Masala Chai Cupcakes, served with a bout of nostalgia…

Let’s take a break from the Italian adventures. I promise not for long. Today, I invite you on a different kind of journey, a trip down memory lane, as I dive deep into the depths of many memories back home. Come, travel with me as I make short stops and immerse in chunks of my past…

♦While the smoldering sun seeped through iron-grilled window panes, the kitchen is ridden with the rattle of pots & pans and infused & bursting with the scent of aromatic spices. It’s 4 pm & amma needs her usual cup of Chai. Dried tea leaves are brewed in hot water & enriched with Ginger, Cardamom, Tulasi, Star Anise & Cloves. The heat leaches out all the goodness in these spices & although subtle they wind up revamping it into royalty.Then comes the milk that our milk-man has delivered fresh in the morning. Boiled again for good measure, strained and served. But for her, Masala Chai is more than just tea-time. It’s a time to immerse in herself, albeit for a few minutes. A time to wash away monotonous responsibilities( although I highly doubt a mother’s heart lends her permission to do that), a time to submerge in calm & forget the challenges of life or at the least keep them aside for a short while. I like to think it’s a rudimentary nectar she takes assistance from to keep herself sane from the obligations & madness that perpetually surround her.

♦Maybe I should share with you my earliest memory of drinking Chai. It was the time when I metamorphosised into a night owl owing to the pressures of student life. Yes, dentistry changed me plenty and that can occupy a whole new blogpost in itself but gulping cups of warm milk-tea was a routine confined only to certain nightmares called internals. I say “drinking” because it was certainly not something I relished. Never an indulgence, just an infaliable drug that I yielded to in order to pull an all nighter.

♦Like my father, I have failed to fantasize tea in this form, unable to dwell in it’s glories & rhapsodize it’s greatness. However, I still label myself a teophile because I happen to admire it in it’s simplest attire. Black or green with a squeeze of lemon or orange. Maybe some mint, seldom a shred of chocolate or ginger! The husband unlike me is enraptured by the kick, power & sweetness of Masala Chai. He is beyond devoted. Those rare days when my parents visited us, mother & son-in-law were able to toss out awkward formalities, all over a warm cup of Masala Chai.

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My tea collection at home

♦I realise I still haven’t made a mention of the 6 foot, 22 year old baby we had with us over weekends while in Bangalore, my youngest brother. He like my mother considers this drink an essential, a staple. I remember nudging him to get to his books whilst tempting with a cup of Chocolate Chai. Worked like a charm, every time.
His passion extends beyond the seclusion of home. Like when he excitedly told us about bustling mornings in Old Hyderabad where he woke up to Chai, Bun & Osmania biscuits. Or when he suggested I try an Iced Chai Spice Latte with condensed milk & whole spices after religiously learning it from a You Tube video.

While I sing songs of nostalgia, I hate to admit that I’m still learning & compelling my tastebuds to render itself to it’s grandeur. Let me clarify, that doesn’t mean I lack appreciation. I do and a special one at that when the Rain Gods pay a visit! Despite the little detests, I am thankful & Masala Chai has invariably become a big part of my life. This recipe is an homage to this warm beverage, an attempt to fall in love with the magic it exudes. Because we all know, if there’s one drink that stands in equal might with Filter Kaapi, it’s this!

My Masala Chai Cupcakes are dedicated to people like me who prefer desserts to pretty much anything else. To people like me who don’t particularly love Chai but are open to similar flavour profiles.
To the ones who’ve already proclaimed their love for Masala Chai because every bite of this rich cupcake is synonymous with a sweet, fragrant sip of warmth. 
And lastly to the brave ones who are willing to experiment & surrender to something new.
Whoever you are and whatever category you find yourself in, I urge you to try these cupcakes, you will not be disappointed.
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As always these cupcakes are egg free, and suffused with freshly ground lavanga (cloves), elaichi (cardamom), Chakra Moggu (Star anise) & freshly grated ginger. They remain the true stars of this show. As the mortar & pestle did their bit, it was almost calming to drink in whiffs of these magical spices and not to forget, redolent of many special times.Tea decoction is added in good measure as well and topped with a generous amount of Chai infused buttercream.
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RECIPE FOR EGGLESS MASALA CHAI CUPCAKES (Makes 6)

