Chocolate Chai Spice Cupcake67

Posted by chockylit in Chocolate,Indian-Inspired,Simple Recipe,Spices (Monday May 29, 2006 at 2:47 pm)

chocolate chai spice cupcake

I must admit… I almost felt like I was cheating with this recipe. I used my current favorite chocolate recipe and added a few teaspoons of ground up spices – that was it!

But while the approach was straight forward, the result was great. The spices shown through the flavor of the chocolate just enough to add complexity and interest to the experience. The moist chocolatey goodness of the cake can live on its own, but ultimately, the frosting is what makes it a cupcake and the simple chai spice buttercream was a great addition. Not too overwhelming, but enhancing the flavor all the more. (I added a bit extra minced fresh ginger which was a nice touch.)

Just goes to show you… with a great base recipe and a rummage through the spice rack or pantry, anyone can come up with an interesting and tasty concoction. Days later, my husband is still talking about them and they seemed to be a hit at the art opening I made them for.

Chai Spice Mix

2 teaspoons fennel, whole
2 teaspoons cloves, whole
1 tablespoon cardamom, ground
2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
2 teaspoons ginger, ground

1. With a small food processor, grind up the whole fennel and cloves.
2. Transfer to a small bowl and add remaining spices. Mix to combine.

chai spice mix
chai spice mix

Chocolate Chai Spice Cupcakes
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

200 gram bar of Valrhona 61% cacao
3 sticks butter
2-1/4 cups sugar
8 eggs
1-1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons chai spice mix
pinch of salt

1. Chop chocolate and transfer into the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. Add butter to the chocolate and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate melts and butter is combined.
3. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Let mixture cool for 10 minutes.
4. Beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes.
5. Add one egg at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each
6. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, chai spice mix, and a pinch of salt into the mixture and mix until blended.
7. Scoop into cupcake cups and bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

chocolate chai spice cupcake
cooling cupcake

Chai Spice Buttercream Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
4-5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons chai spice mix
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1. Beat butter until creamy, scrape bowl.
2. Add 4 cups of sifted powdered sugar, milk, spice mix, and ginger. Beat until combined.
3. Add more powdered sugar as needed to get piping consistency.

Note: Everyone’s personal preferences differ. With frosting, the flavor is up to you. If you are unsure of how much of a chai flavor you want, start light on the spices and add a teaspoon at a time until you get to a flavor you like. Same goes for the sugar. It’s a matter of taste and what consistency you want to work with. Experiment until you get at what works for you.

1. Frost the cooled cupcakes.

frosted chocolate chai spice cupcakes
assembled cupcakes

Pistachio Cupcakes with Rose Petal Buttercream31

Posted by chockylit in Advanced Techniques,Herbs & Flowers,Indian-Inspired,Nuts (Saturday May 13, 2006 at 9:35 am)

I made an impromptu decision on a Thursday afternoon to make cupcakes for a party on Friday afternoon. I knew I wanted to make pistachio cupcakes, my homage to Indian sweets. I didn’t have a lot of time or options, so I ran out at lunch to the Ferry Building, conveniently located across the street from work. I managed to find some pistachio cream (at $19.99 for 8 ounces! Ouch!) at the Village Market and rose petal jelly and small, edible rose buds at Boulettes Larder.

I decided on a chiffon style cake this time around. I want to make an important point outright. This is a far trickier method than the creaming method that I use for most of the recipes in the blog. Many things can always go wrong in baking; this is even truer with this style of cake. It shouldn’t stop you from trying, but if there is one thing I learned from the professionals that I took classes with, the key is being able to work with whatever the outcome is.

In this case, I made quite a bit of batter. As such, my oven was packed with cupcakes and they were baking unevenly. Did I risk opening the oven to shift them around? Opening an oven too early in the process can cause a draft and result in fallen cupcakes. Or did I leave them be and deal with some cupcakes being over done? In the end, I waited until about halfway through the baking time, then opened the oven and shifted the cupcakes around. In the end, I would say about 8 of the 36 cupcakes fell. I used the good ones for the party and covered the others with a bit of frosting and saved them for the family.

The pistachio cake was an experiment. I was happy with the outcome. Despite the baking issues I had, the cake was tasty, and in my opinion very pistachio-y. It was light and airy, just like chiffon should be. I went light on the frosting so it wouldn’t overpower the cake. I didn’t get much of a rose flavor from the jelly, but the color was nice and I could definitely smell roses (most likely from the buds). If I had planned ahead, I would have order some rose water or syrup to help liven the frosting some.

