Chilli chai chocolate c(h)upcakes

In case you’re wondering what on Earth a chupcake is, it’s just a case of me getting a bit over-enthusiastic with the aliteration…  You can stop worrying that it’s a chupa-chups (you know, those lollipops) baked into a cake or something.  My gosh, can you imagine?  How gross!

So now that we’ve clarified that, I’ll get started on my rambling…  I’ve discovered a new challenge series: We Should Cocoa.  It’s all about combining a specified ingredient into something chocolate-y.  Amazing, right?  So this month the challenge is being hosted by Choclette at the Chocolate Log Blog and the special ingredient is “Tea.”  I was discussing this latest discovery with Kat when we came across an Earl Grey chocolate cupcake recipe (which looks amazing by the way – I will definitely be trying it out soon!) but guess what?  It’s a submission to the same challenge, ha ha.  Time for a little re-think…

We’re big fans of the teapigs range (and I mean BIG fans), and amongst their wonderful selection of teas they have a rather amazing chilli chai.  So we took inspiration from it and decided that we could adapt the aforementioned cupcake recipe (because it just looks so good), but use chai tea instead of Earl Grey, throw in some chilli, cinnamon and cloves, and top it off with a plain buttercream icing, a dusting of cinnamon and a sprinkling of chilli flakes.  Uhm, yes please!

We had originally planned on making the icing red (as in chilli pepper red), but I completely forgot to get some red food colouring paste, so we ended up using a combination of liquid red food colouring and the pink colouring paste that I happened to have – hence why they are pink (oops).  They’re pretty though, so whatever!  They also tasted rather awesome (if I do say so myself) – first you get the chocolate, followed by the chai and then you’re left with a subtle chilli after-taste.  So is adapting a recipe that’s being submitted to the same challenge sort of cheating?  Well, perhaps a little.  Am I particularly bothered?  These turned out so yummy and so completely unlike the flavours of Earl Grey, that no actually, I’m not all that bothered about it!

Chilli chai chocolate cupcakes

Makes 16 cupcakes
Adapted from Tart to Heart

I’ll warn you now, these are so moreish – and they also don’t feel particularly heavy, though they sound like they should!  If you don’t have any buttermilk, just use 75ml of normal milk and add ⅓ tbsp lemon juice, mix and allow to stand for about 10 mins.  Then just add it as instructed (though sieve it first in case any lemon pips snuck in).


For the cupcakes:
70g unsalted butter
75ml vegetable oil
7 tbsp dark cocoa powder, sifted
150ml water
4 tbsp chai tea (this was equivalent to 8 Twinings Chai teabags)
175g all-purpose flour
230g caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp hot chilli powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 egg
75ml buttermilk

For the icing:
150g unsalted butter, softened
300g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Red (or pink!) food colouring paste (optional)
Ground cinnamon to decorate
Chilli flakes to decorate


To make the cupcakes:
1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Grease a muffin tin or line with 16 muffin cases.

2.  Finely grind the tea leaves using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle (or crush them using a rolling pin – since we were using tea from teabags, it didn’t matter too much that they weren’t super-finely ground) and sift into a small saucepan (if there are only a few big bits left in the sieve, tip them in).  Add the cubed butter, vegetable oil, water and sifted cocoa powder and heat over medium heat.  Whisk constantly until the mixture is smooth and all the butter has melted.  Set to one side and allow to steep for 10 mins.

3.  Sift the flour, sugar, spices, salt and baking soda into a large bowl and whisk to combine.  Incorporate the buttermilk and egg by gently stirring (do this just before the chocolate and tea mixture has finished steeping).  Add the chocolate mixture and stir with a metal spoon until just combined.

4.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cases and bake for 15-20 mins, rotating the tin 180° after about 8 mins.  Once removed from the oven, allow to cool slightly in the tins for 10 mins before removing to a wire rack to cool fully.

To make the icing:
5.  Cream the softened butter in a large bowl.  Add the sifted icing sugar, vanilla extract and food colouring and mix (be prepared for a minor icing sugar explosion) until a smooth buttercream is formed.

6.  Pipe the icing onto the fully-cooled cupcakes, dust with a little ground cinnamon and sprinkle some chilli flakes over the top (don’t go overboard on the chilli flakes – trust me!).



Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

9 responses to “Chilli chai chocolate c(h)upcakes

  1. I’m glad my recipe inspired you, and your cupcakes sound like such an amazing combination of flavors! It’s so fun to find a group like We Should Cocoa and to see what everyone comes up with 🙂

    • Mel

      Thanks! I can’t wait to try out your Earl Grey ones – they looks SO tasty! I find it fascinating seeing what everybody’s imagination produces based on just one (well, two if you count chocolate) ingredient!

  2. These cupcakes sound great – I’m a huge chilli fan and quite keen on chai too. These sound different enough to the earl grey ones to me and it’s great to get a variety of teas used. Thanks for entering our challenge.

    • Mel

      Thank you for visiting, I’m glad you find them appealing (and that you think they’re different enough from the Earl Grey ones!) I’m so glad to have discovered the We Should Cocoa challenge – I’m intrigued to see what next month’s special ingredient will be…

  3. Wow these look amazing! I love the picture with the shark mug.

  4. Cécile The-Chef^^

    just to say…
    les photos sont super top!!

  5. Pingback: Chilli crème de cacao | Sharky Oven Gloves

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