Cherry Chai Cupcakes

My latest collaboration with Dona Chai and Brins Jam & Marmalade resulted in these adorable cherry chai cupcakes.  A lightly flavored Dona chai cupcake is crowned with cherry chai buttercream from Brins (formerly named Stagg Jam & Marmalade).  Brins actually used Dona chai in their jam recipe, so this cupcake is a flavor match made in confectionery heaven!

The cherries on top remind me of the alluring ice cream sundaes at old time-y diners, such as the one on my old college campus in Chicago.  Sometimes the only thing that would motivate me to write a paper was a friend dragging me from the bookish danger zone of my dorm room to study at our diner with a sweet treat close at hand.  That cherry on top could make it or break it!

Dona is a Masala Chai tea concentrate.  If you mix equal parts with hot milk, you’ll have a wildly good chai tea latte on your hands.  With vibrant spices like green cardamom and black peppercorn shining through, Dona chai breathes sparkling life into baked goods.  I suggest drinking a chai latte as you munch on your cupcake batch!  Dona chai is brewed in Brooklyn, where the brand also concocts a golden latte concentrate made from turmeric.

While I was cozy at home eating cupcakes this weekend, I was excited to browse the upcoming lineup at New York’s Dessert Goals festival next week.  I’m excited to see their new space in Long Island City!  I won’t leave before grazing on some fluffy shaved ice at the Bonsai Kakigori stand or taking incessant photos of the push-pop cake creations at The Pop Cake Shop.  I think there are a few tickets left for the event, so skedaddle on over to their website as soon as possible!  And if you can’t make it, definitely, DEFINITELY mix up a batch of these gorgeously flavored cupcakes.

Scroll down for the recipe!

For the Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Dona chai concentrate
  • 1 1/4 cups plain flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and beat in the eggs.
  3. Mix in the Dona chai concentrate.
  4. Fold in the flour and buttermilk, alternating between each, and mix until just combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the baking soda and vinegar and then mix into the batter.
  6. Distribute batter in cupcake holders until 3/4 full.  Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cups Cherry Chai Jam from Brins Jam & Marmalade
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  1. Beat the butter in an electric stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Slowly incorporate powdered sugar, sifted.
  3. Add cherry chai jam and vanilla.
  4. Beat until well combined.

Don’t forget the cherry on top!

Peanut Butter Cinnamon Honey Cake

“I only love my bed and my momma, I’m sorry” – Drake

I’ve been thinking along the same lines as Drake lately… this time of the year always has me clinging to the little scraps of hope that get me through the last winter days.  There’s a short list of things (yes, such as my bed and my mom) that have the uncanny ability to anchor me when I’m feeling spread thin.  Well, I’m adding this cake to that list.

I recently collaborated with Peanut Butter Americano, a feel-amazing peanut butter brand that has donated over $14,000 towards economic and community development initiatives in 19 countries.  The brand concept originated when the founder was volunteering with TECHO, a non-profit group, in Uruguay.  The peanut was first cultivated in that area over 3,000 years ago, but the locals still grabbed for the less nutritious (but tasty!) spreads like dulce de leche… Peanut Butter Americano’s founder vowed to change the peanut butter landscape by making a peanut butter that not only had nutritional value, but was also drop-everything-and-grab-a-spoon delicious.   You really haven’t experienced peanut butter until you’ve sampled Peanut Butter Americano!

The cinnamon honey peanut butter that I used in this cake’s frosting was subtly sweet with just the right amount of crunch.  It tastes like a listening to a James Blake song on a Saturday afternoon, with the entire weekend still unfolding before you.  New York weekends tend to be frenzied for me; because I don’t know how long I’ll stay in New York, I feel like I need to soak up everything that it has to offer while I can.  Despite the constant scurrying, it’s good to slow down sometimes and just acknowledge where I am, from the comfort of my apartment, with a big slice of homemade cake staring me down.

This three layer honey cake is covered in cinnamon honey peanut butter frosting and has a peanut butter sauce pattern on top that almost looks like zebra stripes!  A few pieces of Honeycomb cereal add just the right about of texture to offset the fluffy peanut butter buttercream.

Scroll down for the recipe!

For the Honey Cake

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup warm coffee or strong tea
  • 3/4 cup orange juice

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 6 inch round cake pans. Line the bottom with lightly greased parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee, and orange juice.
  3. Using an electric stand mixer, combine the ingredients well to make a thick batter.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans.  Place the cake pans in the oven and bake until the cake springs back when you touch it gently in the center. Bake for about 45 minutes.
  5. Let the cake stand for 15 minutes before removing it from the pan. Remove from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

For the Peanut Butter Americano Frosting:

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Beat the butter in an electric stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar until well incorporated.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients and beat until light and fluffy.

For the Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light Karo syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (or chunky Peanut Butter Americano!)

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except the peanut butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until all ingredients are dissolved.
  2. Let the mixture cool completely.  Add the peanut butter and stir thoroughly.
  3. Keep stirring until smooth.  The end product will have a slightly grainy texture from the peanut butter.
  4. Let cool before topping your cake, otherwise the cake’s buttercream will melt!

Assembly:

When cool, torte the two cakes to create three even layers.  You will have an extra layer left over that you can use to make cake pops.  Alternatively, you can always build the cake one layer higher!  Make sure that it will fit in your fridge first… Distribute the cinnamon honey peanut butter buttercream between the cake layers using a large round piping tip.  I applied frosting to the outside of the cake in thick strokes to create a billowy, fluffy look.  Because the Peanut Butter Americano contains chunks of peanuts, achieving a super smooth look can be frustrating; the solids leave indented trails in the buttercream when you’re smoothing the sides with a bench scraper.  I suggest a loose, fluffy technique instead for this cake!  When complete, drizzle the cooled peanut butter sauce over the top in your desired pattern.  Garnish with Honeycomb cereal.  Enjoy!