Spicy, creamy, decadent: Try Thai iced tea cupcakes
FARGO — It's not surprising that "National Iced Tea Day" would fall on a Saturday in June (the 10th to be exact). No drink is more associated with hot summer days than iced tea — particularly in the southern part of the United States where sweet tea is nearly a religion.
Up north, we like our tea as well, but we're just as likely to have a lemonade, a Diet Coke or a Bud Light. My favorite iced tea — Thai iced tea — actually has rich and spicy flavors that could just as easily be associated with sweater weather as bikini days. (Think: cardamom, star anise, almond, vanilla and cinnamon.) Topped with heavy cream or sweetened condensed milk, Thai iced tea is not an everyday sipper. It's more a decadent dessert drink you try when you go out for Thai food with your friends.
With that in mind, I decided rather than drink my calories, I'd see if I could translate the spicy, creamy goodness of Thai iced tea into a cupcake. Fortunately, I didn't have to reinvent the wheel — others have attempted the transformation before. I just had to follow their recipe.
I found this really great recipe on a food blog called Bowen Appetit. I followed it pretty closely. Although the first time I made it, I didn't think the tea flavor was strong enough, so I added the suggestion to steep the tea for at least a half-hour to get a richer flavor. The food blogger also suggested making the cupcakes at least a day before you plan to serve them as the tea flavor continues to develop after the cupcakes are baked. I'm including the recipe for the frosting, but — "Hello, my name is lazy Tracy" — I actually preferred a store-bought cream cheese frosting doctored up with a little bit of the tea.
You won't be able to drink these cupcakes on National Iced Tea Day, but it you're looking for a spicy, creamy and slightly decadent dessert these fit the bill. Watch our video to see how we did it.
Thai Iced Tea Cupcakes
Serves: 24 cupcakes
2 cups whole milk 1/4 cup condensed milk 3/4 cup Thai iced tea mix (available on Amazon or Asian grocery stores) 2 3/4 cups cake flour (unsifted) 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 3/4 teaspoon salt 2 sticks butter, room temperature 1 3/4 cups sugar 4 eggs, room temperature 1 tablespoon vanilla
Frosting: 2 cups (4 sticks) butter, room temperature 1 1/2 cups condensed milk 1 2/3 cups powdered sugar, sifted or whisked to remove lumps 2 teaspoons vanilla 2 tablespoons brewed tea
(Or one tub of store-bought cream cheese frosting mixed with 2 tablespoons brewed tea)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (or line with paper liners) 24 cups in muffin pans. Whisk together the milk and 1/4 cup condensed milk in a medium pot. Heat over medium or medium-high heat until bubbles form around the edge. Add the tea mix, remove from heat; cover and let sit 30 minutes. Pour through a sieve, coffee filter or tea screen to strain out the tea. Let the mixture cool to somewhere between room temperature (a bit warmer is okay, too), using the refrigerator or freezer to cool down quickly if necessary. You can work on the next few steps while you're waiting for the milk mixture to cool.
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Using an electric mixer (stand or handheld) on medium speed, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy — approximately 4 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla. Scrape down the beaters and the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low and beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture. As soon as the flour is almost incorporated, add half of the milk mixture. Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour mixture, then most of the milk (leave 2 tablespoons to use with frosting), then the rest of the flour, making sure not to overmix after each addition. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s), filling cupcake cups about 3/4 full. Bake 20 to 30 minutes. When done, the middle of the cupcakes will spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip. A toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake should come back with a few crumbs attached. (These cupcakes did not rise very high in the center. But that's OK.) Let cupcakes cool on wire racks.
To make frosting, beat butter with an electric mixer until completely smooth, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, pour in the condensed milk and add the powdered sugar in a few batches. Add vanilla and the remaining 2 tablespoons of the brewed tea. Beat until completely incorporated.
Recipe altered from BowenAppetit.com.