I made this up myself by looking at a few different from-scratch white cake recipes, piecing together the parts I liked and thought would chemically work, then throwing in my own flavorings. I do this sometimes and I'm not entirely sure how I get by with it--I haven't had any dramatic failures yet. It's not a good policy unless you know what your ingredients do, and my mother has taught me well on that front.
These in particular turned out exceptionally delicious--the perfect thing to have with earl grey tea or hot cider when the cold weather is giving you no incentive to leave the house. They use some unusual ingredients, but this is the Spice House web site, and don't we all like to experiment here?
~40 cupcakes for me. Your cupcake size will vary; mine were rather small.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix shortening, eggs, sugar, vanilla, anise, liqueur, and milk. Stop mixer, and add flour, baking powder and salt; mix in evenly. Line a cupcake tin with liners. Use a cookie disher to scoop batter into cupcake liners.
Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.
Mix all ingredients in a bowl until smooth.
Adjust with milk/powdered sugar until it's a nice consistency and flavor. Frosting is optional with these, as they don't exactly need it. If you really like your liqueur, you can throw a bit of that in as well.
A few words about several of the ingredients, and substitutions for them.
*Whole (or broken) star anise is strong stuff, so don't go overboard with it. If you are using aniseed instead of star anise, you will want to use more than the number I gave for ground star anise.
*Orange liqueur is not to be feared; my proportions using this recipe came out fine, although my cupcakes were smaller and therefore had more surface area for the alcohol to dissipate. Orange bitters could be substituted, albeit in much smaller proportions, and it would be much easier to go overboard, so add very carefully. This is a good excuse for tasting your cake batter.
*For vanilla, the recipe assumes you're using single strength. I liked the Madagascar vanilla in them, although Tahitian vanilla wouldn't be out of place. It won't matter terribly; use what you have. Unless what you have is vanilla *flavoring.* Stay away from that sludge; go buy something decent, or leave it out.
This recipe was provided by Rebekah Y from Davenport