Chai Cupcakes for Mother’s Day


Whipping brown butterI always try and bake something for the mothers in my life on Mother’s Day. I like to bake (or cook) for people as a way to show my affection – it takes a lot longer to scratch bake than stop at that bakery around the corner (but please don’t get me wrong, I love that bakery around the corner and welcome all of its goodies in my mouth!). It’s also a great excuse to try a new recipe you’ve been eyeing for a while, like these spiced Chai Cupcakes with a nutty Brown Butter Chai Frosting. 

I’ve never made frosting with browned butter before and was somewhat skeptical before trying this recipe. Fortunately, the frosting turned out great! The nutty flavour added by browning the butter nicely compliment the chai spices in the frosting.

Think this recipe sounds like a chai overload? Think again!

Chai Cupcakes with Brown Butter Chai Frosting

Recipe adapted from Husbands That Cook

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:


  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp salt


  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup milk

Frosting Ingredients:


  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp milk

Crunchy Topping Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp turbinado / raw sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom


Cupcake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt. After sifting, whisk together to thoroughly combine all the ingredients.
  3. In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), beat the butter on medium-high until light and creamy – about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the granulated sugar and continue to beat until incorporated.
  5. Add the egg and yolk one at a time, beating to fully incorporating after each addition.
  6. Pour in the vanilla extract and oil and (you guessed it!) beat until incorporated.
  7. Turn the mixer off and add half of the flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated.
  8. Pour in the  milk and mix until just incorporated.
  9. Add the second half of the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated (do not overmix!).
  10. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 cupcake liners, until roughly ⅔ full.
  11. Bake until the tops are set and a toothpick comes out clean – start checking at 15 minutes. Mine took about 20.
  12. Let cupcakes cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Frosting Directions:

  1. Melt butter over low-medium heat in a small saucepan. Keep it over the heat, stirring often, until milk solids sink and start to turn dark brown (you will likely hear some “hissing” at this point, that is a good sign!). Careful not to burn the butter – if it starts to smoke, remove it from the head immediately. If the liquid part of the butter starts to darken and smoke, you’ve burned the butter and need to start over!
  2. Transfer butter to a heatproof bowl and allow to cool to room temperature (you can leave the brown bits in!). To speed up the process, pop it in the fridge for about an hour. You can also do this the day before and bring to room temperature before using.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients.
  4. Transfer butter to a mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, roughly 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix, starting on low and then increasing to medium-high, for another 2-3 minutes. It should be well combined and an even colour.
  6. Add the milk 1 Tablespoon at a time, mixing until combined on medium high between each addition. You  may find your frosting is thin or thick enough before adding all 4 Tablespoons. If this is the case, stop there!
  7. If the frosting is too thick, thin it out by adding one Tablespoon of milk at a time. If the frosting is too thin, thicken it by adding one or two Tablespoons of icing sugar at a time.


Cupcake Assembly:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cardamom, and cinnamon. Stir together to mix as evenly as you can.
  2. Divide the frosting evenly between the 12 cupcakes. This is where you get to choose how fancy or simple you’d like to be! Use a piping bag or spatula – whatever works best for you!
  3. Top frosted cupcakes with a few sprinkles of the Crunchy Topping.
  4. Instagram your best shot or just indulge right away!

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