Hokkaido Milk Tea Cupcakes

Hokkaido cupcakes are a popular dessert in Asia typically made by piping custard cream into a light chiffon cupcake. Custard can be a bit of a hassle to make sometimes, so I like to just use whipped cream thickened with a dash of instant pudding powder that also helps to stabilize the cream. Because both the cupcake and filling are very light, you can easily infuse either with other flavours – tea is a great choice because the slight natural bitterness prevents the cupcake from being overly sweet and combined with the cream is like taking a bite of milk tea. I used regular black tea (English breakfast) here but you could also use Earl Grey, oolong, or even something floral like rose tea. Just be sure to let the milk and cream cool completely overnight or it won’t whip properly.

Ingredients (makes 6 large or 9 standard cupcakes)

Cupcake

  • 45g milk tea (80g milk + 1 teabag black tea)
  • 40g egg yolk
  • 20g sugar
  • 30g oil
  • 50g flour
  • 10g cornstarch
  • 1 teabag black tea (loose)
  • 130g egg whites
  • 40g sugar

Filling

  • 250g heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teabag black tea
  • 15g sugar
  • 1 tsp instant vanilla pudding powder

Directions

  1. First prepare the milk tea. Place one teabag into a small saucepan with the milk and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. Do the same with the heavy whipping cream and another teabag.
  3. Allow both the milk and cream mixtures to cool overnight in the fridge. Make sure to keep the teabags as well in order to allow the tea flavour to better infuse.
  4. Preheat the oven to 330F and prepare some baking cups. You can use either stiff cardboard baking cups on their own or use paper liners in a standard muffin tin. Do not use a greased muffin tin on its own.
  5. Whisk the egg yolks with 20g of sugar until pale and thick. Whisk in the oil and 45g of the milk tea mixture.
  6. Sift the flour, cornstarch and loose tea into the egg yolk mixture. Fold together with a spatula until thoroughly combined and set aside.
  7. In a clean mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add 40g sugar and continue whisking until the whites reach stiff peaks. It’s best not to go above medium speed with your egg beaters as this helps prevent over-whisking and also forms smaller air bubbles that make the meringue more stable.
  8. Fold the egg whites into the remaining batter in thirds. Be gentle here as you don’t want to deflate the egg whites but also make sure the batter is homogenous – you should not see streaks of white.
  9. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking cups. Bang the cups on the table a few times to release any large air pockets, then bake at 330F for 20 – 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely before filling.
  10. Meanwhile, make the whipped cream filling. Strain the tea infused cream into a clean, cold bowl and add 15g sugar. Whisk the cream until soft peaks form.
  11. Whisk in the instant pudding powder. You should see the cream stiffen and start to clump together a little. This step is optional, but it helps to stabilize the cream and create a firmer texture.
  12. Place the whipped cream into a piping bag with a large, open star tip (Wilton 1M or similar size). Place the tip in the centre of the cupcake and gently pipe in the cream, rotating the cupcake as you do so. The cupcake should start to puff up. Finish off with a swirl of cream on the top.

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