Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

July 15, 2010

When I first heard someone say “chai tea” I sort of cocked my eyebrow and thought to my self; “wait, what?”. Suddenly this phenomena of chai burst out of nowhere and at first I thought it was pretty funny. Technically ‘chai tea’ is a misnomer. In Hindi and a lot of other languages the word chai means tea. It’s not a type of tea, it’s the word for tea. So when someone says “chai tea” I hear “tea tea”. It’s kinda like when someone says “ATM machine” hehe

Then, I discovered the chai latte. And I fell in love. My favourite cafe serves these wonderful vanilla chai lattes sprinkled with cinnamon. I love the flavours immensely.

They remind me a lot of Indian desserts with cardamom and cinnamon, things my Mother makes. So I decided to try and replicate those flavours purely by taste. I have no idea how to make a chai latte, but I do recognise those spices. Today I experimented with a recipe I wrote up last night and amazingly it worked. The batter was incredible and the aroma when they came out of the oven! Amazing. I will share the recipe because it’s something that should be shared in my opinion. I think lovers of that “chai” flavour will love these.

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

(Makes 12)


100g butter

1 cup caster sugar

½ tsp vanilla bean paste

2 eggs

½ quantity chai spice mix (recipe follows)

1 ¼ cups plain flour, sifted

½ cup buttermilk

½ tsp bicarb soda

½ tsp apple cider vinegar (white vinegar is fine)

Chai Spice Mix

1 ½ tsp ground cardamom

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Mix spices together in a small bowl.

Vanilla Chai Buttercream

125g butter

½ tsp vanilla bean paste

3 cups icing sugar, sifted

½ quantity chai spice mix

1-2 tbs cold milk

Preheat the oven to 160C

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and beat in one egg at a time. Stir in half the quantity of chai spice mix. Fold in the flour and buttermilk alternately and stir until combined, don’t overmix. Mix together the bicarb soda and vinegar and mix into the batter.

Spoon into prepared cupcake cases and bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter until it is creamy and very pale in colour. Stir in the vanilla and the rest of the chai spice mix. Slowly beat in the icing sugar about ½ cup at a time. If the buttercream is too thick add 1-2 tbs of cold milk until the desired consistency is reached.

Pipe onto cooled cupcakes, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and serve!

Banana Smoothie Muffins

December 7, 2008

banana-muffins3

After baking the Pear and Banana Loaf the other night I was still left with a very ripe banana. I decided to make “Banana Smoothie Muffins” for my brother; recipe by yours truly. So what makes a smoothie muffin? Besides mashed banana they also have strawberry yoghurt and honey. The end result is a very moist and fluffy muffin that actually tastes like a smoothie! The yoghurt makes it a heavier muffin than most; so don’t worry too much that they don’t rise a great deal.

For this recipe you can substitute any flavour yoghurt you like. I also used an organic honey from a friend’s farm which made it taste just that little bit extra. Try different fruits too; experiment and create all different kinds of “smoothie” flavours. I just put in whatever I happened to have at home.
These muffins are great to have in packed lunches, and especially for kids. They taste great warm or cold.

Banana Smoothie Muffins
Makes about 28 cupcake sized muffins

1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup yoghurt (I used strawberry)
1 egg
1 tbs honey
2/3 cup oil
1 large mashed banana

Preheat the oven to 180C

Sift the flour and combine in a bowl with the sugar.
In a seperate bowl combine the yoghurt, egg, honey and oil. Fold into the flour mixture and gently stir until mixed well. Stir in the mashed banana.

Spoon into a prepared muffin pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

banana-muffins

Pear and Banana Loaf

December 5, 2008

loaf2

About a week ago I posed the question of what to do with a bunch of pears. Last night I looked around the kitchen and saw that I still had those pears and also some really ripe bananas. I decided to bake a pear and banana loaf. It’s really easy to put together… and the result is moist and fruity with a hint of cinnamon.

My little brother is four years old and my favourite critic. He said, “It melts in my mouth” and that he “loves the crust the best”. Now that is the best compliment.

This loaf is just perfect with butter for a Saturday morning breakfast. Or if you really want to impress some guests this doesn’t take long to put together. Just don’t expect it to last long!

This recipe uses oil rather than butter. You can use any oil, I recommend extra virgin if you have it. Oil is actually healthier for you than butter. Whilst there are more calories per tablespoon, oil is monounsaturated fat and low in cholesterol which in the grand scheme of things is a lot better for you.

Enjoy! I know I did 🙂

Pear and Banana Loaf

1 1/2 cups self raising flour
2/3 cups brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1 cup chopped ripe bananas
1 cup chopped ripe pears

Preheat the oven to 170C

Sift the flour into bowl and combine with the sugar, cinnamon and soda. Make a well in the center.

In a seperate bowl whisk together the eggs, milk and oil. Fold into the flour mixture and mix until well combined (don’t beat). Gently stir in the fruit.

Pour into a greased and lined loaf tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serve.

Tastes great warm or cold.

loaf3

Raspberry and Coconut Slice

November 29, 2008

raspberry-slice-small1

My friend Emily and I often have movie days and for today I asked her if she wanted me to bake her anything. She requested “Raspberry and Coconut Slice”.
This is an old fashioned favourite and very easy to put together. It consists of a sweet biscuit-like base, a layer of raspberry jam and finished with a sweet coconut topping.

