Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Five spice is a classic Chinese condiment that embodies the 5 main senses of taste - salty, sour, sweet, savory, and bitter. A unique flavor profile if you haven't had it before and tastes great on meat dishes. The main combination consists of cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, cloves, and ginger root though some have been known to switch out ginger for Szechuan pepper or cassia buds instead of cloves.

Regardless of the mix, it all pairs beautifully with chocolate. These cupcakes utilize high quality, high cacao percentage chocolate for a very dark bittersweet taste, which acts as the perfect backdrop for the full bloom of flavors from the five spice powder.

The five spice cream cheese is also spiked with a bit of ground ginger for a bit more oomph. It's definitely a tasty treat that's familiar and exotically fragrant.

Rob really liked this one and wanted them again, however I was busy and out of chocolate and eggs. Plus, pay day was still a whiles away (goddammit). So I did what anyone would do. I cheated. I used devil's food box mix, which is fine and tastes great too. It's a lot fluffier as box mix tends to be, so if that's the texture you want or want to save some time go this way. Both recipes are below.

Serving them with a small bit of candied ginger is a nice touch and a great way to finish off an Asian inspired meal for friends and family. This cupcake is by far one of my top favorites, and once you try it, I'm sure you'll agree.

Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Cupcakes
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

What You'll Need...
200 grams of bar chocolate 62-70% cacao (Scharffen Berger is wonderful)
3 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
8 eggs
1-1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder 70% cacao
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of Chinese Five Spice powder

What You'll Do...
1) Chop chocolate and transfer into the bowl of a standing mixer, add the butter to the chocolate and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water (a double boiler works great too). Stir until chocolate melts and combined with the butter.

2) Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes to thicken.

3) Place the bowl back into the mixer and beat at medium speed for 3 minutes.

4) Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds before adding the next.

5) Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and a pinch of salt into the mixture and mix until just blended.

6) Scoop into cupcake papers and bake at 350F for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Be sure to rotate the pan after the first 15 minutes to ensure even baking.

5 Spice Cream Cheese Frosting
What You'll Need...
1 8oz. package of cream cheese
1/4 cup of butter
3-4 cups of powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice

1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger

What You'll Do...
1) Cream the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes. Scraped down the sides and bottom.

2) Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the ginger and five spice. Spread on cooled cupcakes. Decorated with chopped candied ginger.

Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Cupcakes (Box Mix Version)
one 18.25 oz package of devil's food or dark chocolate cake mix
1 1/3 cups of water
1/2 cup of oil

3 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons of Chinese Five Spice powder

Combine all ingredients together and mix for about two minutes at medium speed. Place in cupcake papers and bake at 350F for 19-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.


  1. That looks fabulous!

  2. Stop! You're klling me.

    Actually, Darling, I'm tagging you for a meme - if you haven't done it already (or maybe, like me, you might just do it twice?).

    Five Spice Chocolate Kisses,

  3. I love the idea of chocolate and five-spice; I've never combined them, but I can imagine the taste. Must bake some of these cupcakes.

  4. I LOOOOOVVVEE all your cupcakes!

  5. These look and sound just perfect, not too sweet, I am dreaming about not too sweet cupcakes at the moment.

  6. OMG! they are so lovely. Such a unique combination... an oriental taste in a western way. Love at a first sight.

  7. Totally intrigued. I can't wait until I have a cool night to bake these!

  8. Oh yum! I love using five spice in desserts. I recently made a particularly kick ass crisp with apples, pears and strawberries that rocked the five spice pretty hard. But five spice with chocolate and frosting is definitely something I want to try soon!

  9. I don't prefer box cake mix...I know you don't either...but you're really doing an excellent job of mixing it up. It's nice to have a quick and easy on hand!

  10. prissy - ah yes, i agree. box mix is evil to me, but I keep some on hand, for that "just in case" moment where I need baked goods but don;t have time or ingredients for anything else.

  11. They look delicious!

  12. Just tried this recipe and It was delish! In fact- I've tried many of your recipes and I'm in love with your cupcakes;o) Next is the pumpkin curry one. But a question,
    is the Vosges candy worth $7.00 a bar? Should I try it at least once?
    And those red fire chips at $8.50? They sound good but so are your chipolte, cinnamon cupcakes.

  13. Meg - In my opinion, no. Are some of their flavors worth trying though? Yes. Great for a treat but way to expensive for baking. As for the chips, I think you can make something pretty comparable using your own spice rack at home.

  14. Love 5-spice!
    I think these flavors would go beautifully together.
    Thank you for posting this recipe. Excited to try it :)

  15. Hi. I made these - something is missing somewhere. The cake was so dry it was not edible. Is there supposed to be some other liquid in it?

  16. Anon: My guess is that you overbaked them a bit.

  17. Baked them for 17 minutes. A full five minutes less than the recipe calls for. Don't think that's the issue.

  18. Annonymous: Not sure then, this chocolate cupcake base has never been dry for me.

  19. Annony: You can always add a tablespoon of milk or sugar to increase the moisture content.


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