Chai Cupcakes with Meringue Frosting
Ciao! It's chai time. (Yes, I only used the "ciao" greeting because it sounds similar to "chai." I'm a weirdo. We know this.)
It has been quite a while since I posted a cupcake recipe on the blog. My apologies.
Today I make it up to you. With these chai cupcakes. With meringue frosting. Because a cupcake full of warm, cozy, rich autumn spices complemented with a light, sweet, torched meringue frosting is all I/you/we/the collective human species need/s right now.
These chai cupcakes put a unique, spicy twist on your classic vanilla cupcakes. Not that there's anything wrong with a classic vanilla cupcake. But sometimes you gotta spice things up. Literally. (You saw that one coming, didn't you?)
Just like any cupcake that should garner any semblance of respect, these chai cupcakes are soft, moist, tender, and fluffy. So show some respect to these meringue-topped chai cupcakes, will you?
But these chai cupcakes don't just stop at soft and moist and tender and fluffy. They're also filled with ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and black pepper. Hence the chai title.
Yes, I said black pepper. That's what goes in chai. So that's what goes in these cupcakes. I didn't make the rules. I just bent them. To create the perfect spiced ratio. One that is heavy on the cinnamon and ginger (mmmmm ginger) and easier on the nutmeg and cloves and allspice and black pepper.
Who knew I'd love black pepper in my cupcakes as much as I love it in my soups and salad dressings (and roasted vegetables and fish and pasta and and and)?
And to balance out all those warm, rich spices, we've got a light, glossy, sweet, marshmallow-like meringue frosting piped atop each chai cupcake.
Another reason I chose a meringue frosting: it's naturally dairy-free. Instead of a rich buttercream frosting full of butter, or a rich cream cheese frosting full of cream cheese (I like to state the obvious), this meringue frosting is full of egg whites and sugar (and a lil vanilla and salt), whipped up to create an airy, delicate frosting.
And then the meringue is torched to make it all toasty and browned and provide even more cozy, comforting, fireplace, autumn feelings.
Although, if you’re feeling lazy, feel free to skip the frosting altogether. Because these chai cupcakes are so flavorful on their own, they honestly don't absolutely require the meringue topping. But obviously, the meringue most certainly does enhance the cupcakes.
Dairy-free. One-bowl cupcake batter. One-bowl frosting. Soft and moist and flavorful and spiced. And sticky and glossy and sweet.
Chai cupcakes with meringue frosting - I always want to say ciao (hello) but never want to say ciao (goodbye). Bringing things full circle here, folks.
Chai Cupcakes with Meringue Frosting
Yield: 12 cupcakes
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 cup oil
¼ cup orange juice
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups packed flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 large egg whites
¾ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the sugar, oil, juice, eggs, and vanilla extract until smooth.
3. Add in dry ingredients and mix everything together until just combined.
4. Using a large cookie scoop, drop batter into cupcake liners, filling each almost to the top. Bang muffin tin against countertop a few times to remove any air bubbles.
5. Bake cupcakes for about 20-24 minutes, until cupcakes spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.
6. Meringue Frosting: Place egg whites, sugar, and salt into bowl of your electric stand mixer (or any heat-safe bowl) and place over a pot of simmering water, creating a double boiler. Whisk mixture constantly for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch (110 F).
7. Transfer bowl to machine fitted with a whisk attachment and add in vanilla extract. Whip mixture, starting on low speed and gradually increasing to highest speed, for about 6-9 minutes, until you have a stiff and glossy meringue.
8. Pipe or spread meringue over the cooled cupcakes. Use a kitchen torch to brown the meringue, being careful not to let cupcake liners catch on fire (if they do, quickly blow flame out). Alternatively, broil the cupcakes for about two minutes, until meringue is golden brown.