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  • Earl Grey Cupcakes

    Not In A Pumpkin Mood? This Treat Alternative Will Still Hit The Sweet Spot

    By Christine Wei

    I love the holiday season, but there are only so many consecutive days of pumpkin spiced foods I can enjoy before I start craving some variety. So when it came time to host a party last weekend, I turned to my secret weapon for sweets: earl grey cupcakes with lemon buttercream.

    Adapted from Patent & The Pantry, these tea-licious cupcakes transform a kids favorite into a more sophisticated offering—perfect for entertaining a grown-up crowd (or kiddos with sophisticated taste!). For a strong dose of that citrusy bergamot flavor, the trick is to steep some leaves in the milk that goes into the batter. Shooting for a more subtle indulgence? Skip step 2 and use the milk straight out of your fridge.

    Note: I’ve tried this recipe with both loose leaves and leaves from tea bags. It might depend on the brand—I used Twinnings—but I found that leaves from tea bags are finer and easier to grind up.


    1 cup unsalted butter
    1 cup granulated sugar
    2 eggs
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 1/4 tsp baking powder
    3/4 tsp salt
    1/2 cup milk
    2 bags of Earl Grey tea for the batter
    2 bags of Earl Grey tea to steep in milk
    1/2 cup unsalted butter
    2 cups confectioner’s sugar
    2 tbsp lemon juice (usually one lemon)


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. In a small pot or saucepan, heat the milk on low and steep two bags of tea.
    3. Leave the milk on the stove and combine 1/2 cup butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl, until light and fluffy. If you’re beating by hand, stir the milk occasionally to prevent filming.
    4. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure they are thoroughly combined each time.
    5. Take milk off the stove and let cool.
    6. Using a knife, grind up large chunks of tea leaves into a finer powder (so you won’t be chewing on pieces of leaves). Mix leaves in another bowl with flour, baking powder, and salt.
    7. Beat half of this dry mixture into the first bowl with the wet mixture. Making sure that it’s cool, stir in the milk and the rest of the dry mixture until just combined.
    8. Line a cupcake pan with 12 tins, filling them evenly with batter. Bake about 20 minutes.
    9. In the meantime, cream the other 1/2 cup of butter and beat in confectioner’s sugar until fluffy.
    10. Add lemon juice and beat until smooth. Spread over cupcakes after they’ve completely cooled.

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