Frosting for the Cause

I am so honored to be guest posting over at Frosting for the Cause today! This is such an amazing project: bloggers uniting to raise money and awareness for cancer.  With so many people being affected by cancer more and more every year, it’s great to know we can all help.  Please consider donating to my favorite cancer charity: St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Have a cup of tea, and enjoy the cupcakes!

{Frosting for the Cause Post}:

Jackie’s Vanilla Chai-Tea Cupcakes

If you haven’t already met Jackie of La Casa de Sweets then you are in for a treat!  With barely a year of blogging under her *apron* this young mother and middle school teacher has already been featured on Foodista, Taste SpottingDessert Stalking and the LA Times (there’s more too).  Her crisp, precise and beautifully photographed blog is a pleasure to read and her drop down category menu just further entices one to click on every section.  As passionate as Jackie is about baking and cooking, her involvement in supporting hunger relief organizations is very near and dear to her heart.   She currently, very proudly supports four such organizations and utilizes her baking and cooking site to further educate, promote and raise awareness for the need to help end world hunger.  I am so pleased that she is here today sharing her story and recipe with us.  You can follow Jackie on Twitter @lacasadesweets

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What an amazing project this is. I can’t think of a better way to get bloggers and food-lovers from around the world together than this project. As soon as I heard about Frosting for the Cause, I knew I had to be a part of it. Not only do I love baking, blogging, and connecting with readers from all over, but this is where my true calling lies: baking for a higher cause. My blog readers and I are trying to do everything we can to help make the world a better place, and this will definitely help! Thank you, Paula, for all you’ve done to get us all together. You are amazing.

Cancer. No one wants to hear that word, in any context. Unfortunately, we’ve all heard that word too many times, about too many people. We’ve heard it a lot in my family, too. My great-aunt died from it, my mother-in-law and grandmother survived it (praise God!), and several family members, including my mom, have had cancer scares throughout the years. And, then, there was my Titi Eva…

My Titi Eva was my dad’s aunt, and the closest relative we had while I was growing up. We would go visit her and my uncle for the weekend once a month. We’d get in the car and drive the few hours to their home in Virginia. It was my absolute favorite thing to do. I spent so much time with her during my childhood, I actually thought she was my grandmother until I was about 10 or 12 years old!

She was the most poised, elegant, fun, humble, loving person I have ever known. Everyone loved her. And, she loved everyone right back. Her eyes were always shining bright with love, and her arms open for a hug. I never heard her say anything negative, about anyone. If something bad happened, she would just say, “Don’t worry. It’s ok.”

She taught me so many things. Things I didn’t even know were important until later in life, when she was already gone. Thank God I listened. She taught me to be honest with myself, and that all girls are beautiful. And that every woman needs a little black dress…and a smile. It’s because of her that I became a teacher, and it’s because of her that I pray I will be a good person, a good woman, a good mother.

She also passed on something else: her love of tea! Every weekend we visited her, as soon as we had unpacked our things, my Titi Eva would make some tea, and my mom, sister, and I would sit down with her at the table and have our very own tea party. We’d talk about things, people we created, events we wanted to attend, and we would have a blast. She remembered every conversation we had, every imaginary friend my sister and I came up with. And we’d go back for more, every time. Until, one day, we couldn’t anymore.

The cancer spread so quickly, most of us didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye to her. I wrote her a letter, and my dad read it to her, and he said she smiled, which makes me happy. She died on my dad’s birthday.

She didn’t get to see me in my wedding dress, or see my face glow with joy when I told my family I named my oldest daughter after her, Natalia Eva, so there would be another Eva in the family. She won’t be here to see my daughters grow up, or to see me teaching in a classroom. But, you know what? It doesn’t matter. I know she would be proud. I know she would be happy. And, I know she would smile and say, “Don’t worry. It’s ok.”

In her honor, I’ve made Vanilla Chai-Tea Cupcakes, which are just perfect with a nice cup of tea. They are rich and have a hint of spice behind every bite, sweetened with a delicate icing. Thanks for joining my little tea party. Have a cupcake, and smile: every day is a blessing, and so are you!


Vanilla Chai-Tea Cupcake Recipe

Makes 12 cupcakes. Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.



¾ cup milk

2 black tea bags

2 cups flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

¼ teaspoon ground pepper

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of nutmeg

½ stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ cup dark brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla


½ stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup, plus 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

¾ cup powdered sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tray with paper liners, and set aside.

2. In a microwave safe bowl, heat the milk for 1-2 minutes, or until very hot. Add the tea bags, and let them steep for 15 minutes. Remove the tea bags, and let the milk cool completely.

3. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and spices. I asked my trusty assistant to help; my 2 year old is my favorite baking buddy!

4. With an electric mixer, on medium-high speed, mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add in the eggs, one at a time.

5. On low, add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the tea-infused milk.

6. Pour the batter into the muffin cups, about 2/3 full.

7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cupcakes are lightly golden. Let cool completely before frosting.

8. To make the frosting, whisk the butter and condensed milk with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth. Whisk in the powdered sugar, ¼ at a time. Whisk on high speed for 1-2 minutes, until the icing is thick and smooth. Dip the cupcakes into the icing, and let set.


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Comments (3)

  • Alexa 12 years ago Reply

    I wish I had had the opportunity to meet Titi Eva. She sounds like such a wonderful person. I lost my aunt to colon cancer 6 years ago, so I understand how important it is to support cancer research. Thank you for all those who have participated and will participate in Frosting for the Cause and those who bake for or support any cause. Every day is a

  • Ausma 12 years ago Reply

    What an amazing story… I am blessed to know you and to see a glimpse of Titi Eva in you. You are such a joy… I know she would be very proud of you. i raise my cup of tea… cheers! xo

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