INGREDIENTS
MASALA CHAI CUPCAKES:
3/4th  cup All Purpose Flour + 1 tbsp

1/2 cup Granulated sugar
1/2  tsp Baking Soda
3 tbsp oil
1/2 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 cup milk + 1 tsp white vinegar to make buttermilk
2-3 tbsp of Tea Decoction ( I used Tetley tea bags.)
1.5 tsp of Chai Spice- 

2 cloves
4-5 Elaichi/Green Cardamom pods
2-3 small pods of Star Anise

1- tsp of Fresh grated Ginger
1/4 tsp of powdered Ginger

CHAI SPICE BUTTERCREAM:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 1/2 cup of Icing sugar
4 tsp of heavy cream/milk
A pinch of salt
1- 1.5 tsp of Chai Spice

Others:
Crumbled cookies or biscuits

METHOD:
MASALA CHAI CUPCAKES
◊ Make the Chai Spice by grinding Cardamom, Cloves, Star Anise. Add powdered ginger as well.
◊ Preheat oven to 350 F and place cupcake liners in the tray.
◊Make Tea Decoction by boiling 1/4 cup of water and immersing 2 tea bags. Allow it to brew.
I used Tetley bags but tea leaves can be used too. The Cardamom peel can be added to this decoction as it brews.

◊Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl .(All purpose flour, Granulated Sugar, Baking Soda, Chai Spice)
◊Incorporate the wet ingredients-Oil, White vinegar & Grated ginger
◊Make buttermilk by incorporating 1 tsp white vinegar into 1/2 cup milk. Add this to the remaining ingredients. Whisk well to ensure there are no lumps.
◊ Add 2 tbsp of tea decoction and stir it into the batter.
◊ Next, taste! And I consider this the most important step because if the batter needs any extra spice or tea, then it’s important to add it at this point. The batter should taste like Masala chai

◊ Bake for 17-22 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
◊ Cool completely.

CHAI SPICE BUTTERCREAM
◊ Beat softened butter and heavy cream for a minute until creamy.
◊ Add the icing sugar in parts and beat well.
◊ Incorporate the Chai Spice according to taste. I added a teaspoon.

TO ASSEMBLE-
Frost the completely cooled cupcakes with the Chai Spice Buttercream and top with a dollop (or more!).
Crumble Almond Biscotti or any cookie/rusk on top.
NOTE:
1) Don’t restrict yourself to just these ingredients. Cinnamon, Tulasi etc can be added too. Experiment with individual proportions as well.

2)The quantity of chai spice in the cupcakes & the buttercream can be varied depending on your taste buds.
3) If you’re curious about the flower deco – It’s a buttercream blossom made using Wilton tip #104
4) I apologize for this very , very long post!

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#Brush Embroidery & Lace decorated Blondies

“Find something you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”
-Julia Child
Don’t get me wrong, I adore cupcakes but now that I’m experimenting with fondant & cake decor,  I’m also on the lookout for some other shapes to work on. So what do you get? Blondies! My brownie pan comes to the rescue so I could bake little cardamom infused blondie cakes, topped with pastel coloured fondant. Cardamom you ask? Yes! But that’s a story for another post because this one’s all about pretty little boxes of cake adorned with lace & brush embroidery.
Once, I baked the blondies, I cut out 2 x 2 inch fondant squares and pasted them on top of the cakes to serve as a canvas for the buttercream art that transpired. The inspiration comes from 2 places, Wilton of course & the humble Pinterest as well. I do hope you like these cuties and yes, they vanished in no time!
I would love to hear your views on this creation and please do tell me which one you liked most! Continue reading “#Brush Embroidery & Lace decorated Blondies”

