To me, it doesn’t really feel like the holidays until I’ve baked a batch of gingerbread cookies. I’ve been making them for years and have always been drawn to their sweet, spicy flavors. I also love the history of gingerbread, which dates back to the Middle Ages when women presented spiced cakes to knights before tournaments.
This year I wanted to translate my love of gingerbread into cupcake form for a friend’s holiday party. But I was slightly hesitant – while I love gingerbread cookies, I haven’t been as big a fan of gingerbread cake. Maybe it’s that I love the cookie’s texture too much; a well-baked gingerbread cookie should be slightly crisp on the outside, but a little soft on the inside. Somehow the spice combination seems too rich and dark for a cake.
Still, I was pretty pleased with this recipe that I found on Epicurious. But those with hot ovens, be warned – I actually burnt the first batch of these. I’ve found that some recipes can stand up to my hot oven rather well, but these were a bit too delicate the first time round.
I actually really liked the lemon-cream cheese frosting that this recipe calls for, but I’m not sure how well the lemon paired with the gingerbread. If I were to make them again I think I would do regular cream cheese frosting. But for those of you looking for a light lemony icing, I highly recommend this recipe (note: I left out the crystallized ginger, which was just too fancy for my taste. I opted for M&Ms instead).
Recipe from Epicurious.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 teaspoon baking soda
Into a bowl sift together the flour, the ground ginger, the cinnamon, the cloves, the allspice, and the salt. In another bowl cream 1/2 stick of the butter, add the granulated sugar, and beat the mixture until it is fluffy. Beat in the molasses and the egg, beating until the mixture is smooth. In a measuring cup combine the baking soda with 1/2 cup boiling water and stir the mixture to dissolve the baking soda. Stir the mixture into the molasses mixture (the mixture will appear curdled) and stir the molasses mixture into the flour mixture, stirring to combine the ingredients well. Line twelve 1/2-cup muffin tins with paper liners and spoon the batter into the liners, filling them halfway. Bake the cupcakes in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. (The cupcakes will be flat or slightly indented on top.) Transfer the cupcakes to a rack and let them cool.
Lemon Cream-Cheese Frosting
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
In a bowl cream together the cream cheese, and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, add the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla, and beat the mixture until it is fluffy and smooth. Beat in the zest and the lemon juice and chill the frosting for 30 minutes. Spread the frosting on the cupcakes and top each cupcake with some of the crystallized ginger.