Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes

We all know pumpkin is a fall flavor.  Sure, you can buy cans of it year round, but eating pumpkin in summer is like eating a strawberry in January.  You can do it, but it just feels weird…unless you’re my daughter. 

The kids wanted cupcakes instead of layer cake for the wedding, and there’s a local cupcake shop that makes them gluten-free once a week.  For a while, Codi was a Bella Cupcake Wednesday regular.  When it came time to place the wedding order, the one flavor she was absolutely sure about was pumpkin chai.  Thankfully, Bella was accommodating and agreed, even though it wasn’t pumpkin season for them.  Out of the four flavors, it ended up being the most popular.  Well, being the experimenter that I am, I decided to attempt my own version.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 1
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 1

First of all, let me say I cannot compete with Bella Cupcake.  I didn’t get a chance to try one of theirs (like I said, popular) but I already know these don’t taste the same.  However, for an amateur, starting-with-boxed-mix version, these are delicious. 

I made these gluten-free, but you could certainly use a regular cake mix.  Just adjust the amount of eggs and water to reflect what’s required on the box.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes

  • 1 box of vanilla cake mix
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup instant black tea
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 3/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 2
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 2

Dissolve the instant tea in the water.  Mix all of the dry spices into the cake mix.  Add the butter, eggs, pumpkin and tea/water.  Continue with the mixing and baking instructions on your box for cupcakes.

I had to try this recipe three times before I had one with the flavor I was looking for.  For the first attempt I replaced some of the water with liquid chai concentrate, and they were very pumpkinish and had very little chai coming through.  It was all we could do to scarf down the whole batch.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 3
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 3

The second time, I referred to my Spiced Chai drink mix for the spices to add.  I went a little light because I didn’t want them to be too overpowering.  They were good, but it was still hard to taste anything but pumpkin.  When I read the drink recipe a second time, I realized the number of servings was nearly the same as my cake mix, so I went all-out and added the same measurements for the spices.  You can even see the difference in color between the two batches.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 4
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 4

Bingo!  These are definitely spicy, but a good dose of cream cheese frosting on top tones them down just enough.  I’m pretty sure nothing has ever said fall quite as loudly as these do.

Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 5
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes - Crafty Staci 5