Hello, cupcake!

December 20, 2009 at 1:17 AM | Posted in Recipe | Leave a comment

Gingerbread cupcake with cream cheese frosting

Phew.

After a looong semester, followed by an intense finals week, I am officially (mostly) free from school obligations until…well, let’s not get into that now. The important thing is that, as of Thursday at 4:32 pm when I e-mailed in my last take-home exam, I was officially on vacation!

The past few days have been a happy blur of decidedly non-academic fun. Thursday night a friend and I went to see the Nutcracker at the Boston Ballet. Yesterday (after staying in my PJs until 2pm) I met some friends from school for drinks, met a friend for dinner, and then went to another friend’s Christmas party. And today, after one of my friend’s a cappella groups sang a concert in Coolidge Corner, I had a bunch of people over to my apartment for the first totally guilt-free lazy Saturday afternoon in a long time.

It was so great to have the time to make things for the party. I made homemade baguettes and ciabatta, hummus with cumin seeds and pine nuts, a deliciously sweet-spicy pretzel and nut mix, mulled wine, and gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I had made King Arthur Flour’s gingerbread recipe a few months ago, and when I tasted its deep-dark spiciness and moistness, I thought that the perfect crown would be a swirl of cream cheese frosting, and that it might take well to cupcake form. So with a little experimentation on baking time, last-minute substitution for an unexpected molasses deficit, and some trolling the internet for a cream cheese frosting recipe, I came up with this winning combo. Not only was it super tasty, but I have to say that it’s one of the prettiest-looking desserts I’ve ever made.

GINGERBREAD CUPCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Cupcakes (adapted from King Arthur Flour Company):

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used kefir)

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with foil wrappers and spray insides of wrappers lightly with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Melt butter in a heatproof measuring cup.  Add molasses and fresh ginger, and beat to combine.  Pour into dry ingredients and mix until moistened.  Add water and stir until incorporated.

Whisk together egg and buttermilk (I did it in the measuring cup, to save one dish). Stir into batter until evenly combined. (optionally, here you can stir in 1/2 cup chopped candied ginger. While I loved this idea, the thought of chopping sticky uncrystallized candied ginger–all I had–was quite unappealing, so I left it out)

Fill each muffin wrapper with about 1/4 cup batter (there will be some left over, probably about one cupcakes’ worth. Just a note, the batter is excellent raw. Not that I would know).  Bake cupcakes for about 20 minutes, until centers are set and a cake tester comes out clean.  When done, remove from muffin tin and let cool on wire rack.  When completely cool, frost with cream cheese frosting (recipe below).

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 8-ounce block cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, or more to taste

Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese until completely combined and fluffy.  Add vanilla and beat until combined.  Add confectioner’s sugar 1/2 cup at a time, until reaches desired sweetness. I thought it was just right with 2 cups sugar, but you could add up to 3.  Put frosting in fridge to chill until ready to frost cupcakes.

To frost, cut the top off a 1-gallon zip-top plastic bag.  Put the bag inside a drinking glass and fold the remaining bag over the edge of a glass, securing with a rubber band or, um, hair elastic.  Spoon frosting into bag, smushing down to get out air pockets.  When cup is full, remove bag from glass, squeeze to push frosting into the corner of the bag, and snip off the corner.  Swirl each cupcake with frosting and put in the fridge to set frosting. Before serving, dust each cupcake with cinnamon and a little piece of crystallized or uncrystallized candied ginger.

And the bread baking adventure continues--ciabatta and baguettes (another King Arthur Flour recipe)

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