Sunday, 9 March 2014

Vanilla Spice Latte Cupcakes

Every new year, I'm sure, as many of you do, I make a mini resolution not to drink so many coffee house coffees. Not that my habit is that huge, maybe one or two skinny lattes a week. The past few years, this mini resolution has been scuppered by a certain, well known, international coffee house bringing out their vanilla spice lattes. This latte is flavoured with cardamom which is by far my favourite spice (well, today's favourite at least) and I find them completely irresistible. Each year , I intend to make a cupcake version of this velvety drink and this year, I actually managed it and today, I am going to share my recipe with you.

These Vanilla Spice Latte cupcakes are coffee and cardamom flavour cupcakes topped with a generous swirl of vanilla buttercream.

Cardamom is the mystery spice that makes the vanilla spice latte one of the lushest things you have ever tasted, it is often used in curries and if when eating a curry you have found your mouth suddenly filled with fragrant bliss, then the humble looking cardamom pod is most probably the cause.

These cupcakes are made using a crumb cake method, if you haven't made a cake or cupcakes like this before, it might require a bit of a leap of faith for you to have a go, believe me it will be worth it, this method of making the cupcakes, makes it less likely that you will overwork the gluten in the flour resulting in a lovely light soft textured cupcake. It also uses a lot less fat than the more conventional creaming method and this could really work in your favour if you have been suffering with the dreaded peeling cupcake wrappers.



Double shot of espresso or strong instant coffee powder
10 cardamom pods to give about 1 teaspoon ground or crushed cardamom
120g plain / all purpose flour
140g caster / superfine sugar
40g margarine or butter
1 and a half teaspoons of baking powder
1 egg
About 100ml double cream or milk

Pre heat the over to 170 F / 325 C


Start by making or buying a double espresso coffee. If you can't get this then mix at least three teaspoons of strong instant coffee powder with enough boiling water to dissolve it.

Next put the 10 or so cardamom pods into a pestle and mortar, crush lightly to separate the husks from the seeds and then remove the green husks. The husks are edible, so it is OK if some bits get left behind.

Now grind up the black seeds, to release that lovely aroma.

To make the cupcakes, start by putting the 120g flour, 140g sugar and 1 and a half teaspoons of baking powder with the 40g margarine or butter into your mixer with the K beater and mix on a low to medium speed until the mixture become sandy.

Now put one egg into your well used, scratched up and indispensable measuring jug, preferably pyrex. If you don't have an old beaten up one, a new and shiny one will do the job, but, of course your cupcakes won't taste quite so good ;o).

You will probably find that your egg measures about 50ml and this is perfect if it does. If it is more or less, it doesn't really matter either. Add your coffee infused with the cardamom seeds into the measuring jug and then top up with enough double cream to bring the total amount of egg, coffee, cardamom and cream to 170ml. I use double cream to give the cupcakes that milky latte flavour, but, if you haven't got it, or don't want to use it, substitute whatever milk or cream you have to hand. Give your liquids a good mix together with a fork and take a good sniff and you'll be immediately transported to your favourite coffee house.

Set your mixer going on slow speed and start to pour your liquid onto the edge of the crumby mixer to to incorporate. As soon as the mixture turns from dry crumbs to something that looks wet, stop pouring and turn up the mixer for a minute or so, until you have a smooth batter. Turn your mixer to slow again and add the rest of the liquid.

You should end up with a lovely smooth and glossy divine smelling batter. Fill your cupcake cases half to two thirds full and then bake at 170 F 325 C for 20 to 25 minutes.

This batch made nine medium sized cupcakes for me.


Buttercream is traditionally half butter and half icing sugar. I find this a little soft so use 250g butter and 350g icing sugar. It is a good idea to start with equal amounts of icing sugar (confectioners sugar) and butter (never margarine) and experiment a bit, till you find what works for you. I added a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste to add the vanilla flavour.

These swirls are piped with the legendary Wilton 1M nozzle (tip). I went around four or five times to give these lots of height and be reminiscent of that swirl of whipped cream on top of your latte.

Obviously, lovely as a buttercream swirl is, I couldn't leave them like this, could I? More soon .....

 That's all for today
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