Holiday Baking: Gingerbread Cupcakes

As I've said elsewhere, I think the cupcake craze is due for a market correction and if it weren't for bacon, it'd be the most annoying food fad of the last decade. That said, I have nothing against cupcakes themselves, and they're a great choice for home baking because the portion size is set at the time of creation.

I was going to make gingerbread–not gingerbread cookies, but the dark, molasses-rich cake that is the original gingerbread–and my daughter asked me if we could make cupcakes instead. There's no reason we couldn't. Cupcakes are just cakes baked in cups (or cup-analogues, like a muffin tin).

I adapted the Joy of Cooking recipe, because I found the molasses flavor was overwhelming in the original, and due to the fact that I use whole spices, the spice mix used caused the ginger to overpower the rest of the ingredients. The frosting is a standard whipped cream cheese frosting, which you can use for everything from carrot cake to cinnamon rolls.



1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. freshly-ground dried ginger (increase to 1 Tbsp. if using pre-ground ginger powder)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 egg
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup boiling water
3 Tbsp. chopped crystallized ginger


1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

2. Place cupcake liners in a muffin tin (this will make about 16 small cakes), or butter and flour the muffin tin.

3. Sift the flour, baking soda, spices and salt together.

4. Beat the butter in a bowl until creamy.

5. Add the egg and sugar to the butter and beat until smooth (3 minutes in a stand mixer).

6. Beat in the molasses and honey.

7. Sift the flour mixture over the wet mixture and stir slowly until just incorporated.

8. Stir in the water and crystallized ginger.

9. Fill the cupcake liners; the cake is dense, so you can fill them nearly full.

10. Bake 15-20 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. They will have a divot in the center; this is normal.

11. Let cool until you can comfortably hold the tin, then remove (run a paring knife around the outside of each cake if you haven't used cupcake liners).

12. Let cool completely before frosting.



1 pound cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar (measured by dipping the cup and sweeping it flat)
Zest of half a lemon, minced as fine as you can
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.


1. Whip the cheese with a mixer until it is creamy.

2. Put the speed on low and gradually mix in the sugar, lemon zest and vanilla.

3. Beat, scraping down as required, for 2-3 minutes until it is spreadable and uniform.

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