Chai Spice Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing and Candied Almonds

23 Aug

I’ve been meaning to make carrot cupcakes for so long, but when I got those chai spices for a gift, it seemed like the time was NOW.

The chai spices are meant to be added to black tea. The mix has black pepper, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon. If no one hands you a bag all mixed up, you could mix them yourself to your own liking. I used 2 TB total, so if I were mixing, I’d use 2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ground cardamom, 1.5 tsp ginger and .5 tsp cloves. I’d probably add a dash of black pepper.

I like my carrot cake without some of the usual things like raisins, pineapple or nuts in the cake itself, so I based my recipe on this one from Paula Deen.

Chai Spice Carrot Cupcakes

2 c flour

2 c sugar

2 tsp baking soda

2 TB chai spices or 2 TB combined total of cinnamon, ground cardamom, ginger and cloves

1 tsp salt

4 eggs

1.5 c vegetable oil

3 c grated carrots

1.5 chopped pecans, optional

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients

Add eggs and oil, and blend with a hand mixer until combined.

Stir in carrots and nuts, if using.

Line cupcake tins with paper liners, then fill almost to the top of the liner. Leave about  .25″, as they will rise when baking, then sink back down as they cool. I can’t remember how many I made! Sorry. At least 12, I can say that.

Bake at 375 for 20 min. Cool completely before icing.

I used the same cream cheese icing I used for my red velvet cupcakes. Instead of vanilla, I added .5 tsp almond extract to go with the candied almonds I was putting on top.

Oh! And I shouldn’t be excited about this, but I had my first big recipe experiment fail! I tried making ginger cream cheese icing with ginger simple syrup, but the ginger flavor was not coming through at all. The icing was getting watery, so I tried adding some ground ginger, but that didn’t help. I could feel a bit of heat on my tongue, but no flavor.

I want to try another time with fresh grated ginger. I was also thinking that the cream cheese flavor may have been overpowering the ginger, so I would try a simple buttercream. But like I said before, I don’t do a ton of improvising when I cook, so I felt kind of adventurous to have tried something that simply did not work. It may not make sense to be glad about it, but it felt like a happy first for me.

Now on to the candied almonds.

I used this recipe and they were so easy. I almost didn’t make them, but they were so good that I know I will make them again. I had a ton left over, but they went fast when I took them to work.

I was glad I read some of the comments or I think I would have taken them off the heat too soon. It starts out like this, just nuts in thick syrup, simmering away.

And you wait and stir until the sugar coating on the almonds gets so dried out it has some white color. Once it’s to that stage, you spread them out on a baking sheet and separate any stuck-together ones.

They pretty much come out of the pot looking like that. Yum. I put some in a sealed plastic bag and pounded on them with a meat pounder. After the cupcakes were iced, I dipped the tops into a bowl of the crushed almonds. I added all those cinnamon-y sugar crystals to the bowl, too.

Adam said they were the best cupcakes he ever had in his life, and not as a figure of speech, but really the best cupcakes ever. So there you go!

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