Love and Olive Oil

Spiced Chai Latte Cupcakes

Spiced Chai Latte Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Folks, we have a winner. Hands down, no question about it, winner. This little gem will be joining lovely almond and rich chocolate on our wedding cupcake menu.

Holy cow they are delicious.

How they all came about:
Robin likes Chai. A lot. And upon hearing we needed a non-chocolate cupcake recipe for the wedding, suggested we try a chai cupcake. Sounds good, right? We first turned to our fail-safe book (though recently it has failed us), Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Indeed, there is a Chai cupcake recipe in there. However, it uses yogurt in the base, which, if you read the disaster that was the Pistachio Rosewater Cupcakes last week, you’ll know that the yogurt didn’t fare so well. And I wasn’t going to risk that happening again.

So we began with a basic vanilla cupcake recipe, and went from there.

Chai tea is sure a complicated beast – but after a good bit of research, I understood fairly well that most chai teas are comprised of a few key spices: cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ginger. Some used nutmeg as well, so we decided to toss some of that in the mix.

For the tea portion, we simply steeped some black tea, using the soymilk instead of water. This infused a rich tea flavor to the cupcake without needing any extra liquid – the soymilk was already in there.

The frosting was a challenge, but to me, no cup of chai is complete without a giant dollop of whipped cream. Short of frosting these with whipped cream, I wanted a frosting more silky and smooth than our standard buttercream. We decided to try, for the first time ever, a Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

Success. The frosting was to die for. The best frosting I have EVER made. Much less sweet than American Buttercream, but so much richer and with an incredible depth of flavor that almost makes you think there is more in it besides egg whites, sugar, and butter. It made me extremely nervous, making it, though. The frosting feels very fragile, like it can barely support it’s own weight, and at the slightest hint of too much heat or even if you sneezed near it, it’d melt into oblivion. Has anyone worked with Swiss Buttercream before? It is so perfect in every way and I don’t want to abandon it, but I don’t want it to become a wedding-day disaster either.

Spiced Chai Latte Cupcakes with Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Makes 12 cupcakes. Adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Frosting recipe adapted from Tartlette.

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1 cup soy milk
4 black tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose leaf black tea
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For frosting:
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 350ËšF.

Heat soymilk in a small saucepan or microwave until almost boiling. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Allow to steep for 10 minutes, then remove teabags, squeezing out as much soymilk as possible. Re-measure, and add more soymilk to make exactly 1 cup. Whisk in cider vinegar, and side aside until curdled.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Pour in soy milk mixture, along with oil, sugar, and vanilla, and stir just until no large lumps remain.

Fill cupcake liners with 1/4 cup of batter (liners should be 2/3 full), and bake for 20-22 minutes or until puffed and golden. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For buttercream: put the sugar and eggwhites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick and shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until is is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. Add the vanilla and cinnamon and whip for another 30 seconds until incorporated. Spread or pipe on cooled cupcakes.

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  1. Hi, these cupcakes were soft and tasted lovely.  Added readymade tea spice mix rather than the individual spices.  The mix was quite runny is that correct?  Also,  the cakes did stick to the liners.  How can I avoid that?

  2. A new favorite for our family! I belong to a cake club and made this as a bundt cake, no one could tell it was vegan. I tripled the recipe, used unsweetened cashew milk instead of soy milk, and, because we love the strong taste a spices, used chai tea bags ( Stash brand makes chai tea bags with black tea) in addition to using the spices given in the recipe. Baked it at the recommended 350F but for 40-45 minutes. Instead of frosting, I made a mixture of powder sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg to dust the cake with; was perfect! I plan to do some experimenting with this recipe, using different tea ( perhaps an herbal fruit blend, honey lemon, or floral blend), substituting some of the flour with almond or coconut flour, and replace some of the sugar with coconut sugar, Stevia or Splenda to reduce the carbs a bit. Since it worked well using the cashew milk, I think using unsweetened almond milk can also be used.

  3. Really amazing delicious cupcake!! Was so easy to make i substituted soy milk with regular milk, and the canola oil for vegetable oil, came out fabulous. I didn’t really like the frosting, too buttery and didn’t hold the shape well. When i make these again I think I will do a basic whipped cream on the top with cinnamon! thanks so much!