To be perfectly honest, this is a slice that has apparently eluded me for my entire life! I had never had it before today and it was really nice. I am already thinking of some variations; blueberry jam instead of raspberry served with whipped cream. Yum.

So here is the recipe for you to try:

Raspberry and Coconut Slice
Makes about 20 pieces

2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup castor sugar
90g unsalted butter
1 egg
1 cup raspberry jam

Topping
2 cups desiccated coconut
1/4 cup castor sugar
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 200C
Combine flour, sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. I actually used my hands for this, as our food processor isn’t quite big enough. Add the egg and combine until the mixture forms a ball.

Line a 3cm deep 18 x 28cm slab pan with baking paper. Press the base mixture into the pan and bake for 10 minutes or until it begins to brown.
Remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 170C

To make the topping; whisk together the coconut, sugar and eggs until well combined.

Spread the jam onto the warm base, microwave for a few seconds to make it easier to spread. Next spoon on the topping and using the back of the spoon gently press making sure it is all even.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden and the base is cooked.

Mini Toblerone Muffins

November 26, 2008

mini-muffins

I love morning teas at work. It’s the best excuse to bake something yummy. For tomorrow I baked some mini toblerone muffins! They are so cute and perfectly bite-sized. Normally I’m not really a fan of muffins… I find them quite dry but these were great! Especially a burst of creamy toblerone chocolate and nougat.

So here’s the recipe for you to try:

Mini Toblerone Muffins
Makes about 36

1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup brown sugar
100g butter, melted, cooled
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, whisked
100g Toblerone, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C

Sift flour, cocoa and baking powder. Stir in sugar. Make a well in the center.
Whisk together the butter, milk and egg. Pour into the flour mixture and gently stir to combine. Fold in the chopped Toblerone.

Fill 3/4 of a mini muffin pan (in mini cases if you wish) and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes and serve straight away.

Free-form Peach Pie

November 23, 2008

Last night when I made my own shortcrust pastry I said I was in the mood for some pie. Today was the perfect weather! A cold, wet and dreary Sunday great for a freshly baked fruit pie.

I decided to bake a free-form peach pie. Free-form means that it doesn’t use a baking tin, rather the edges are folded over to keep the filling in. I think the end result looks simple, yet really tasty and inviting. So here’s how to make your own, subsitiute the peaches for anything you fancy.

Rolling out the pastry

Rolling out the pastry

Roll out the pastry until it is about as big as a dinner plate; making sure it’s all even. If you want a perfect circle you can use a plate to cut one out.

Apricot conserve and brown sugar

Apricot conserve and brown sugar

Melt some apricot jam (or conserve in my case) in the microwave carefully, and spread onto the pastry leaving a border around the edge. Then sprinkle on some brown sugar.

Arranging the peaches

Arranging the peaches

Layer the peaches onto the pastry, I attempted to make it look fancy…

Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

Sprinkle the peaches with more brown sugar and carefully fold the edges of the pastry to partially enclose the filling. Now it’s ready to be baked!

Fresh out of the oven.

Fresh out of the oven.

Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve! The smell is divine; warm stewed peaches, I couldn’t wait to eat it.

It was really tasty!

It was really tasty!

Serve a slice with some double cream and try not to eat the whole pie! I am so incredibly proud of this dessert; it’s the first time I have ever made my own shortcrust pastry and it turned out light and crispy just as I hoped. And here is the recipe!

Free-form Peach Pie
Serves 4

1 quantity of shortcrust pastry
2 tbs apricot jam (or conserve)
2 tbs brown sugar
415g can sliced peaches
Icing sugar to dust
Cream, ice cream, custard etc to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C

Roll out the pastry into a rough circle shape as big as a dinner plate.
Melt the apricot jam in either a saucepan or the microwave. Spread onto the pastry leaving a 2cm border around the edge. Sprinkle with 1tbs of the brown sugar.

Arrange the peaches on the pastry. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and carefully fold the edges of the pastry partially enclosing the filling.

Place the pie on a baking paper lined tray and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Let it cool slightly and serve!

Enjoy!

This cupcake flavour was inspired by my favourite dessert at the Pancake Parlour called the “Alice in Wonderland” which is a pancake with a scoop of ice cream, hot fudge and rainbow sprinkles.

This cupcake version starts with a chocolate mud cake base topped with dark chocolate fudge frosting and rainbow sprinkles. 

Alice in Wonderland Surprise Cupcakes

Alice in Wonderland Surprise Cupcakes

So what’s the surprise part you say? The pancake dessert has a scoop of ice cream, my cupcake has a surprise filling of thick, creamy double cream.
Double Cream Filling

Double Cream Filling

 So I couldn’t post this cupcake without posting a recipe for the chocolate fudge icing! It is really easy to make and you can substitute the dark chocolate for white chocolate.

Chocolate Fudge Icing
Enough for 12 cupcakes

250g (8oz) Good quality, dark chocolate
1/2 cup single cream
70g unsalted butter

Melt the chocolate, cream and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water and stir until smooth.

Wait until  the mixture is completely cooled and beat until it is light and fluffy.
And that’s it!