Yeah, I don’t know about the title. It seemed like a good idea at 6:30, when I started writing this morning.
What I do know is that one of my regular accomplices and I were speculating about making cardamom cupcakes, and decided to make Chai cupcakes. I am an unrepentant masala chai snob; that is: I make my own from scratch, using CTC leave.
What are CTC leaves, you say? (Actually, you probably don’t. I suspect many people don’t care.)
They are the particular variety of relatively highly-processed tea leaf, commonly used to make masala chai in India–they have an incredibly strong and particularly astringent flavor that works well in the context of a sweetened, spiced, and milk-added hot drink. They look like this:
And they actually do well with boiling, unlike pretty much every other tea.
I feel like I’m getting sidetracked from the cupcakes at hand, so I’ll save the tea lecture for…well, probably some poor, unsuspecting soul that I offer to make chai for.
Adapted from VCTOTW:
1 cup rice milk
2 tablespoons loose black tea (CTC LEAVES!)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup yogurt (if you want them vegan, you should use soy yogurt. Tautology is tautological)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons cinnamon (we like spicy cupcakes)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves (cloves are REALLY strong)
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Preheat the oven…man, I always feel so silly starting every recipe with “Preheat the oven and line the tins.” It seems so obvious I feel like I’m telling people to put on their shoes by putting their feet in the shoe-shaped objects.
Aaaaanyways, heat the rice milk in a small saucepan until almost boiling. I was not paying very careful attention, so the rice milk did boil. Luckily, it actually just boils, unlike soy milk, which turns into a fluffy mass of sticky lacy on your stove.
Take the rice milk off the heat, and dump in the tea. Let it steep for at least ten minutes. Once that’s complete, pour the tea through a strainer into a measuring cup, and top off with more soy milk if it’s under 1 cup (and it will be).
Whisk together the oil, yogurt, sugar, vanilla and tea together. It will spend some time looking like vomit, but whisk through the pain, and you’ll end up with a bowl of greyish-brown soup that looks much less like vomit.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves and pepper into the wet ingredients, and mix until the large lumps disappear. Fill the tins to almost full and bake 20-22 minutes.
The topping recipe in VCTOTW looks good, but I also really love cream cheese frosting, so I unveganed these cupcakes and made a fluffy whipped cream cheese frosting, lightly adapted from the one Mels used on the Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes. I suspect you can use vegan cream cheese frosting, but the whipping cream would be harder to replace.
Deeelicious. The cream cheese make it kind of reminiscent of a spice cake, but I don’t mind that at all. In the future, though, I think I’m going to double the spices, add more pepper and anise, and probably increase the amount of tea.