Fresh Gingerbread Cupcakes
All the warm flavors of the holiday season packed into one bitesize cupcake.
It took me five tries to get this recipe right. Call it determination. Call it my love for all things sweet. Through my mission to master gingerbread, I implemented a variety of ingredient adjustments and ratio adjustments to tweak the taste to my liking. While I appreciate the sticky, spiciness of gingerbread, there are somethings that just don’t sit well with me- that remind me of a fruitcake that everyone serves at Christmas, but that no one actually likes… do they? So my goal was to #bringbackgingerbread.
The first gingerbread recipe I tried had a larger amount of flour than most other recipes, which resulted in a dry cupcake. While the cream cheese frosting drew attention away from this blatant flaw, I wasn’t satisfied. I began by replacing the butter in the recipe for oil- for a tender crumb. The product was a sticky, dense mass. Flavorful? Yes. But not an appropriate texture for a cupcake, known for fragility and delicacy. Finally, the cupcake I was pleased with consisted of less flour, more liquid, butter and of course, fresh ginger. I find it strange how people can give this cake the name of ‘gingerbread’ without any ginger- especially when ginger is such a pungent, rich root, adding the perfect amount of smell and flavor to a dish.
It is important to note that most gingerbread recipes call for molasses, a thick, syrupy liquid made from sugarcane. Molasses is often added to granulated sugar to make brown sugar because it adds that slight caramel flavor. It is dense and gives the cupcakes a rich earthiness. In the UK, molasses is known as black treacle. For my friends living in Poland, you can buy treacle at Kuchnie Świata or online at Allegro.pl, but if you want to look for a more local version, look for “Melasa” or “Syrop Trzcinowy” – it is pretty widely available.
These cupcakes pair beautifully with the lemon-infused cream cheese icing. They have a tender crumb and just the right amount of ginger. If you’re looking for something to make for Christmas or New Year’s, look no further.
Fresh Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cupcakes:
- ½ cup (110 g) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ (100 g) cup sugar (brown, granulated or Demerara all work great)
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup (120 mL) molasses or black treacle
- 3 tbsp (50 g) freshly grated ginger, packed
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 2/3 cup (160 mL) Guinness (water or buttermilk can be substituted for a non-alcoholic version)
- 1 and 1/3 cup (170 g) all-purpose flour
For the icing:
- ½ cup (110 g) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup (110 g) cream cheese (a firm kind, try to avoid an easily spreadable one)
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups (240 g) icing sugar
To make the cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180 C and line a 12-cup muffin tray with cupcake liners.
- In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add in the egg and molasses and continue to blend.
- Stir in the ginger, making sure to mix well so that it is evenly distributed throughout the batter.
- Toss in the cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Alternate the Guinness and the flour in three batches, starting with the Guinness and ending with the flour. The mixture will clump slightly, but it will come together once everything is incorporated.
- Spoon the batter into the muffin liners. Using an ice-cream scoop to do this ensures even amounts of batter for each cupcake.
- Bake for roughly 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Cool completely before frosting.
To make the icing:
- Beat together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy.
- Add the lemon and continue to mix.
- Slowly add in the confectioners’ sugar, tasting to ensure good flavor. You may add less based on the texture of the sugar- the more sugar you add, the less stiff cream cheese icing becomes. 1 ½ to 2 cups is perfect for me.
- Finally, blend in the vanilla extract.
- For a fancy finish, spoon the icing into a piping bag, snip off the end and pipe dollops of frosting atop the beautifully browned cupcake.
- Top with crumbled up cupcake or sprinkles.
Other holiday favorites:
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