A little bit about me to help you get to know me. I am married to a wonderful man who is working very hard on becoming an elementary school teacher, we have two beautiful children, and I am blessed to be able to stay home with them. That said I more often than not feel a bit disconnected from the rest of the world and I'm hoping that this blog will help me meet some other people. I have found a new creative outlet which is baking and decorating cakes and cupcakes which I'd like to share with you! I have volunteered to make cupcakes for the Life Teen program at my church, which is going to be about 100 once a month. I also have been doing my nieces birthday parties. My little niece is turning 4 later this month so I'm planning and decorating a Disney Princess party for her. My brother is a chef but has recently become ill and is no longer able to work. He is supposed to make her castle cake so I was planning on making a second Cinderella's Pumpkin Carriage cake. Unfortunately the budget is being unforgiving and I don't have the money for the new pans that I'd need, or for anything else for that matter. Since my brother is already making a cake I had to let go of my plans for a second cake which was quite crushing for me. My little niece is only interested in her castle cake, so if my brother is unable to make her cake, I'll make the castle.
I've been reading food blogs and getting ideas and was just dying to make something! It had to be something that I already had all the stuff for. One of the cupcakes that I want to make for Life Teen are Chai Tea cupcakes. I found some recipes and they looked really good. But I didn't have all the stuff to make them, and trying to make a complicated cupcake with a teething 7 month old and a 2 year old...well, it just doesn't happen! So I fell back on my favorite cupcake trick which I learned from the book Cupcakes! from the Cake Doctor by Anne Byrn which always starts with a mix. I know there are people out there who just cringed, but they have always tasted quite good once they have been doctored up a bit. The basic trick to making moist yummy cupcakes from a mix is to add a pudding mix to it. I also had a wonderful Chai Tea mix that a wonderful friend gave to me almost a year ago that I have been slowly working on:) So armed with a white cake mix, a vanilla pudding and my Mystic Chai Tea mix I dared on my first adventure of making my own recipe! Now all the recipes I have seen for Chai Tea cupcakes started with tea bags or the liquid mix, so I was on my own as the mix I have is a powder! Well, they turned out FABULOUS! Hubby LOVES them! I even gave one to Joe, the man who came to our house to do oil changes on both our cars and is wonderful, and he really liked them also! He said they were just what he needed, and Chris proclaimed that these cupcakes have even beaten out his mother's spice cake in his book! My little man was also begging for them quite a bit:) (as an update, in less than 48 hours they are all gone...ooops! There is no self control, they are TOO YUMMY!)
One white or yellow box cake mix (or I'm sure you could use your favorite mild flavored recipe)
1/3 cup water
1 cup milk
2 TBS oil
1 vanilla instant pudding mix
9 TBS Mystic Chai Tea mix (my friend works at Sam's club and got it for me there)
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with paper liners
2) Microwave the 1/3 cup water until boiling and add the 9TBS of Chai tea mix, stirring until dissolved (be careful as the water always boils up on me!)
3) Blend the cake mix and all the ingredients together until smooth. This makes a really thick batter!
4) Scoop into cupcake pan until 2/3's full (I use a ice cream scoop another wonderful trick I learned from the Cake Doctor!)
5) Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs on it.
6) Make your favorite Vanilla icing mix adding another 3TBS of the Mystic Chai Tea mix into it for a wonderful Chai frosting that really takes the cake! I didn't have enough shorting or butter or sugar to follow a recipe, so I just added what shorting I had left (maybe 1/4 cup and a large spoonful of (gasp) Country Crock, a tsp or so of Vanilla and added powder sugar until the consistency was right and one scoop of the Mystic Chai. I also added a bit of water to make is spreadable. This recipe didn't require much in the way of frosting, so go easy on it! Also because of the regular sugar in the Chai mix the frosting is a little crunchy, if you want a smooth frosting try dissolving the chai mix into as little boiling water as possible and letting it cool before adding it to the mix (use this instead of the water in your recipe.)
Like I said, these turned out really well! There is a good strong Chai flavor especially in the frosting, a beautiful honey color, and the cupcakes were moist. I made tiny cupcakes and regular size cupcakes. The regular size cupcakes I baked for 20 minutes like the box said and the toothpick came out clean. They ended up with a dip in the middle and a crispy crust. I baked the tiny cupcakes for only 8 minutes and the toothpick came out with just a few crumbs sticking to it. These had a lovely dome or were flat (depending on how full they were) and a soft top. I like them both ways! I plan on making these again in November for the Life Teen group and will try to take pictures then:)
Perhaps in between I'll post pictures of past parties. I warn you I am not a photographer and all the pictures are pretty bad...but I hope to improve on that as well!