Chai Tea Cupcakes

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I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but I do love me some good tea, especially a chai latte. So I decided to see if I could alter the spices of the cinnamon cupcakes from my last post to create a masala chai flavor. I’m not sure I really succeeded in evoking “chai tea” with this one, but it was still a tasty spiced coffee cake (tea cake?).

The cake is the cinnamon swirl sour cream cake used with my maple turkey-bacon cupcakes, but in addition to cinnamon, I added ground cloves, cardamom, ginger, pepper and nutmeg. At the last minute, I realized I forgot to add the tea component of a chai tea, and so I was light on that flavor as I tried to add in some black tea without changing the batter consistency too much. It would be easier to steep black tea in milk, so I will probably need to revise the recipe to replace sour cream with milk or cream.

The streusel on top contains the same spice combination, and the icing is made with black tea-infused whipping cream, powdered sugar, a bit of butter, and the same spices. Without this icing, I think the cupcake would have just tasted like a cinnamon streusel cake. Although I didn’t quite achieve “chai tea” flavors, there was definitely something je ne sais quoi about this cupcake. I’ll post a recipe once I’ve had a chance to tweak and optimize.

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Maple-Bacon Cinnamon Cupcakes

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These cupcakes are inspired by Hollis Wilder from Cupcake Wars. I love her ideas, and love that she brings her culinary experience to the pastry world. The cake is a cinnamon swirl sour cream cake, that is moist and fluffy, and much like a coffee cake. The key to the pop of cinnamon flavor is to fold in a brown sugar-cinnamon mixture, without fully blending. See swirls below.

The frosting is a strawberry cream cheese with maple butter, and the topping is maple-glazed turkey bacon, with maple sugar sprinkled on top. Maple butter and maple sugar are pretty amazing (but pricey)check your local health food store to find those items!

Cinnamon Cupcakes
Makes 16 cupcakes (or 40 minis)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (no need to use cake flour for this one)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 1 T. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (loosely packed)


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a mixer bowl, with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then add the vanilla and one egg at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and sour cream, alternating between the two, beginning and ending with the flour.
  4. Mix the cinnamon and brown sugar together in a small bowl and fold by hand into the batter. Do not fully mix into the batter, it should be swirled in.
  5. Fill regular sized cupcakes, bake for 26-28 minutes or until golden and baked through.
  6. Once cooled, top with cream cheese frosting (mix 1 pound cream cheese, 4 tablespoons maple butter, 1/4 cup strawberry jelly and 1/4 cup fresh strawberries, hulled, and finely diced), turkey bacon (cook as usual until crisp, then lightly coat with maple syrup and continue cooking over low heat until slightly caramelized), and maple sugar.
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Mexican Brownie Cupcakes – Happy Cinco de Mayo

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I discovered spicy Mayan hot chocolate at Coupa Cafe in Palo Alto and have loved that spiced up chocolate flavor ever since. When we moved to San Diego, we found out that Chuao Chocolatier, which supplies their chocolate bonbons and hot chocolates to Coupa Cafe, is based here! I was over the moon—an endless supply of spicy chocolate (and other favorites like Firecracker and Panko). Of course, it’s a pricey supply, so for Cinco de Mayo, I decided to make Mexican brownies from scratch.

I am sure there are a variety of spices that can be added, but here’s a simple way to get the job done:

Take your standard chocolate brownie recipe (a box mix works too) and add about 3/4 tsp. of ground chipotle chili pepper and 1 tsp. of ground cinnamon. I baked these as mini cupcakes, which requires about 18-20 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees, and topped with cinnamon buttercream. Avoid overbaking, since that seems to bake off the spice flavors.

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