  4. I just finished making these for valentine’s day. My partner loves chai, so I’ve been searching for a good chai cupcake recipe. I’m incredibly impressed at how delicious these are.

    I ate one cupcake before making the frosting and thought that they were pretty good, but once I topped them with the cinnamon swiss meringue… these are the BEST cupcakes I’ve ever made. Thanks so much for this recipe!

    I did grate some fresh nutmeg on top of them for a little bit of a kick and for a great aesthetic… it was wonderful.

  5. I’m trying this tonight! :) Looks delicious and the icing looks amazing!

  6. I am very excited to try this out…. And to answer your question about the swiss meringue I made cupcakes this summer for my brothers wedding using this icing, I piped them the day before, stored in the fridge overnight, and took out a few hours before serving. They were a huge hit, and the swiss meringue. Held up beautifully, they even tolerated fondant flowers on them.

  7. I must try these cupcakes! Can I substitute 2% milk for the soy milk?

  8. Tried these out — I’m not normally an icing girl, but I really liked this one. I think it might have been a *little* buttery, but it was really frothy and light and good. I doubled all of the measurements here and made exactly 24 cupcakes. Took them to my class, and they were gone in less than five minutes. Everyone was raving. Thanks!

  9. I tried these!!! The cake is quite delicious and even better when warmed up.. but the frosting could use improvements. I usually ended up scraping it off and just eating the cake. And I’m an icing girl! It was a tad bland and just tasted like pure butter. Try a different buttercream if you make these!

  10. Will this be enough for a birthday cake?

  11. We made these tonight; we LOVED them!

  12. My friend and I made these chai cupcakes over the weekend and they were so good! They had all the familiar flavors of a traditional spice cake, but with the incredible addition of black tea! I was surprised (in a good way) how much the black tea flavor came out. Yum!

  13. I just made these and these cupcakes are the best I’ve ever had, they are so flavorful and rich. My icing turned out a little runny, but still so delicious. I wasn’t using a stand mixer, which was my problem with the icing. I will be making these again.

  14. I just made these cupcakes and cakes – Fantastic!!! Delicious!!!
    First I made an 8″ cake using the above recipe for 12 cupcakes and it turned out awesome! Its very similar to the Virtuous Vanilla Cake by Fran Costigan. This one is just as tasty and less expensive to make.

    Just out of the oven about 5 minutes now I multiplied this cake 5x for a 14″ round again it came out awesome!!! The cake is about 2 inches in height. Next time I may increase the recipe to about 6 or 7 x for a slightly higher caKE. I just wanted to let others know that this recipe can be used for cakes. I have a new recipe base for vegan cakes. Yum!

  15. I forgot to mention that my oil was a Smart Balance omega oil mixture – perhaps that helped with the stickyness too? My batter looked like any other cupcake batter I have made.

  16. I made these for my son’s third birthday party. They were a hit with the grown ups and my 10 year old nephew. I have had 2 requests for the recipe- I directed them to this page. (We fed the toddlers chocolate, although I’m sure they would have like these too!)

    Mine did not stick to the liners. I used vanilla soy milk. Not sure if that made much of a difference. These tasted and had texture of ‘normal’ cupcakes too. I made them the day before and let them sit out, which did not effect the texture or dry them out. They were all eaten up the day of the party, so I have no idea how they keep longer than over night.
    Thanks for posting this recipe! -Judy

  17. I am a little disappointed with the results of these cupcakes. I had the same problem as CK – the cupcakes stuck to the liners – I was going to take them to my youth group, but I decided against it b/c they’re so hard to eat. :( On the bright side, they do taste good they just aren’t professional enough.

  18. I have always been afraid of baking with soy milk, but I just made these and they are delicious! I had to use 2 tsp of vinegar to get my milk to curdle. I also baked at 325 for 20 minutes instead of 350 which gave me light and fluffy, evenly baked cupcakes. I will definitely make these again!

  19. Really wanted to love these, but followed mixture exactly and soy milk didn’t curdle with the vinegar and the cupcakes stuck to the cupcake cases.

  20. I have always been very sceptical of vegan baking due to some very bad tasting experiences but all your cupcakes look divine! I will be trying some of them out at the weekend for sure!

