Thai Iced Tea Cupcakes

This is a batch of cupcakes I've been dying to post: Thai Iced Tea Cupcakes.  I've had the idea for quite a while, but no drive to make them until my girlfriend's birthday came up. She loves iced Thai tea (personally, I'm a Thai iced coffee kind of girl) and I love making treats for people I care about. The search commenced for a confectionery version of this tasty beverage. 

In my search across the vast internet, recipes for this flavor are few and far between.  So. I decided to take a crack at it and crossed my fingers.

The result was this lovely cupcake. I truly hope that you like it as much as we did. 

Thai tea is made from strongly brewed black tea mixed with other spices such as crushed tamarind, star anise, cardamom, etc. Condensed milk or sugar is used to to sweeten things up and topped with heavy cream or some other rich form of milk. The most distinct attribute is the rich amber color.

To ensure the flavor was not obstructed, I went with my go-to white cake recipe and made some modifications. Got to love white cake, it's like working with fresh fallen snow. I used over a cup of brewed thai tea- not the instant stuff either! I randomly selected this one, Hand Brand, while at the global market. Simply follow the directions, but double the amount of tea leaves to make it more potent. Just opening the bag is aromatic!

This cake is super fluffy and moist. The flavor is not overly sweet, it's mild and dreamy.

Thai Iced Tea Cake

As for the frosting, it was a difficult toss up. Option 1: a butter cream flavored with more Thai iced tea, or Option 2: condensed milk icing. I really wanted to incorporate condensed milk as that's one of its distinct features. We tried out both. 

Honestly... you cannot go wrong either way.  My recommendation is to use both. You can drizzle the condensed milk frosting on top and let it drape across the cake, or you can use an apple corer to make a well in the center of the cake. Drop a spoonful in the middle to make a sweet surprise center! Give the condensed milk some time to firm up- it's will stop dripping, I promise. Then, top it off with a swirl of the butter cream for a truly beautiful and delicious creation.

Top with beautiful, peach colored sprinkles to really set out that distinct amber color!

In the end, I never got to share these cupcakes with the birthday girl. Instead, I made them for my beloved college room mate's visit to VA this past weekend. She just signed her offer letter and is graduating from the University of Michigan with a PhD in Chemistry. I am SO PROUD of you Asako! You guys have to understand how HARD she worked. It takes one hell of a person to remain so persistent. You truly are amazing hun. 

It was only fitting to add a cute little flag to the victory!

Squirrel from Sofie Skein.

Thai Iced Tea Cupcakes

2 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cup brewed thai tea, at room temperature (brew with twice the amount of recommended tea and the optional whole star anise)
6 large egg whites (3/4 cup), at room temperature
1 teaspoon star anise extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool

Glaze (optional)
1/4 cup thai tea, at room temperature

Option 1: Buttercream Frosting

3 cups confections sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon star anise extract
2 tablespoons thai tea, at room temperature
a dash of cardamom

Option 2: Condensed Milk Icing (from Martha Stewart)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
7 ounces of sweetened condensed milk
dash of course salt
3/4 cups confectionery sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350. Line 24 cupcake tins. Set rack in middle position.

Pour cooled tea, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.

Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.
Add 1/2 of tea mixture to crumbs and beat at medium-high speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of tea mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.

Fill tins until about 3/4's full. I love using the ice cream scoop for this. Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 17-19 minutes.

Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto wire racks. Let cool completely.

If you want, you can brush on some extra tea with a baster. 

For the icing, 

For the buttercream frosting, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar until well incorporated. Add the extract, spice, and Thai tea.

For the icing, whick together butter, milk, and salt with an electric mixer on medium speed. Whisk in sugar 1/4 cup at a time until combined. Then whisk on high speed until thick and smooth. Use immediately.