I made these vanilla chai cupcakes because I’m a runner.
I know what you’re thinking.
I can rationalize this. Just bear with me for a minute.
I went for a run this morning.
Running made me think of my Virginia running buddy and partner-in-crime, Amanda. Amanda made me think of champagne. Champagne made me think of Aladdin (yes, the Disney movie). Aladdin made me think of pink flamingos. Pink flamingos made me think of Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls made me think of ferris wheels. Ferris wheels made me think of caramel apples. Caramel apples made me think of Jenn & Caleb’s wedding. Their wedding made me think of Marine Corps Officer Candidate School. OCS made me think of vanilla chai lattes (naturally). Vanilla chai lattes made me think of campaigning with the College Republicans. Campaigning made me think of yard gnomes.
Still with me?
Yard gnomes made me think of my childhood neighbor, Gloria. Gloria made me think of popsicles. Popsicles made me think of Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts made me think of Girl Scout cookies. Girl Scout cookies made me think of my college roommate, Emily. Emily made me think of the Gilmore Girls. The Gilmore Girls made me think of mallomars. Mallomars made me think of New York City. NYC made me think of the LOVE statue. The LOVE statue made me think of my summer as an intern in D.C. That summer made me think of Clarendon. And Clarendon made me think of cupcakes.
So I made vanilla chai cupcakes.
You never knew running could be so intellectually demanding, did you?
Vanilla Chai Cupcakes
Active time: 20 minutes (plus decorating time)
Start to finish: 1 hour
Makes about 20 cupcakes
For the cupcakes
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 quantity chai spice mix (recipe to follow)
1 1/4 cups plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup buttermilk or yogurt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Chai spice mix
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the vanilla chai buttercream frosting*
2 sticks (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
For the cupcakes
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place cupcake liners in cupcake pans.
Mix spices together in small bowl.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, 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 (or yogurt) alternately and stir until combined; don’t over mix. Mix together the baking soda and vinegar, and mix into the batter.
Spoon into prepared pans until 3/4 full, and bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
For the frosting
In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy. On low, mix in the vanilla and the rest of the chai spice mix. Carefully beat in the powdered 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 with your favorite frosting tip.
*Note: To decorate cupcakes as pictured above, double the frosting recipe. For a flatter frosting style, the single recipe should be sufficient.