Chai Spiced Vanilla Bean Muffins

Chai Spiced Vanilla Bean Muffins

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These are strange and tasty little muffins. An adult sort of taste, being Chai Spiced Vanilla Muffins, but we’ll test that theory in the morning when Nathaniel wakes up. My original plan was to make something for the kids to eat while I’m away over the next few days, but I think I’ll have to whip something else together in the morning that’s a little more kid-friendly.

The recipe suggested using almond milk and apple cider vinegar to create buttermilk, but since I already had more than enough buttermilk on hand, I skipped that step and went right to the dry ingredients.

I whisked whole wheat white flour together with baking soda, baking powder, salt, cornstarch, and the spices: cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. I used a little less cardamom and a little more cinnamon than suggested, maybe an eight of the teaspoon (less than more) of each.

dry ingredients with spices

I whisked.

dry ingredients, whisked

The next step was to beat together turbinado sugar — an unusual choice as I normally use turbinado for sprinkling on top of things — and applesauce, but I decided to use yogurt (low fat vanilla) instead of applesauce. They mixed together nicely.

yogurt and turbinado sugar

Then it was time for the star attraction in this recipe, the vanilla bean. I picked up some really nice plump ones a couple of weekends ago. I’ve reached a new point as a baker when a recipe calls for vanilla bean and I don’t have to go out to get one.

vanilla bean on plate

I like that it looks as if the plate has a mustache. I should have added little eyes and a mouth.

I sliced the bean open and scraped out the insides.

vanilla bean, scraped

I was supposed to beat that into the sugar/yogurt mixture, but it was challenging. I felt like it was still clumping. So I threw in an extra quarter teaspoon of vanilla extract, and whipped it all together as best as I could. You can still see the brown speckle of the bean, though.

mixed with bean

Now it was time to put everything together. The directions were specific about this: add the flour mixture, then add the buttermilk, then finish off with the flour mixture. I may have alternated a little more than that in the heat of the mixing moment.

adding flour


I tasted it. Good stuff. The spices were strong but so was the vanilla and the sugar. I admit, I tasted it more than once. Good sign.

I spooned it into muffin cups, distributing as evenly as I could. There wasn’t enough batter to fill them all that high, and the photos in the recipe indicated that I shouldn’t expect these muffins to puff up at all. Flat tops would prevail.

batter in tin

I baked for about 23 minutes, I think. I originally set the timer for 18 but had to keep things going a while longer. They came out very flat indeed, but smelled lovely.

mixed with bean

This should give you a sense of just how flat they were.

flat muffins

Flat! About as flat as a muffin can be.

I let them sit in the pan for another ten minutes, then moved them to a wire rack.

muffins on rack

mixed with bean

chai spiced vanilla bean muffins on rack

After a while, I ate one. (Not that much of a while.) I had a very hard time getting the paper off, but by morning, they stuck no more. And the flavor? Wonderful. A complex, layered flavor, the chai and vanilla. The chai is what lingers on your tongue afterwards, but the vanilla brings sweetness and smoothness to it. For the Weight Watchers crowd, each muffin is only 3P+.

Nathaniel just grabbed one out of the photo I was setting up (after asking nicely), took a bite, and pronounced it delicious.

chai spiced vanilla bean muffins

chai spiced vanilla bean muffins


My version of Chai Spiced Vanilla Bean Muffins (adapted from Ari’s Menu)

(serves 12)

1 1/3 cups whole wheat white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 – 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
1 vanilla bean
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Heat oven to 375. You’ll reduce the temperature later. Line or grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, salt, and all of the spices. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the yogurt and sugar and beat well. Scrape out the inside of the vanilla bean and beat in as well as you can, along with the vanilla extract.

Stir in half the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, and then the last of the flour, mixing only enough to incorporate. Pour into muffin cups.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave them in the tins for another 10 minutes, then move to a wire rack. They will be flat on top, but delicious.

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