A couple of times a year my husband and I take a day off from work for a “play date.” This is a day when Z goes to daycare while we get to go out and do whatever we want and enjoy each other’s company. And eat. Our last date was a trio of our fantastic Wicker Park spots: Big Star (a long time favorite,) Glazed & Infused Donuts (a take-home treat for Z) and our new favorite, Jeni’s Ice Cream. I know that Jeni’s isn’t new, but this is the first conveniently located shop for us. We were already fans, thanks to Jeni’s first cookbook, so we were super excited about trying out more flavors. Brian fell in love with the Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet, but I am now obsessed with a limited edition flavor (forgot the name!) that was chocolate with garam masala and coconut. And because I can’t get it anymore, I decided to recreate the flavors in cupcake form. While the flavors in this cupcake are a little more mellow than those in Jeni’s ice cream, these One Bowl Chocolate Chai Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting totally satisfy my cravings.
I’m not going to try and re-invent the wheel, so this recipe is just a modified Wacky Cake. Not familiar with Wacky Cake? This is a Depression-era cake that doesn’t require eggs or butter – read about it on Wikipedia like I did. And it is all made in one bowl. I know. Awesome. And it just occured to me that they are also vegan. And while Jeni’s used a garam masala flavoring in their ice cream, I’m just not that brave. Using brewed chai tea gives just enough flavor to make these cupcakes special, but not so strong that it is in your face.
Because this is such a simple cake to make, it is a perfect last-minute treat or project for kids. Even though chai sounds a little odd, Z loved these cupcakes. Of course it also makes a delicious cake, if cupcakes aren’t your style. I have read directions suggestion that you should first mix the dry ingredients, then make a well for both the oil and the vinegar and then pour the water over the top before mixing. But as a non-baker, that just didn’t make sense to me. But dumping everything into a bowl and stirring created great results, so I’m sticking with my lazy method.
These cupcakes don’t need frosting to be delicious, but without frosting, wouldn’t they be muffins? This frosting is a simple blend of coconut cream, powdered sugar and whipped cream cheese. Oh, and lime zest and coconut extract, for that extra little extra punch. And because you put the lime in the coconut, right? A quick scoop of icing, a sprinkle of coconut and you have an unbelievably easy and tasty cupcake! I should be upfront and warn you that I am not a frosting lover. I usually scrape it onto my husband’s plate. A batch of this frosting makes enough to nicely top a cupcake, but I typically use just enough to hold the coconut in place.
One note about the coconut cream: coconut cream comes in squirt bottles in the cocktail mixer section of your local grocery store, although I found it more consistently at Target. Cream of coconut, found in cans, didn’t work consistently for me and I didn’t have much use for leftovers.
|One Bowl Chocolate Chai Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting|| |
- 3 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ¾ cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups brewed chai tea, at room temperature - see note
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 8 oz container whipped cream cheese
- zest of 1 lime -
- ¼ teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 7 oz package of sweetened coconut flakes
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Whisk all dry ingredients together into a large bowl.
- Whisk in each of the dry ingredients.
- Stir until there are no lumps.
- Scoop into lined cupcake pan.
- Bake 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Beat together all ingredients except coconut flakes until well blended.
- Spread on cupcakes once they are room temperature.
- Sprinkle on coconut flakes.