It’s easy to make filled cupcakes and it’s a handy kitchen skill to have because it allows you to do more with your cupcakes than just frost them. You can improve a dry cupcake by infusing some moisture into it with a creamy filling and you can bring in new flavor to an otherwise plain expanse of cake. I filled up these Cardamom Chai Spiced Cupcakes with a lemon frosting for the latter reason, bringing in a lot of bright citrus flavor to give the cake a burst of summertime with each bite.
The cupcakes themselves are flavored with vanilla, cardamom and chai tea. Brew the chai tea as you would if you were going to pour yourself a cuppa (or maybe a bit on the strong side), then let it cool down to room temperature. The chai tea goes into the cake with the milk and other ingredients, giving each bite a subtle hint of all of the spices that go into a chai. I added cardamom to the cake, as well. Not only is it a component in chai tea, but it actually has a slightly citrusy flavor that goes very well with the lemon frosting. The cupcakes are tender with a satisfying, but not overwhelming, spice flavor to them. They are slightly dense, which makes them just right for holding up to the filling and frosting because they are easy to work with without the cake crumbling apart as you handle it.
The frosting and the filling start off the same way, with a lemon-infused sour cream buttercream frosting. Once the frosting is made, about 1/3 of it is set aside and lemon curd is mixed in to make the filling. You don’t loose any of the rich creaminess of the buttercream, but the curd brings out the lemon flavor even more and thins the filling slightly, so it is easier to pipe into the cupcakes. I had a little extra filling leftover from my batch, so I just squeezed it back into the original bowl of frosting and blended it in, adding an extra subtle pop of lemon flavor in the frosting.
Lemon Frosted Cardamom Chai Cupcakes
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup brewed chai tea, room temperature
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 16 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. Blend in one third of the flour mixture. Add in the tea, followed by another third of the flour mixture. Add in the milk, followed by the remaining flour. Mix only until all ingredients are combined and no streaks of flour remain.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Makes 16 cupcakes
(A photo how-to of the assembly method can be found here.) Take a cooled cupcake and, using a small pairing knife, cut a cone of cake (1-inch across by 1-inch deep) out of the top. Trim off the pointy end of the cone, leaving a flat circle of cake. Set aside and repeat this process for all the cupcakes.
Take the cream filling and squeeze a tablespoon or so into each cupcake cavity, filling the hole up to the top with filling. Top off with a flat circle of cake to plug the hole and keep the filling in place.
Lemon Frosting and Filling
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
3-4 cups confectioners sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon curd
In a large bowl, beat together butter and sour cream until smooth. Blend in lemon zest and bout 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Gradually beat in remaining confectioners’ sugar until frosting has reached a thick, spreadable consistency.
Remove about 1/3 of the frosting to a smaller bowl. Stir in lemon curd. Transfer to a plastic bag with the tip snipped off and pipe the mixture into the hollowed-out cupcakes. Seal up cupcakes. Squeeze any remaining filling back into the frosting and stir to combine.
Frost cupcakes with remaining frosting.