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
- In a saucepan over medium-high heat, scald the soy milk (heat to just under boiling).
- Take the strings and papers off the tea bags if necessary. Remove the saucepan from the heat and steep the tea for 10 minutes.
- 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.
- Whisk the apple cider vinegar into the milk and let it sit until it is curdled.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
- Pour the soymilk, oil, and vanilla into the bowl and stir until just incorporated.
- Fill cupcake pan with liners, and put about 1/4 c. of batter into each well.
- Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes. Remove and let cool on a wire rack.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.