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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chai Cupcakes with Chai Cream Cheese Frosting

When you collect your race packet and written in large red letters is the following "There is a real possibility that YOU MAY DIE or be catastrophically injured," you may be wondering what you got yourself into.  I was staring at these exact words this Saturday when boyfriend and I got ready to run our very first Spartan Race. 

Registering for the Spartan Race was not my idea.  Four months ago, Boyfriend found the race through a Living Social deal and signed us both up.  I went to the website and was presented with a video of fit looking people crawling under barbed wire, scaling ten foot walls, leaping over fire and jumping into giant pits of mud.  On top of all of this, the runners were confronted with armed gladiators in the last 100 feet.  What did I get myself into?

Saturday morning we drove through rainstorms and wound up at the Mountain Creek Ski Resort, in beautiful and sundrenched Northwestern New Jersey.  We donned our race numbers and lined up at the starting gate.  I jumped up and down, arooing at boyfriend.  He stood there and told me I was acting crazy and to stop it.

The siren blared and we were off and running!  For the first 500 feet.  Then we were faced with a very daunting, very steep, very tall hill.  A black diamond ski slope to be exact.  The 250 racers in our heat quickly turned from a group of excited, cheering athletes, to a mass of red-faced, short-of-breath ninnies.  What am I saying, I was right there with them.  This hill just kept on going up, it took me 2/3 of the way up to control my breathing and get into a good place.

After the first two miles, boyfriend and I found our pace.  He pushed me to keep going up those hills and I kept him running through the woods.  We swam through a lake, climbed over wall, flipped huge tractor tires but at mile 7, I was on my own.  Boyfriend was struck down by a serious migraine and I had to finish the last four miles on my own.

Luckily there was lots of fun to be had in the last four miles, including a 200-foot rock scramble to the top of the last hill, 9 & 10-foot walls to climb, monkey bars, mud slides, A-frames and...  a torrential thunderstorm.  With only two miles to go, the heavens opened up and the racers and I were sprinting to the finish line through sheets of rain, it was way dramatic.  Good thing I didn't know about the tornado warning.

I crossed the finish line, accepted my fancy medal and located my sad boyfriend.  Now I'm nursing my wounds and walking very slowly down the stairs.  And I'm eating cupcakes.  Because I ran eleven miles on Saturday and totally deserve them.

One Year Ago: Congo Bars
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Buns

Chai Cupcakes
Adapted from Better Homes & Garden Special Interest Issue - Cupcakes

These cupcakes are not for those people who are afraid of flavor!  The Chai spice seasoning in the cupcakes and frosting packs a huge punch!  I loved these treats, boyfriend passed on them.  He's afraid of the flavor!

1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp Chai spice seasoning
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Set butter and eggs on the counter and let warm to room temperature for 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, Chai spice seasoning, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large mxing bowl, beat butter for 30 seconds.  Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time.  Add eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla.  Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and beat for 30 seconds more.

Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with flour.  Add dried cranberries and mix just to incorporate.

Add 1/4-cup cupcake batter to each cupcake liner.  Bake each pan of cupcakes for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked into the center of the cake.  Remove cupcakes from the oven and let cool for ten minutes on a wire rack, in the pan.  Remove cupcakes from the pan and let cool completely before frosting.

Chai Cream Cheese Frosting

6-oz cream cheese
1/3 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp Chai spice mix
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Let cream cheese and butter come to room temperature for 30 minutes.  In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and cream cheese for 30 seconds.  Add Chai spice mix and vanilla, beat until combined.  Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until frosting reaches a spreadable consistancy.  If you want to pipe the cupcakes, add 1/2 cup more.

Transfer frosting to a piping bag with a 1-cm round tip and pipe blobs of frosting onto your cupcakes.  Or using a butter knife, spread frosting onto cakes.

Chai Spice Mix

1/2 tsp ground fennel
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Add all spices together in a small container and shake.
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