Vanilla Chai Cupcakes with Chai & Brown Sugar Frosting

When I was little girl, I was informed (like every other little girl) that I was supposedly made out of sugar and spice and everything nice. Looking back, it seems like people were telling me I was a venti vanilla chai latte in a giant bow and pigtails. Or perhaps that I was the embodiment of the precursors to tooth decay and indigestion, with a flair for philanthropy. Sugar causes cavities, spices upset the system, and really, what’s nicer than philanthropy?

Which brings me to the age old question: at what point do we outgrow our inner candy-coated Spice Girl? Do we ever?

According to Miranda Lambert, eventually the baking ingredients that make up who we are are replaced with gunpowder and lead. I’m not sure I like her theory, but I appreciate the sentiment that we are tough-as-nails and [ought to be] inherently in support of concealed carry laws.

My working theory on this issue is that we should probably just harness our sugar and spice and sift them into cupcake batter.

And ’til you get your gun license (maybe some of you Annie Oakley meets Betty Crocker types already have it), stay armed with an icing gun. Mine came with ninja blades. Talk about a sweet package deal.

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes with Chai & Brown Sugar Frosting

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes with Chai & Brown Sugar Frosting

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes with Chai & Brown Sugar Frosting


    For the chai spice mix:
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • For the cupcakes:
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons vanilla extract (for a very vanilla-y taste!)
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • About 3/4 of the chai spice mix
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (NOT melted)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Remaining chai spice mix
  • 2-3 Tablespoons heavy cream (or more for desired consistency)
  • Cinnamon and crystal sprinkles to top


    Chai spice mix:
  1. Measure all ingredients into a small bowl, stir and set aside.
  2. Cupcakes:
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and add liners to cupcake pan.
  4. Stir together flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside.
  5. Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  6. Keep mixer on and add eggs and vanilla, beat until fully incorporated.
  7. Add half the flour mixture and mix on low, then repeat with the remaining half.
  8. Add about 3/4 of the chai spice mix and blend until incorporated.
  9. Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full.
  10. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
  11. Frosting:
  12. Beat butter on medium speed in an electric mixer for about one minute.
  13. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating well between each
  14. Add brown sugar and mix until incorporated
  15. Add remainder of chai spice mix and vanilla and beat
  16. Add 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream and beat. Continue adding more, one Tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached (be VERY careful it doesn’t get too liquid-y!)
  17. Spoon buttercream into a piping bag (or piping gun, if you're feeling feisty) and pipe onto cooled cupcakes
  18. Sprinkle cinnamon and crystal sprinkles on top!
  19. Place in large airtight container (make sure it’s deep enough so the icing isn’t ruined) and refrigerate to allow icing to harden.


  1. Lauren says

    Hey Kailley,
    I know this recipe is OLD but I found it awhile back (through StumbleUpon, maybe? or FoodGawker?) and am just trying it today. It is FANTASTIC! It’s based off of one of my favourite yellow cake recipes, so I knew it was going to be good. Just wanted to let you know that you never said when to add the milk, in the instructions. I’m a pretty experienced baker so I got it, just thought I’d let you know so you could fix it for others down the line.
    Thanks for the awesome recipe, girl!

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