Literally Thai Iced Tea in cupcake form, these Thai Tea Cupcakes are as delicious as they are vibrant! I even topped them with a Condensed Milk Buttercream to stay true to flavor.
You may remember some time ago I posted about a No-Churn Thai Tea Ice Cream recipe I loved, alongside my favorite recipe for making Thai Iced Tea. I was so happy with the success of those recipes I felt emboldened to make something else involving Thai tea. I knew I wanted it to be a cake, and at the last minute I decided to turn it into something smaller, and so here we are with these gorgeously colored Thai Tea Cupcakes.
This cupcake flavor is completely unusual, but that seems to be the running theme for the cupcakes I make on this blog. I just recently realized I haven’t shared a classic vanilla or chocolate cupcake, but I have stuff like Champagne Cupcakes, Coke Float Cupcakes, and Matcha Chocolate Cupcakes (which isn’t unusual anymore these days I guess). I went from those and jumped right into these Thai Tea Cupcakes. Isn’t that kind of weird? I regret nothing because I am proud of my cupcake recipe collection here truth be told, although I reckon I should probably write about my favorite classic cupcakes soon as well.
Anyway, these cupcakes have an impressive Thai tea flavor in them, plus a lovely scent and a really pretty color! I also really love the texture of these cupcakes– just moist enough and soft enough at room temp. These are one of those cupcakes that harden when refrigerated, but it’s nothing a little rest on the countertop won’t solve.
Because I wanted the delicate Thai tea flavor of the cupcake base to shine through the most, I decided to use a small amount of buttercream to top each cupcake. Just a dollop for a bit of sweetness is really all you need to keep loyal to the theme and the flavors of Thai Iced Tea.
Before you can even think of starting this recipe, there is one important thing you will have to acquire, and that is the Thai Tea Mix. This is the brand I use. It’s a very popular brand so I bet you can easily purchase it online. It’s also not expensive. Once you buy this, you can forget about needing to buy Thai Milk Tea from a shop for a while because you can make some on your own! (Here’s a really good recipe you can try.) And of course, you can also start this recipe.
So first thing you need to do is make your Thai tea milk. This is the main liquid component of your cupcakes. In a saucepan, mix together milk and condensed milk, then let it come to a light simmer. Once it’s bubbling, dump in the Thai tea mix and mix until the milk is colored orange. Immediately remove from heat before it has a chance to boil.
Now you want this to steep for 10 minutes to extract maximum flavor, at which point you will notice that it turns a very dark orange color. Strain this using a fine mesh strainer. You should get about 2/3 cup of Thai tea milk. If not, add a bit ore milk until you reach 2/3 cup. I did end up adding just a touch more milk to get to 2/3 cup.
Put your strained Thai tea milk into the fridge to quickly cool down. I personally chilled it for about 10 minutes before I got started on the cupcakes themselves.
To make the cupcake base, you will need one large bowl and one medium bowl. In the smaller bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt. In the larger bowl, you want to cream together your softened butter and sugar until it turns light and fluffy. I almost always do this step using a spatula because I also like to gauge whether I’ve properly creamed the mixture by feel, but you can use a mixer as well.
Add in the eggs, one at a time, incorporating the first before adding in the next. You’ll get an even fluffier mixture than before, at which point you’ll want to beat in some vanilla extract.
Now it’s time to take out your chilled Thai tea milk. You want to add this in alternating with the dry mixture, but the dry mixture should go in first and last. So what you do is add 1/3 of the dry mixture first, then using a folding motion, mix until all the flour is nearly incorporated.
Add in half of the Thai tea milk, then also mix until nearly fully incorporated. You don’t have to mix it so thoroughly at this point because we don’t want to overwork the batter.
Following this pattern, add in the next 1/3 of the flour, mix until almost incorporated, then add in the last 1/2 of the Thai tea milk. Once you’ve mixed in nearly all the liquid, add in the last 1/3 of flour. Now this part is important, you want to mix the last bit of flour into the batter JUST UNTIL INCORPORATED. This means you do not want to make extra unnecessary mixing to your batter, so make sure you scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as you mix just to make sure you don’t have hidden clumps of flour in there. Mix just until the last streak of flour disappears into the batter.
