September 21, 2012

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes with Chai Spiced Buttercream

Isn't it amazing how a certain smell can instantly take you back to a specific moment in time?  

When I smelled this cupcake batter, I was instantly taken back to Seattle.  I have only been there once and it was back in 2009.  Jake and I drove up there (from Utah) to see our favorite band perform two, back-to-back, nights.  We had the funnest time EVER!

Something I noticed was everyone we talked to (the locals) had at least two jobs.  Our hotel receptionist also worked as a waitress.  Our shuttle driver at the hotel we stayed at was also the bellhop at the hotel where we had to park our car.  Yes, there is such limited parking space that we had to park our car at another hotel around the block and we had to pay for it to stay there every night, definitely different from the other places I have been.  There were several others we met that also had multiple jobs.  You guys are hard workers!  

I loved the environment and I loved walking around everywhere.  We were really lucky, because it did not rain at all the whole time we were there (other than a few minutes during the drive into town).  We visited the famous Pike Place Market where we had to stop and watch the fishmongers "throw the fish" and I was even talked into eating some fresh, deep fried, halibut and I am NOT a seafood person.  It's amazing what you can be convinced to do while on vacation :)

Of course, I had to check out the world's first Starbucks and swing by Sir La Table where I picked up my very first bottle of Vanilla Bean Paste and a whole bunch of cute cupcake wrappers.  I even made a 10-15 minute trek, uphill, to Trader Joes (Queen Ann).  I had heard so much about that place and my trip wouldn't have been complete if I didn't get to check it out.  We also hit up several other tourist spots and had the time of our lives.
 Not only did these cupcakes give me a walk down memory lane, but I thought they tasted great.  The majority of the flavor is from the Cardamom.  Cardamom has got to be one of the most interesting spices I have EVER come across in my life.  Both the smell and flavor are so unique and I don't know of any other spice you could use as a substitute.  You might love the flavor or you might think it is really strange.  If you pick it up at your local grocery store, the bottle will most likely be over $10.  I was able to find a big bottle of it at World Market for only $4.  
Vanilla Chai Cupcakes
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. buttermilk

Chai Spice Mix
3 tsp. ground cardamom
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. (scant) ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Combine the chai spice mix ingredients.  Reserve half for the cupcakes and half for the frosting; set aside.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line muffin tins with paper liners and lightly spray with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Scrape down the bowl.  Add the vanilla extract and mix well.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and half of the chai spice mix.  In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with dry.  Mix until just combined.  Fill muffin liners 2/3 full.  For regular cupcakes: bake 24-25 minutes, yields around 30-32 cupcakes.  For mini cupcakes (recommended): bake 10-11 minutes, using 1 Tablespoon of batter per cupcake will yield around 100 - 104 mini cupcakes.  Cool completely and frost with Chai Spiced Buttercream.  Store in an air-tight container at room temperature.   

cupcake recipe adapted from: Ina Garten and chai spice mix adapted from: Some More Please

Chai Spiced Buttercream
from: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
pinch of salt
2-3 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 batch chai spice mix
5 c. powdered sugar
milk, only if needed

Beat butter, salt and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Add the chai spice mix and mix until combined.  Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating after each addition.  Add milk, only if needed to reach desired consistency.  Beat for a minute or two or until light and fluffy.  

Jenn's Notes: I recommend making the mini cupcakes, because the unique flavor of these might be a little much in a regular size cupcake.  If you don't want 100 mini cupcakes, the recipe can easily be cut in half.  If you have a favorite buttercream recipe, feel free to use that and add the chai spice mix.  The recipe I provided will make enough to pipe a big swirl on each cupcake.  If you want less frosting, make sure to cut the recipe back.  These will stay fresh for several days.     


  1. looks amazing! what a beautiful picture

  2. Sounds GREAT!! Love Chai tea, so these would be perfect!

  3. These look amazing! I love Chai tea! Would love for you to link up to the Pomp Party!

  4. I love chai, and I love cupcakes, what a perfect combo. I need to try this. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  5. Oh man...these cupcakes are calling my name! So perfect for fall! :)

  6. These look amazing! I love chai and cupcakes... what a perfect combination! I'm a new follower and would love it if you checked out my blog at Thanks!

  7. Made these for Christmas and they turned out beautiful. They look exactly like the picture. They're easy to make and they're also delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe. Just a side note; they're very similar to muffins. I'd more like to have these in the morning without frosting. Also, I didn't care for the frosting as much as I thought I would. I used 3 tsps vanilla and could taste the alcohol and also the butter. Anyway, lovely looking and tasting little cupcakes!

  8. If I were to use this for a 4 layer spice cake, would I need to double the frosting recipe do you think? Thanks for any feedback!