Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Eggnog Buttercream

Sleigh Ride by Spice Girls
I acquired this song in my music library simply because it was on a CD of various artists.  I was in a Virgin Music Store back in the 90s while on vacation in Arizona.  It was holiday time and I was enjoying some music playing over the store's stereo system.  I tracked down the CD that they were playing and bought it without really looking to see who all was on there.  Once back out in the rental car, I loaded that CD, put the car in reverse, and was prepared to enjoy this new music.  The intro was one I hadn't heard in the store but it sounded pleasant enough.  And then they started singing!  What ?!  Who is this?  I grabbed the CD case and read "Spice Girls."  Oh, come on!  Seriously?  Well, I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want - and that's for no Spice Girls in my holidays!  Nonetheless - it stayed in the CD player.  And during that vacation - and when I got back home - I never once could bring myself to skip that track!  And you know why?  Because it grew on me!  And, before that holiday season was through, I was addicted to this song that clearly conveyed that these Spice Girls were thoroughly enjoying a sleigh ride.  And the real grabber was the laugh at the end and the British greeting of "Happy Christmas!"  Ring-a-ling-a-ling-a-ding-dong-ding!  A guilty pleasure!  Like Eggnog Buttercream hitching a ride on top of Gingerbread Cupcakes!

It's gingerbread time again!  Cookies, cakes, puddings!  Bring it on!  

Ginger is a decadent spice.  It's loud in its volume and sultry in its allure.  Think Gilligan's Island - the "Ginger or MaryAnn" debate.  Most guys opt for Ginger because she's sexy.  I happen to think that ginger - the spice - has that same appeal.

Most gingerbreads and ginger cakes have a dense consistency.  But I was looking for something with more air and fluff.  That's just my preference for a cupcake.  So I made some adjustments to my Pumpkin Spice Cupcake recipe and came up with these beautiful girls.  

I did not want a heavy cloying frosting but I did want another holiday flavor going on here - like eggnog!  Can any of you out there drink a glass of eggnog straight?  I can't.  It's too sweet and heavy.  I take my husband's lead and dilute it with milk - and skim milk at that!  I thought if I just replaced the cream in my buttercream frosting with straight eggnog, it might give me the texture and flavor I was looking for.  I ended up adding an extra tablespoon of eggnog to loosen up the consistency to make it a little more airy.  Perfect!

To complete the eggnog element, I dusted the tops with freshly zested nutmeg, using a whole nutmeg from the spice section at my grocery store and a zester.  
If you've never done this, you MUST!  Freshly grated nutmeg is a euphoric aroma!  I swoon!  

I digress!

What you end up with is, basically, a piece of ginger cake with a glass of eggnog!  A sweet holiday ending to any meal!

Gingerbread Cupcakes
makes 16
Printable Recipe Card
2 c. cake flour (274 g)
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. cloves
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened (113 g)
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar (110 g)
2 eggs
1/2 c. unsulphured molasses
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Fill muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt.  Whisk well.  Set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy - 3 - 5 minutes - scraping the bowl and paddle often.  Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each before adding the next.  Add the molasses and mix to combine.  Scrape the bowl and paddle.

Combine the buttermilk and vanilla.  Set aside.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture and mix on low just until it starts to come together.  Do not over mix - this process goes rather quickly!

Add half of the buttermilk mixture and mix just until it starts to come together.  Again - do not over mix.

Add half of the remaining dry ingredients.  Mix just until it starts to combine.

Add the remaining buttermilk mixture - mix lightly.

Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix just until it starts to combine.  Finish mixing with the spatula.

Fill cupcake liners HALF FULL with the batter.  This is important so you don't get the batter erupting out of the liners and all over your oven!  This cake is light and fluffy - not dense.  The batter needs room to create all of the fluffy texture!

Bake for 20 minutes.  Rotate the tray for the last 5 minutes.

Cool and frost with the Eggnog Buttercream Frosting.  Dust the tops with freshly grated nutmeg!
Eggnog Buttercream Frosting
Printable Recipe Card
1 c. unsalted butter, softened (227 g)
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar (410 g)
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 c. eggnog

Cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixer bowl until very light and fluffy - 3 - 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla extract, nutmeg, and eggnog and mix until well combined.  This frosting is on the wet or loose side yet still holds a shape.  If you prefer a more firm frosting, increase the powdered sugar by 1/2 c. (60 g)


  1. Oh heaven.

    But I laugh because of this line: "Ginger is a decadent spice. It's loud in its volume and sultry in its allure."

    Instead of sultry I read "slutty" and then kept reading about Ginger from Gilligan's Island.

    Yup. I need my head examined.