The reason I’m highlighting this is because overmixing will almost always result in a tough cake, and that is the last thing we want.
Divide the batter among your cupcake liners. Depending on how big your liners are, you’ll produce between 12 to 13 cupcakes. I filled mine a little over 3/4 of the way up, leaving a little space for the cupcakes to rise up and form a dome.
Gosh these cupcakes are soooo pretty! Leave them to cool on a wire rack.
For the frosting, I decided to use a butter base flavored with condensed milk. It does not have any confectioners’ sugar but you better believe this icing is quite sweet if taken in large doses, which is why I made only a small amount on purpose. I only want a thin coating on top of my cupcakes. To make this, you basically just whip your softened butter until it becomes smooth and fluffy, then add in the condensed milk.
Beat the condensed milk into the butter until you get a buttercream that can hold itself well. To test this, lift your whisk up and see if it can hold a peak.
Using a spoon, I just dollop about a tablespoon of buttercream onto my completely cooled cupcakes, then spread it out. Your cupcakes have to be COMPLETELY cooled, or your buttercream WILL MELT.
And that is it, ladies and gents! I personally always seek balance in my cupcakes so I never pile the frosting on too much, but in this case I really urge you not to do it. This frosting is sweet, and it will most certainly overpower the more gentle taste of the Thai Tea cupcake base. It would be a waste if all you can gather with every bite of this cupcake is the sweet milky flavor of condensed milk. These Thai Tea Cupcakes are too good for that!
Thai Tea Cupcakes with Condensed Milk Buttercream
For the Thai Tea Cupcakes
- 240 mL 1 cup whole milk
- 40 grams 2 Tablespoons condensed milk
- 36 grams 6 Tablespoons Thai tea leaves mix
- 155 grams 1¼ cups + 2 Tablespoons unsifted cake flour
- 2.5 grams 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 112.5 grams ½ cup butter, room temperature
- 185 grams ¾ cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Condensed Milk Buttercream
- 112.5 grams ½ cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 100 grams a very full 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line the cupcake pan with liners.
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the milk and condensed milk. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until almost simmering and bubbles start forming around the edges of the milk mixture. Whisk in the Thai tea leaves mix until milk is colored and immediately remove from heat. Steep for 10 minutes.
- Strain the Thai tea-infused milk mixture through a fine mesh strainer. You should have around 2/3 cup of Thai tea-infused milk at this point. (Top up with more milk if necessary.) You want this at room temperature before using so chill in the fridge to make it cool down faster.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure the first egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
- Add in 1/3 of the flour mixture and use a spatula to fold it in. Once the flour is almost incorporated entirely, fold in half the cooled down Thai tea-milk mixture. Making sure not to overmix after each addition, alternate adding in the dry and wet mix, ending with the dry. Make sure to scrape along the bottom and sides of the bowl as you go so that there are no pockets of dry ingredients hiding in the batter. Stop mixing the moment the final streak of flour is gone.
- Divide the batter among the cupcakes liners, filling a little over ¾ of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes back with just a few crumbs attached. The center of the cupcakes should also spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip. They will look a little wet on top even though they're done. Do not overbake them.
- Let the cupcakes cool in the cupcake pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, before removing the individual cupcakes onto the wire rack to cool completely.
Make the buttercream
- In a large bowl, beat the butter for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla extract and beat until combined. Pour in the condensed milk and whip everything together for about a minute, or until the frosting can hold its shape when the whisk is lifted.
- Once the cupcakes have cooled, frost them as desired. You can use a piping bag with a nice tip or just use a spoon. This frosting should be enough to moderately frost 13 cupcakes. I don't recommend piling on the frosting because the flavor of the cupcake base may get overwhelmed. Consume at room temperature but store in fridge in airtight container up to 3 days.
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