12 black tea bags or 1/4 c. loose black tea leaves
1 1/2 c. unsalted butter (3 sticks)
1 1/2 c. maple syrup
1 1/2 c. whole milk
For the Cupcake Batter
4 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. sea salt
6 large egg, at room temperature, whisked
For the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
24 oz (3 packages) cream cheese, at room temp
3/4 c. (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
1/3 c. maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3.5 c. powdered sugar
For the Maple Whipped Cream
3 c. heavy cream
1/3 c. maple syrup
Make the Chai Cake:
Prepare the cake pans – grease three 9″ cake pans and line the bottoms with a parchment paper round. Preheat the oven to 350F.
Heat the spices, butter, maple syrup and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the butter is completely melted. Remove from heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Remove the anise and tea bags, or if using loose leaf black tea run the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Pour contents into the bowl of a stand mixer.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, whisking with a fork to combine.
Add the whisked eggs to the cooled chai mixture and mix on medium until combined.
Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing on low until just combined. Scrape sides of bowl between each addition.
Divide the cake batter equally between prepared cake pans. I use a kitchen scale because I’ve found that I’m miserable at eyeballing it. Tap the pans gently to level the mixture.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes then transfer from pans to wire rack to cool completely.
Make the Maple Cream cheese Frosting
Beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth.
Add the maple syrup and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Add the cinnamon and powdered sugar and beat on medium-low speed until thoroughly combined.
Make the Maple Whipped Cream
Beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Whisk in the maple syrup.
Assemble the Cake
Use a serrated knife to level the cakes (remove the domed tops).
Using an offset spatula, spread half the maple cream cheese icing evenly over the surface of one of the cooled cake layers. Top with another cake layer and repeat. Top with the last cake layer, making sure that the unleveled side is facing up (so there are fewer crumbs).
Clean your offset spatula and use it to evenly spread out the maple whipped cream. I used the remaining maple whipped cream frosting, a pastry bag and a large closed star piping tip to pipe small stars around the border of the cake. If you run out of frosting you may have to whip up a bit more.
Dust cake with ground cinnamon to finish.
Transfer to cake platter (this tool is a lifesaver) and serve!