Bake fast, bake fierce. That was the motto of the Cupcake Wars on February 19. The Food Science Club hosted the event in the teaching kitchens of Martha Van Raenssalear.
Unlike the Food Network show, the five teams could prepare in advance, choosing themes and gathering specialty ingredients. Some even practiced.
Seasoned bakers dominated this competition. At Team MQIP (all members of the Milk Quality Improvement Program), Nicole Martin, lab manager, and teammates Lexi Andrus, technician, and Clint Hervert, ’14, made art. Their inspiration? “Like studying in a coffee house all day,” joked Andrus. Hervert elaborated, “We all like coffee chai tea a lot, and we thought we should put them together – tea and coffee.”
The team layered cut chai cupcakes with chai buttercream, topped with whipped cream and a dusting of cinammon in the shape of a heart for their chai latte cupcake. They piped coffee swiss meringue buttercream over a mocha cake layer for their café mocha cupcake. Both “hot drinks” were steamed with wisps of chocolate.
Judges Claire Aucella ’12 and Olivia Weihe ‘13 tasted the submissions. Pausing before the winning Team MQIP’s chai latte cupcake, Aucella declared, “This one is as good as it looks.” After the event, both judges were full of cake and compliments. “They were all very impressive, especially the flavor combinations,” said Weihe. The prizes for the winners? Whisks.
Chai Latte Cupcakes:
1/2 cup boiling water
6 chai tea bags
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup (3 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened (I used plain ol' full fat)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided into two 1/4 cups
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup fat-free buttermilk (or 4 tbsp buttermilk powder and 1 cup water)
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350°.
Pour boiling water over tea bags in a bowl; steep 5 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags; cool to room temperature (correct back to 1/2 cup liquid)
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, stirring with a whisk. Place the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 3 minutes). Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until well combined. Beat in brewed tea and vegetable oil. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition.
Using clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-third of egg whites into batter; gently fold in remaining egg whites. Spoon batter into 24 cupcake liners (or, as per original recipe a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray).
Bake at 350° for (18-22min for cupcakes) 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
Adapted by Lexi Andrus from Carole Bloom, Cooking Light OCTOBER 2003.
ADD-ONs for cupcake wars:
Buttercream Frosting Layer:
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 tbsp liquid (chai tea and milk)
3 cup powdered sugar,
Chai spices from above (to taste).
Mix ingredients until creamy texture is obtained.
Cold Whipping Cream
Whip together until stiff.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg, garnish with white-chocolate swirls.