Since I am living at beautiful Batten House in the fall, my vegan experiments begin this summer. I started with a recipe from vegan chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz (Vegan with a Vengeance, VeganCupcakes Take Over the World).
In the summer of 2006, I spent three weeks in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, France . I made a friend there who was from Turkey, and one afternoon he invited us over to his house. His mother was the sweetest woman, but she spoke no English or French. However, food has no boundaries (linguistic or national), and she gave us a lovely welcome by serving up a delicious plate of cookies and a steaming hot cup of chai tea (pure black tea with spices--no ice, no milk, no sugar). I still remember the taste of the hot chai in the height of summer, spicy and aromatic.
I have loved chai ever since then, even in more adulterated forms (like the coffee shop sugarshock version: an iced chai latte). When I saw these cupcakes (the long list of spices!), I knew they'd be a great first vegan recipe to try!
***The recipe is as follows:
1 cup soy or rice milk
4 black teabags or 2 tablespoons loose black tea
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup plain or vanilla soy yogurt (*I used SilkLive! Vanilla soy yogurt, and added slightly less than a tsp. of vanilla extract to balance out the flavor)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch of ground white or black pepper
1/2 cup confectioners sugar (*I needed much less than 1/2 a cup, as well as about half the ingredients below)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or ground mace
Preheat oven to 375 and line tin with cupcake liners. In a small saucepan heat soymilk till almost boiling, add tea bags, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes.When ready to use stir teabags and thoroughly squeeze to insure as much tea is dissolved in milk as possible.
In a large bowl whisk together oil, yogurt, sugar, vanilla and tea mixture until all yogurt lumps disappear. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and pepper into wet ingredients. Mix until large lumps disappear; some small lumps are okay. Fill tins full and bake about 20 to 22 minutes until a sharp knife inserted comes out clean.
Make sure cupcakes are completely cooled before adding topping, or the sugar will melt and not look pretty or powdery.
To assemble, sift confectioners sugar over cooled cupcakes first, then mix cocoa, cinnamon, and nutmeg together and sift onto each cupcake. Enjoy!
For some reason my batter only yielded 9 cupcakes, but they were still delicious! Sometimes with vegan desserts have a particular taste that gives them away--these don't! The texture was slightly more like a moist quick bread (but not as dense as muffins) than a fluffy cupcake (but that's the lack of eggs and butter). Still, the overall flavor triumphed!
Warning: the black tea used makes the cupcakes caffeinated!! Substitute decaf chai if you don't want to be up at night (Celestial Seasonings makes a very good one).