Pistachio Cupcakes
36 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

2-3/4 cups cake flour
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup grape seed oil (or vegetable oil)
8 egg yolks (approximately 6 ounces)
1/2 cup water
4 ounces pistachio cream (approximately 1/3 cup)
10 egg whites (approximately 10 ounces)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter

1. Sift flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. In a medium bowl, combine oil, egg yolks, water, and pistachio cream. Stir to combine.
3. On a low setting, start to beat the dry mixture and slowly add the wet. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until pistachio cream is incorporated.
4. Transfer mixture to another bowl. Wash and dry mixer bowl.
5. Whip egg whites with whip attachment on medium-high speed until foamy. With the mixer on medium speed, add cream of tarter and slowly add sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
6. Scoop a cupful of the stiff egg whites into the batter and stir to combine. This should lighten up the batter.
7. Transfer the egg whites to the batter and gently fold until there are no more streaks of egg white.
8. Scoop into cupcake cups and bake at 350 F for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Tip: Cake flour is a must for chiffon. All-purpose won’t give you the same delicate texture.

pistachio cream

Rose Petal Buttercream Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
4-5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup rose petal jelly

1. Beat butter until creamy, scrape bowl.
2. Add 3-4 cups of sifted powdered sugar and jelly, beat until combined.
3. Add more powdered sugar as needed to get to whatever consistency/sweetness you wish to acheive.

rose petal jelly

1. Frost cooled cupcakes lightly with buttercream.
2. For pistachio garnish, grind up pistachios in a small food processor. take up some of the ground nuts into your hand and press the edges of the frosted cupcake into the mixture.
3. Otherwise top with edible rose bud or edible rose petal.

Vietnamese Coffee Cupcakes41

Posted by chockylit in Coffee & Liqueurs,Drink-Inspired,Step-by-Step Photos,Vietnamese-Inspired (Saturday May 6, 2006 at 11:38 pm)

I have been thinking about making a Vietnamese coffee cupcake for a while – really since way back, when I worked on the Thai iced tea cupcake.

When it comes to coffee flavored cakes, what one typically finds are mocha type concoctions (coffee and chocolate) or tiramisu type desserts (sponge or lady fingers doused in coffee). I haven’t found many examples of coffee-flavored cake batter outside of these two options. In lieu of an existing recipe, my approach would be simple – substitute strong brewed coffee for the liquid in a basic cake batter.

And that got me wondering… what cake batter? If you’ve ever taken any baking classes or read any professional baking books, you know that there are basic methods of preparing cakes including the sponge method, creaming method, two-stage method and a bunch of others. My favorite method is the creaming method which is used for many American-style baked goods. You cream the butter and sugar, add eggs, then alternate dry and wet ingredients. The result is a heavy mixture and relatively dense cake. The two stage method involves separating the eggs, following the same basic steps as with the creaming (with the exception that only egg yolks are added), then whipping egg whites to soft peaks and folding in to the batter. The result is something somewhat lighter. The classic sponge method requires heating and mixing the eggs and sugar over a water bath until it is light and fluffy. Then folding in dry ingredients and sometimes melted butter. Which of these (or any of the other) methods will translate to the dense, rich, moist, coffee flavored cake base I was looking for? I decided that the basic creaming method would result in a batter that had the bones to support the rich coffee flavor.

The resulting cake was great – great texture and moistness, but even better, a super intense, coffee flavor – exactly what I was looking for. I made a sweetened condensed milk pudding to fill the cupcakes and decided to top them with lightly sweetened whipped cream. I haven’t tasted the end product (just all the components), so I will need to report on that tomorrow.

VN Coffee Cupcakes
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup strong brewed Vietnamese coffee
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon coffee grounds

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
5. Measure out coffee and milk together.
6. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
7. Add about one third the coffee/milk mixture and beat until combined.
8. Repeat above, alternating flour and coffee and ending with the flour mixture.
9. Fold in the teaspoon of coffee grounds.
10. Scoop into cupcake papers about half to three-quarters full (depending on whether you want flat or domed cupcakes. Note that these cupcakes will shrink slightly when they cool).
11. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Tip: Be careful when adding the coffee/milk mixture to the batter. If you add it too quickly the mixture will look curdled. Add small amounts and beat well to incorporate.

cupcake ready for baking

baked cupcake

Sweetened Condensed Milk Pudding

2 teaspoons gelatin
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

1. Sprinkle the gelatin over a 1/4 cup of water and let sit for 5 minutes.
2. In a small pan over medium heat, heat the sweetened condensed milk until warm.
3. Add the gelatin and stir over heat until the gelatin melts.
4. Transfer mixture to a bowl set over a pan of ice water. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens. It will get very thick and might clump if you stop stirring.

stirring over ice bath

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Whisk cream on high speed until soft peaks form.
2. Add sugar (more or less depending on your taste) and whip until thick.

cupcakes ready for filling

1. Using a small pairing knife, cut off the top of the cupcake in the shape of a cone. Flip the top over and cut off the cone.
2. Fill the cavity with a teaspoon or so of sweetened condensed milk pudding.
3. Replace top.
4. Top with swirls or dollops of lightly sweetened whipped cream.
5. Dust with finely ground coffee.


Making Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnamese coffee is made with special grounds that contain coffee and chicory and using a special filter. It is brewed resting on a glass filled with an inch or so of sweetened condensed milk. The result is strong, rich, creamy, and sweet. I prefer mine iced. The melting ice lightens up the drink a bit.

get your filter ready

add grounds

replace filter

screw on tight for strong coffee

fill with water and wait!