A light and spicy pumpkin cupcake infused with fragrant chai tea, topped with creamy caramel swiss meringue buttercream.
Pre heat oven to 180C
Line two muffin trays with 18 cupcake papers
Boil water for chai tea. In a saucepan, put 3/4 cup boiled water and chai tea (two bags or 2 tblesp loose tea leaves) onto low heat. Simmer for a couple of minutes then turn heat off. Leave to infuse while you make the cupcake mix.
In a medium bowl, using a hand whisk, mix together eggs, oil, vanilla and sour cream.
Add grated pumpkin. Stir carefully until well combined.
Strain tea leaves or remove tea bags and add liquid (tea) to mixture.
In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, bicarb soda. Whisk until well combined.
Add both brown and castor sugars. Whisk well.
Add spices and whisk together until well combined.
Carefully pour wet mixture into dry mix and stir together with a spatula until well combined.
Using an ice cream scoop, pour batter into cupcake liners until each is 2/3 full.
Bake in moderate oven until firm to touch and slightly brown on top. Test with a skewer. You may need to bake for up to 25 minutes. Make sure they are well cooked.
Place egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Hand whisk until well combined.Put bowl onto a small saucepan filled with an inch of water. This creates a double boiler.
Whisk vigorously for a minute, then leave mixture to simmer for up to ten minutes or until sugar is dissolved. You can check this by running a stream of the mixture between your fingers. If there are no grains, it is ready. Be careful not to burn yourself, but it shouldn't be too hot to touch.
Remove mixing bowl. Place bowl onto electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment whisk mixture on high until stiff peaks of meringue is formed, about five minutes.
Turn mixer off and change to paddle attachment.
Turn mixer onto the lowest speed and add pieces of soft butter, one at a time until all butter is mixed in.
Leave the mixture to do it's thing, which can take up to 15 minutes. It may look soupy, then curdled like scrambled eggs, but this is normal. It should still come together beautifully.
Add caramel to taste, approx 1/2 cup. Pipe onto cupcakes.