Welcome Back from AFRICA! Vegan Spiced Chai Latte Cupcakes + Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream

17 May

This is a double welcome back from Africa!

I baked these requested cupcakes for Austin’s little sister (but she’s already 20!) as a sweet homecoming treat when she came back from her study abroad trip to South Africa last week!

You can read all about her adventures in her amazing blog here. You will be completely enthralled by her adventures cage-diving with Great White sharks, almost being blown off a cliff by 80mph+ winds, serving at a day-care, and touching cross-cultural experiences. Did I mention she met Desmond Tutu?! There’s a photo of her sidled right up next to him, shaking his hand and grinning. Adorbs. Miss Emily Elizabeth is one amazing young lady, and I love her. We are so glad to have her back at home with us.

And the second part of the “double welcome back” is my return to this blog! Yep, it’s been about 13 weeks since I posted any deliciousness here. I missed sugar so much when I was in Ghana that the first activity I did when I came back was bake up two batches of treats for the San Diego Food Bloggers Bake Sale, in support of the charity Share Our Strength. Totally cool experience, and I can’t wait for next year!

For readers that have been wondering about what I actually did in Ghana, see this post, or check out the extensive journals I wrote in my blog. In short, it was life-altering, and I have it in mind to return to little Saboba town and serve there again.

On to the the sweetness! Emily is a fan of chai lattes, and who wouldn’t be? I love their complex, spicy, exotic flavor. This version is vegan–no eggs, no milk, no butter, and therefore very dense like a muffin, but still SO delicious. Once you add the Swiss meringue buttercream, however, you can’t count the entire cupcake as vegan, . Too bads, but who’s complaining!? I may be a slightly granola Berkeley girl, but I will never give up butter… Unless my doctor tells me to, of course. Listen to your doctor, friends! Oops sorry, remnants of Saboba are still lingering with me, I guess!

Back on track! I was afraid of Swiss meringue buttercream after my first very soupy attempt, but I decided to tackle it again for the sake of Emmy’s cupcakes, and it turned out to be a success! Lesson learned: don’t let a one-time failure scare you into submission! You are the boss of the kitchen, and maybe it will take just one more try to conquer that difficult recipe. Got it? Got it. :) Now go on and try these scrumptious cupcakes!

Spiced Chai Latte Cupcakes
Makes about 16 cupcakes

2 1/4 c. Soy milk
8 Tea bags, black tea (I used Lipton yellow label, ubiquitous in Ghana ;] )
2 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
2 1/2 c. Flour
4 tbsp. Cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 tbsp. Ground Cinnamon
2 1/2 tsp. Ground Cardamom
1 tsp. Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp. Ground Cloves
1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
2/3 c. Canola Oil
1 1/2 c. Granulated Sugar
1 tbsp. Vanilla

  1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, scald the soy milk (heat to just under boiling).
  2. Take the strings and papers off the tea bags if necessary. Remove the saucepan from the heat and steep the tea for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the tea bags, and re-measure the soy milk, making sure that at least 2 cups remain. If there is less, you can top off to 2 cups with some fresh soy milk.
  4. Whisk the apple cider vinegar into the milk and let it sit until it is curdled.
  5. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  6. Pour the soymilk, oil, and vanilla into the bowl and stir until just incorporated.
  7. Fill cupcake pan with liners, and put about 1/4 c. of batter into each well.
  8. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes. Remove and let cool on a wire rack.

    Heat and whisk your sugar + egg white until it looks like this!

Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream

1 c. Granulated Sugar
4 Large egg whites
1 1/2 c. Unsalted butter at room temperature

1 tbsp. Vanilla
2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

  1. In a double boiler, or a metal pan set in another pan filled with simmering water, cook the sugar and the egg whites together, whisking constantly until all the sugar is dissolved, and the mixture is white and uniform.
  2. Pour into a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until cool, and forms thick, shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. I used a hand-hend Cuisinart 7-speed mixer on speed 5.
  3. Add in the butter, 1 tbsp. at a time, beating after until smooth. If the mixture looks soupy or curdled, continue beating, and it will smooth out!
  4. After all the butter has been added, beat another 6-10 minutes on medium-high. Add in the vanilla and the cinnamon.

Recipe adapted from Love and Olive Oil

All you have to do after that is frost your cupcakes! You can use the regular ole knife method, or fill a piping bag (I just use a large ziploc) and pipe it on. I myself just used a large ziploc bag-in-a-cup method. Easy and delish.

Emily and everyone else in Austin’s family, and our family friends who came to the welcome-back-Emily party just loved them. :) Austin himself said, “AH… MAY… ZING” in a text. That’s how I knew they were good enough to share with y’all. And I hope you really do enjoy them!

Make them for your hubby to say welcome home from work.
Make them for your kids to say welcome home from school.
Make them for anyone you love to say now we’re together, welcome home.

<3 ATP

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15 Responses to “Welcome Back from AFRICA! Vegan Spiced Chai Latte Cupcakes + Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream”

  1. greenturtles02 June 14, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    I should totally make this for my friend’s B-day! She adores chai lattes! She only gets them on special occasions.
    -Kristine

  2. erinmotz May 28, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    I said WOW at least 8 times in this post! There’s so many things to talk about I don’t even know where to start. I actually had to scroll back up and forgot there was a recipe on here, haha!

    • Ann May 28, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

      Haha, “wow” in a good way I hope! :)

  3. Angie@Angie's Recipes May 27, 2012 at 4:17 am #

    That’s a gorgeous cupcake and frosting is just amazingly smooth and lovely!

    • Ann May 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

      Thanks so much, Angie; you’re a sweetie!

  4. Rodzilla (@RodzillaReviews) May 20, 2012 at 5:21 am #

    Came across your site through a few other SD blogs, baking and philanthropy are both cool in my book (though I don’t do so much dabbling in the former) so this seems like a good time and place to start following :D

    • Ann May 28, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

      I really hope you try these! Or at least try your hand at baking something–anything!

  5. Georgia | The Comfort of Cooking May 18, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    What a great celebratory batch of cupcakes these are, Ann! Lovely recipe!

    • Ann May 18, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      Many thanks, Georgia! :D

  6. cdelemos May 18, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    Welcome back Ann! It’s great to see you posting on ATP again. LOVE love love chai tea lattes so I will definitely be making these in the near future! Great idea and the frosting looks delish too. I’m sure everybody at the party was in heaven! :)

    • Ann May 28, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

      Thank you so much, Carlita! :) It’s been a long time, I know!

  7. serenabakessimplyfromscratch May 17, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    I love chai! The cupcakes sound divine! I’m off to read about some of you other adventures. I would love to go to africa, so amazing!

    • Ann May 28, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

      Africa is calling you, and I hope you get to go sometime soon! And once you’re there, “the dust will never leave your feet.” That’s the saying, at least! And I’ve found it to be true. I think about my village every day, and am dreaming about when I can go back!

  8. crunchycreamysweet May 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    Oh my! Sweet goodness! The cupcakes sound amazingly scrumptious- tea and all the spices- wow! The frosting – YUM! Welcome back, Ann! Glad to have you back :)

    • Ann May 17, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

      Thank you so much, Anna, I am so glad you like them! I miss my little town, but it is definitely good to be back. :)

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