Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tea Time Cupcakes

One of my favorite things is sipping tea while snacking on some juicy strawberries. Earl grey tea seems to be making it's way into a lot of popular dessert recipes and I wanted to get in on the action. I decided I would make strawberry cupcakes and top them with a creamy earl grey frosting. Surprisingly, it was really hard to find a recipe for strawberry cupcakes. I found a lot of recipes using box cake mix and jello mix, which is kind of gross and not what I was looking for. The other recipes where just vanilla cupcakes with strawberry frosting. After searching around some more, I decided to use a vanilla cupcake recipe and alter it.

Alright, so how did they turn out? Just okay. The cupcakes don't taste like earl grey tea at all. They are very faintly strawberry, not what I had planned. I didn't write this into the recipe because it didn't end up making a difference; I thought if I "juiced" some of the strawberries through a fine mesh sieve, it would make the batter pink and taste more like strawberry. I think I would have had to add a lot of juice to make this actually work and I don't know how that would affect the liquid ratios in the recipe. The cupcakes do taste really good, but just not as flavorful as I wanted them to be. The texture turned out well, the tops are kind of crunchy and the insides are fluffy and moist.

Okay, on to my next "fail": The frosting. I don't really like butter cream. Why did I decide to make it today? I think I was feeling kind of lazy and butter cream seemed to be the answer. My mixer isn't working properly, so the classic 7 Minute frosting was out because I knew my arm would fall off if I tried to whip it to perfection by hand. Anyway, I made the frosting with butter, a little whole milk, powdered sugar, a very small pinch of salt, vanilla, and some pink gel food coloring. It looked awesome, super smooth and creamy. It was kind of too sweet for my taste though. So then I added some earl grey tea and some finely chopped strawberries. I folded them in and something terrible happened. I don't know exactly what though. The frosting kind of...broke. I don't know if it started separating because I over whipped it, or if I should have whipped it more after adding the strawberries, or even if the liquid from the strawberries didn't incorporate. After mixing and tasting and adding and tasting, I feel totally sick. I over did it. And now I have 22 cupcakes and a ton of gross looking butter cream. Ugh.

a nice close up of my gross looking frosting

Tea Time Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup finely diced strawberries
1/2 tablespoon finely ground earl grey tea (I used one teabag)
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tin with paper liners.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and tea together in a medium bowl.

3. In a separate, larger bowl, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar, creaming until light and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Fold in strawberries.

5. In a small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla.

6. To the butter mixture, add about one quarter of the flour mixture and mix well. Add about one quarter of the milk mixture and mix well. Continue alternating the flour mixture and milk mixture, beating after each addition until smooth.

7. Pour the batter into the cupcake tins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched.

8. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then turn the cupcakes out of the tins and onto a rack to finish cooling completely.


  1. Mmm. Don't give up on an earl-grey flavor. I think the frosting broke b/c of the water of the tea and butter/milk not being able to incorporate. I wonder if melting butter with earl grey (in bags? or maybe loose and then strained?) and letting it set back up would be worth the effort? And I totally have a tummy ache today from my blog post in progress, too. ://

  2. This post made me a little sad, because you sound so disappointed. I'm glad you posted it though, because I identified with you this morning when Wiley and I made some icky pancakes. Lessons learned.


  3. Amanda - I know I'm totally late on this comment (just checked your blog again to see if there were new posts and realized I didn't comment - I thought I had!).

    A really delicious way to infuse tea flavor into a frosting is to make a ganache. Heat cream (or milk, almond milk, etc.) to a simmer, add the earl grey tea, cover the pot, and let it steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain the tea out, bring the liquid back to a simmer and pour it over some finely chopped chocolate or white chocolate. You can either frost cupcakes with the warm ganache (more like a glaze) or chill the ganache until it's set. Then use your mixer to whip it - it will be just as fluffy and pretty as buttercream and it will taste like tea!

    I really love your blog - post more soon please!

    Also, I swear I haven't forgotten about the book. It's on my desk - I promise to send it soon!!!!!