Chai Tea Cupcakes

The spiced milk in this cupcake recipe adds an unusal but delicious flavour  

Credit: Gerilee McBride

Spiced milk and ground almonds come together perfectly in this cupcake treat

These unique chai tea-flavoured cupcakes make a nice, light tea-time treat

I created this recipe one evening in an attempt to keep the cold and damp Vancouver weather at bay. I made my chai with black tea but you can omit the tea entirely and just go with the spiced milk by itself.

I also discovered that ground almonds are a delicious replacement for icing sugar in the buttercream icing. This substitution was more happenstance brilliance as I hadn’t realized I was out of icing sugar until mid-recipe and didn’t want to venture out to the store in the rain.

The recipe makes a dozen cupcakes.

Chai Tea Ingredients

  • chai tea
  • 2 cups milk (I used coconut milk for extra oomph)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1.5″ of fresh ginger root (peeled and sliced)
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 2 black tea bags (optional)


  1. Bring all ingredients together in a pot to a boil, reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat, strain the milk and let cool.
  3. Optional: remove the pot from the stove after simmering, add the tea bags (or loose tea), let steep for 10 minutes, then strain and let cool.

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening (I used 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup olive oil) — using olive oil results in a lighter texture but use one that has a subtle flavour or your cupcakes might taste like olives
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used raw granulated sugar but white granulated sugar is just fine too)
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup milk (in this case I substituted the milk for my chai tea mixture)


  1. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream together the shortening and sugar.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition.
  4. Add dry ingredients alternately with the chai milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
  5. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way and bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, testing with a toothpick to determine when done. Let cool on rack.

Honey-Almond Buttercream Icing Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey (I used unpasteurized buckwheat honey)
  • 1 cup ground almonds (add up to 1/4 cup more depending on your taste and texture preference)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (optional)


  1. Cream butter and add the honey, mixing until a smooth paste develops.
  2. Add ground almonds 1/4 cup at a time, tasting between each addition for flavour preference. I added a little more than 1 cup since I wanted more of the almond taste to come through.
  3. Ice cupcakes as soon as they’re cool and enjoy!