#Pastel Blue & Lavender flowers on a White Fondant Cake

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
The final class of my Wilton Course -3 was fast approaching and aside from the uber sized excitement that accompanied, there was also the dilemma as to what I should create. Keep it simple with plain white fondant or go for a fancy coloured one, pastel blues flowers or pastel pinks. After nights of racking my brains, I decided to make pastel blue & lavender roses, mums & carnations with light sap green leaves and pastel beads on the side, all sitting pretty on a 6″ chocolate cake covered with white fondant.
I want to take this opportunity to express how much I admire Wilton Cake Decorating Courses. Although I’ve baked cakes, decorating them was always a challenge. The course begins with what materials to use, how to fill piping bags, how to ice cakes and then the various decorating ideas, starting from buttercream to royal icing & finally fondant & gumpaste. The ideas are plenty no doubt but apart from that, the courses are so well organised & that makes it really easy for anyone who is new to caking. Of course, having a talented teacher like Kendra, who is truly the epitome of patience, helps a lot!

I hope you like this creation of mine! I’m eager to hear what you think about this cake.:)

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And do take a look at my other blogs on art & travel….
The Travel Bug Bit Me
Divya’s Art Room

#Calla Lilies #gumpaste

A vanilla cake adorned by pristine white Calla Lilies & pretty peach blossoms, sitting on a bed of vibrant green leaves. They’re all the results of me hard at work rustling up flower after flower as I think about how excited I am to enter the grand world of gumpaste & fondant. Undoubtedly, watching episode after episode of ‘Cake Boss’ & ‘Fabulous cakes’ worked it’s magic as I wondered how they conjure up whimsical looking cakes that one has to cringe hard before cutting into. But having Wilton classes so close to home & an awesome teacher can just be the stroke of luck I was after.
Not that I can’t tuck into a plain & simple vanilla cake slathered with cream cheese frosting, but I do hope you like my attempt at giving this one a makeover! Continue reading “#Calla Lilies #gumpaste”

#Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting-Eggless

In the words of the famous cartoonist Charles m Schulz, “All you need is love. But, a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt”.
So you know how chocolate makes everything better…well it does for me & my husband! We love it, eat it & never regret it!
These cupcakes are brimming with the goodness of sweet pumpkin & chocolate chips. The chocolate melts into the subtle flavours of the pumpkin and & makes it glorious. Slather them with some glossy & gooey chocolate cream cheese frosting…Needless to say, I was in heaven! So here present a recipe that’ll hopefully steal your hearts too:) Continue reading “#Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting-Eggless”

#Eggless Coconut Raspberry & Pecan Praline Cupcakes

A weekly visit to my favourite baking store or a home decor store or an art store is extremely vital to my mind, body & soul! I don’t necessarily need to empty my pockets or anything….just a walk around the aisles for no rhyme or reason, looking at the prettiness is an R & R for me. This time around, it was at a home decor store & it’s no surprise that I spent a ridiculous amount of time at the baking section.
“Oooooh a ceramic cake-stand in teal…I have to get one of these!.But oh! I just bought one in red…maybe next time! Let me pick up the large cupcake liners in pastel green…what a lovely color!” So I’m walking, I’m walking….”what’s this? A cupcake book!…Hmmm…must be expensive…Nope! 5 $….5$??…Sorry cupcake liners, maybe some other time!” Continue reading “#Eggless Coconut Raspberry & Pecan Praline Cupcakes”

#naked chocolate cake with fresh flowers

“Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people. It does for me.”
-Audrey Hepburn

If Audrey Hepburn can vouch for it, I can & absolutely will. As much as I love a cake that is neat, sleek, polished & well finished, to me, nothing compares to the grace & artistry of a rustic one. The buttercream simply & excessively slathered over a spongy cake that has no qualms about being crude ….that’ s more to my liking! It by no way means the cake is plain & boring”.This cake just doesn’t need the frills & flares to show off it’s beauty! With the addition of some fresh flowers, it looks all the more magical. I hope you enjoy this little tutorial. Continue reading “#naked chocolate cake with fresh flowers”