I wouldn't call myself a tea-drinker. I imagine there's something soothing and cathartic about bouncing that little bag of herbs up and down in a steaming mug of water, but the flavors I've tried have never really done anything for me.
That said, I shamelessly confess to being obsessed with chai tea. I first discovered it when I was a barista at a Barnes and Noble cafe (proudly serving Starbucks beverages since 1993!), and I've loved it ever since. Yes, I like it even more than the sinfully decadent white chocolate mocha.
If you predicted that I used a recipe from Martha's book, you get 30 points and a cookie. I did make it my own, however, by filling it with dulce de leche (which, for the record, was quickly absorbed by the cupcake and left a giant hole in the cupcake...doh!) and topping it with a cinnamon-tinged buttercream frosting. Even though the caramel seeped into the cupcake, the flavor was still there and delicious. The only thing affected was the appearance--I suppose a cone-shaped crater can be a bit off-putting.
This is a great cupcake. I'm feeling generous today--62 points for Martha and her team (but no cookies!).
Chai Cupcakes with Caramel Stuffing and Cinnamon Buttercream
3/4 cup milk
2 bags black tea
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon course salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup dulce de leche
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2-3 tablespoons milk, room temperature
2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
Bring milk to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat; add tea bags, and let steep, covered, 15 minutes. Remove tea bags, squeezing the bags over the pan, and discard. Allow milk to cool completely.
Whisk together both flours, baking powder, salt, pepper and spices.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of tea-infused milk, and beating until just combined after each.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until tops spring back when lightly touched and are pale golden, 10-12 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
To make the frosting, beat the butter with an electric mixer for a few minutes. Add the cinnamon and milk and briefly blend. Add the powdered sugar gradually until the frosting is thick enough to spread easily. If the frosting is too dry, add additional milk until the desired consistency is reached.
To fill the cupcakes, carve out a cone-shaped hole (forget donut holes--I'm marketing cake holes!) and carefully spoon the dulce de leche inside. Apply frosting generously to cupcakes and, after giving the components a few minutes to get to know each other, devour.