let me know how it goes!

  6. Is the butter chilled or room temprature?

    1. The butter is room temperature, so it can be easily creamed with the sugar. Thanks for asking for clarification! I will change it in the recipe too :)

  7. I just made these for a party and they are deeeelicious! I'm baking at high altitude so they kind of ran all over the top of the muffin pan, but I put them upside down and cut the extra bits of the tops off with a biscuit cutter. Worked like a charm! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  8. Hi Jenna!
    Now are these absolutly fantastic cupcakes baked and published in SWEDEN on my blog ;-) I did use an another frosting but it was all inspired by this recepie. Because it's halloween soon I decorated the cupcakes with little pumpkins. You can see the cupcakes here:

    Thank's for a nice blog!
    Best regards, Camilla from Sweden :-)

  9. I used Trader Joes Chai Latte Mix and they turned out so amazing! It comes with a scoop (probably 2 Tbls.) and I just used one scoop in each! Thanks for this recipe!

  10. i love that you called yourself a cupcake snob (because i am too!!) on that note, i'm looking forward to trying this recipe later tonight :)

  11. hi can these be frozen for a few days without frosting?

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  13. Wonderful article, Which you have shared here about the vanilla Chai Powder cupcakes. Your article is very interesting and I really enjoyed reading it. I am thankful to you for sharing this article here.

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