These delicious & mildly spiced cup cakes are vegan and dairy-free. This recipe was especially created following a customer request. A lovely mama told me she wanted to send a care package to her daughter studying away from home at University.
To really capture the flavour I knew I wanted to infuse the coconut milk before combining it with the other ingredients. So my first task was to develop an aromatic masala chai recipe. As you may well know chai means tea in the Indian sub-continent. Here in the UK, we commonly use the term chai for what is in fact masala chai: the spiced-up version of tea. It’s popularly drunk with lots of milk and sweetened heavily with heaped spoonfuls of sugar. Before I say any more, this isn’t a definitive masala chai recipe! I’ve just tried to capture the key signature flavours that we fondly associate with ‘chai’. I’ve included fresh ginger instead of ground ginger for its delicate yet deep flavour, cinnamon sticks for its warmth and sweetness, green cardamom pods for their distinct flavour, star anise for that licorice note and black peppercorns for that extra bite.
On these darker days here in the northern hemisphere, I find there is something very comforting about this recipe. The aromas of the warm and fragrant spices fill the house, lifting the spirits and comforting the soul. And being a vegan recipe, it contains oil instead of butter, so it also feels like a healthier baked treat to be eating if you’re watching your calorie consumption after the recent festive holidays.
210g organic plain flour, sieved
200g unrefined caster sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
180ml organic coconut milk
120ml sunflower oil
1 ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp instant freeze-dried coffee powder
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp loose leaf Ceylon tea (you can use a teabag if you don’t have loose leaf tea)
1 cinnamon stick
5 green cardamom pods
1 piece of fresh ginger, 2cm cubed – peeled and sliced
5 black peppercorns
Dairy Free Frosting:
1 can of full fat coconut milk
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Makes 15 cup cakes
Preheat the oven to 180degC and line a cup cake tray with paper cases.
In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat the coconut milk with the tea and spices: cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, peppercorns, cloves and ginger. Allow to simmer gently with a lid on the pan. Remove from the heat after 10 minutes and allow to cool to room temperature and then strain to remove all the spices (you will need to strain through a muslin cloth if you have used the loose leaf tea).
In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa powder bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl and mix.
In another bowl, beat together the cooled infused coconut milk, sunflower oil, cider vinegar and vanilla extract. Add the coffee powder to the wet mixture and ensure it dissolves completely.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture. Fold in the ingredients until just combined. Be careful not to over-mix.
Scoop the mixture into the cup cake cases – filling each one to about 2/3 full. Place the tray in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through. When cooked the tops of the cakes will be golden in colour, and a skewer inserted into the cake will come out clean.
When cooked, transfer the tray to a cooling rack and allow the cakes to cool completely before adding the topping.
Before you get cracking with the dairy free frosting, I strongly recommend chilling your can of coconut milk overnight. Why you may ask. This is because we’re only interested in the firm, thick white layer of coconut cream at the top of the can. Refrigeration helps to separate the layers.
So, when you’re ready to whip up your coconut cream – grab your chilled can from the fridge. Once you’ve opened the can, scoop out only the thick cream from the top into a mixing bowl. Avoid scooping out the coconut water – this doesn’t need to be wasted, it can be saved to be used in smoothies or can be drunk as it is. As for the coconut cream, whip this up on a high speed using an electric mixer. Beat the mixture for about 5 minutes until it becomes fluffy and light in texture. And the icing sugar and vanilla extract and lightly beat to combine. This dairy-free frosting can now be piped onto your cooled cup cakes.
I would recommend piping the frosting on just before you are ready to eat. The frosting can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to eat and will store refrigerated for up to a week. If you can wait that long!