Chocolate Chai Spice Cakes & Turning 24

This past weekend, I had a pretty great time with Joe and friends in St Louis, although I missed my family dearly.

I wasn't planning on making any dessert for my birthday but since Joe was making me an amazing feast and we were having friends over, I figured I should have something sweet for everyone at the end.

I decided to go with a new recipe of chocolate and chai spice cupcakes that I had been wanting to try for a while. I haven't made cupcakes in a long time. I've been more interested in making layered cakes lately, but I had this idea to fill the cupcakes with a thick dark chocolate ganache, and one reason I love cupcakes so much (besides the portion sizes) is that you can fill them, with excellent cake to ganache to frosting ratio, in my opinion!

Joe spent Saturday morning going around to all my favorite bakeries in St Louis and grabbing me cakes from each one, which was very sweet. He also bought me a gorgeous ceramic plate stand that I am absolutely smitten with. And he got me a new cookbook that I'm so very excited about!

On Sunday, he prepared duck for me. The Beijing/Peking roast duck with the crispy skin. He bathed the duck in a bath of honey, soy sauce, and spices, and then dried it out overnight. Traditionally, the duck is eaten in a small pancake filled with green onions and hoisin sauce. Joe and friends made the pancake from scratch and it was heavenly.

We invited our StL friends over and had a feast which ended with my favorite card game, Tichu!

It was a great night, and I felt very loved. It would have been nice to see my old friends and be with my family, but I also loved being with new ones :)

These cupcakes turned out pretty delicious, although everyone else liked it more than I did. I'm definitely overly critical of everything I make though, and everyone thought I was crazy that I didn't think they were that great.

The chocolate ganache filling was the best part, and I attempted a swiss meringue frosting from my new cookbook. The frosting is very buttery and not very sweet... It's the perfect consistency for piping and it did complement the cupcake nicely, although I'm not a fan of butter in general (I know, I'm nuts).

There are two masala chai tea bags in the batter, so you may want to go look for chai tea if possible. I'm addicted to my cups of masala chai in the morning! They added just the right amount of chai flavor that I was looking for.

*Note: Don't be alarmed at how liquidy the batter is, it's fine! Also, the batter makes exactly 1 dozen cupcakes, about 2-3 tablespoons per liner. It make seem like very little but it's actually just right!

Chai Spice Cake
Makes a dozen
Adapted from here

3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
1/8 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup milk
2 masala chai tea bags

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the milk in a saucepan until it simmers. Add the tea bags and turn off heat... let soak for about 10 minutes and let cool.
Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl.
Beat the butter and sugar till fluffy. 
Add in the eggs and applesauce. 
Add in the chai mixture and the dry ingredients alternately till well mixed.

Pour into a cupcake pan with liners and bake for about 14-16 minutes till a cake tester comes out clean.

Chocolate Ganache Filling
Adapted from Laduree

3 1/2 oz dark chocolate
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 2/3 tbs milk
1 1/2 tbs granulated sugar (only if using 70% or higher dark chocolate)
1 1/2 tbs butter

In a saucepan, bring the cream, milk, and sugar to a boil, then pour the whole mix over the chopped chocolate. Add the butter and combine till smooth. Allow to cool to lukewarm.

Swiss Meringue Frosting
Makes about 5 cups
Adapted from Martha Stewart

5 large egg whites1 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugarPinch of salt1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon

To make the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved. The mixture should feel smooth between your fingertips.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.

Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (don’t worry, it will come together!)  Stir in the vanilla extract and mix just until incorporated.  Tint with gel icing color as desired.

Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

Core each cupcake and fill with chocolate ganache.
Top with a small piece of the cake you cored (optional).
Let cool till ganache thickens.
Frost over the top!


  1. Happy Birthday, Amrita! The cupcakes look delicious! I too, do the same thing with my cooking. I'm never quite as happy with my own food as other people are.

  2. Wow Joe went all out--that Peking duck looks ridiculously awesome!! as do your yummy looking cupcakes :) Happy birthday Amrita! I'm glad you were able to celebrate with so much deliciousness and good company!

  3. Aw! What lovely looking cupcakes! I'm glad your birthday weekend was good. Happy birthday!


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