Depinder Chhibber's Spiced Chai Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting

Welcome to Put on a Spread, a recipe series that takes you inside the kitchens – and dining rooms – of some of our favorite home cooks. For this instalment, Sydney-based cook and MasterChef contestant Depinder Chhibber shares her recipe for spiced chai cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. 

Cupcakes are one those baked goods that rarely disappoint. Communal, fun, and delicious, they are the perfect treat to bring into the office, take to a party, or indulge in at home. 

And while we all love the standard vanilla or chocolate flavours, Depinder Chhibber's delicious Chai iteration of the much-loved dessert brings something unique, exciting, and a bit more sophisticated to the table. 

Chai is the perfect flavour to add to cakes. It's spicy and complex and, when put into cupcakes, makes things feel just a bit more adult. Depinder's recipe sees tea leaves and a range of spices including cardamom, ginger, and cloves added to cake batter.

The resulting fluffy cupcake is then topped with a delectable cream cheese icing that is perfectly complementary to the spice and will have you coming back for seconds. 


For the cupcake:

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 tbsp almond meal (optional)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter (melted)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (or any neutral oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • ¼ tsp bi carb soda
  • ¼ cup Greek yoghurt
  • ½ cup full cream milk
  • 1 tsp black tea leaves 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg powder
  • ¼ tsp clove powder

For the icing:

  • 100 g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 250 g cream cheese
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 175C (fan forced). 

In a small saucepan, add milk and tea leaves and bring it to the boil. Then, take it off the heat and leave it to cool. 

In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, oil, greek yoghurt and vanilla and mix until combined. Then, add the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is smooth.

Strain the cooled, spiced milk and add it to the batter. Mix well.

Transfer the finished batter to a lined cupcake tin. Bake for 25-30 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack.

To make the icing, fit a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and cream cheese and mix until combined. Slowly add the icing sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, until desired taste.

Add the vanilla extract and the spices and continue to mix until a uniform icing mixture is formed.

Using a spoon or a piping bag, top the cooled cupcakes with the icing.

Sprinkle with cinnamon powder to serve, and enjoy with a cup of tea!

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