  21. I made these cupcakes tonight. While the cupcake itself turned out beautifully, I can’t say the same about my meringue buttercream. Does it usually take some time to get the hang of this? I followed all of the directions that you laid out, and everything looked as it was progressing just fine until I stopped my KitchenAid & prepared to put the frosting onto the cupcakes. At that point, it became runny and appeared to almost be individually separating. Do you have any idea why it would be doing this? I want to keep working on this frosting, as it sounds divine; and even tonight, when it failed, it still tasted phenomenal.
    Thank you for this lovely recipe. I adore the cupcakes; I’ll just have to do a bit of tweaking with the frosting. :)

  22. I just made these and they were awesome! Just like a chai latte. For some reason, though, my frosting came out a yellow/cream color instead of your bright white. Do you have any idea why this would be? Thanks!

  23. Hello! I do not drink black tea, is there any herbal tea you could use to substitute the black tea for?

  24. Made these as mini-cupcakes over the weekend and they were absolutely fabulous! Great recipe. Perfect for the fall.

  25. i wish i’d seen your modified post before making the chai cupcakes off the ppk site (with yogurt). all reviews there were positive except one. unfortunately my cupcakes were EXACTLY like that one negative review – rubbery and sad.

    found your site while googling for a frosting and i love the swiss buttercream you used! sadly, on the whole, the cupcakes were beyond saving. with buttercream or not.

    perhaps it might be like isa suggested on ppk, the temperature of my oven, since mine is in celsius instead of farenheit :/ ahhh this makes one sad baker!

  26. You really should try the chai cupcake recipe from “vegan cupcakes…” – I just made it and it was absolutely delicious – I topped it with cream cheese icing and the combination was heavenly! Do not fear the yogurt!

  27. Hi. Can I substitute whole milk and fresh ginger?

    Thanks! Plz email me.

  28. Thank you for a lovely cupcake recipe! The flavours are to die for. This is definitely my favourite cupcake at the moment.

    Check out my rendition of it over on my blog ->

  29. Hey! Was really exited when I found this recipe! I’m insanely in love with Chai tea and all it’s derivatives. However, when I made the cupcakes I found that the batter was thick and sticky. I cooked them anyway, but the resulting cupcakes where pretty flavorless. I thought it might be better with the icing. However, the resulting mix was more butter than anything.
    Perhaps I’d done something wrong? I’m not sure, but I can’t say i wasn’t disseminated by the results.

  30. That looks amazing! I often find that buttercream is too sweet so I like the sound of that frosting! I also am a big fan of chai so Im pretty much in heaven right now.I’m bookmarking this!

  31. Holy cow is right! These look amazing, I can’t wait to give them a whirl :)

  32. Oh my God, I am dying. Please send one of these over right now. :)

  33. MsC – Thanks for the suggestion! Heat stable is definitely a good thing… though cooking sugar is not my strong suit. I’ll definitely give that recipe a go next time. Thank you!

  34. *drool* I love a Chai Latte – I am definitely going to try these out!

  35. Rather than the IMBC, try making Mousseline Buttercream. Same thing, but it is MUCH more heat stable. I have made both but I definitely prefer the Mousseline over the IMBC. You can read up more about it on the net, but here is a link to a recipe for it and the method..

  36. Ooh lala!!! I love! I have never had a spiced chai latte. It’s time to get my virgin lips to it! :D

    And…referring to your header, wouldn’t you think it just appropriate for babies to be one of those good things made in the kitchen?

    Oops! Turn off, turn on here!?

  37. These sound amazing. I hope your wedding works out just as well!

  38. Hi Robin! The frosting for sure could be adapted, just make a lot more of it. :) For the cake – I’m not sure how this cupcake recipe would fare as a cake. I’d find a nice vanilla or spice cake recipe you know works well in cake form, and then just add the tea and spices to that. At least then you’ll know how it behaves. Good luck, if you do try it, let me know how it turns out.

  39. That white icing is brilliant! Do you think I could modify this to make a cake?

  40. oh i love the drinks-so i know i’m going to adore these cupcakes. that frosting looks perfect :)

  41. Oh, those sound divine! I’m so going to have to try those sometime.

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