12 days until Christmas all you foodie lovers. Boy has time flown by this year. I hope you’ve all finished your crazy gift shopping and can relax and enjoy the next week and a half unlike myself lol. This week I have taken a break from the hunt for unique Christmas cookies and decided to bring you a post about another holiday favorite… the classic Gingerbread. Now I could have just done the typical gingerbread cookie to stick with my cookie themed posts for the holidays but what fun would that be. Gingerbread cookies are classics not unique additions to the confection table so I switched it up a bit and put a twist on both the Gingerbread cookie and cake formulas I had found, turning it into a kid-friendly holiday table-snatch recipe as much as those quaint little gingerbread men (& women) are.
Now I love the flavor of gingerbread, especially in coffee, but I have never been a huge fan of the cookies. This is usually because they are always dry and either too bland or too overwhelming spicy, as if I poured an entire jar of powdered ginger and cinnamon in my mouth. ICK!!! If the original gingerbread formulas tend to be so consistently bad, how in the world then could I expect to translate a dry, dull cookie into a moist mini cake full of bold ginger flavor? Let me tell you it is a challenge but not impossible and totally worth it!!!
To start the Gingerbread makeover, something had to be added which could compliment the flavor of ginger without overwhelming it. I wanted a bold and spicy mini cake that wasn’t dried out and dusty on the palette. Step one is, surprisingly, to find a good stout. Reason is, stout provides a malty tang that compliments the molasses already in standard gingerbread formulas. I chose to use Weyerbacher Old Heather Imperial, which is a unique brand found at Whole Foods, but I recommend Guinness as well since it’s an affordable and widely available stout. Buy yourself a 6 pack and drink one (or a few) as a reward once you finish baking ;) If your against using alcohol, which I know many people out there are, you can substitute coffee for the stout although I don’t recommend it as it does impart a bitter flavor as opposed to the perfect compliment of the stout. Another substitute often used is orange juice but that is far too sour in my opinion… but hey if you don’t like alcohol and love to experiment then go ahead and try it. You may fancy it.
With the stout adding a complimentary flavor and much needed moisture to the cake, it was time to turn to the spicy portion of the formula. Too much powdered or ground spice will give an undesirable dusty texture I was trying to avoid at all costs. So I stuck to a reasonable amount of ground ginger for bite and a little cinnamon and allspice to support the ginger flavor. Without the abundance of ground ginger the flavor lacks. Using black pepper and blooming it with the other powdered spices helps draw out the ginger’s pleasant burn without having to increase the powdered spices further. An additional punch of ginger is added with some grated fresh ginger and viola ginger is back in gingerbread!!!
On to the frosting. I needed something simple and delicious that wouldn’t distract to heavily from the bold, spicy ginger flavor I worked so hard to achieve and was going to without a doubt make sure I maintained. Cheesecake came to mind and seemed to fit that bill with ease. Three ingredients and a bit of whipping provided me with the perfect Cheesecake frosting to pipe onto the gingerbread cupcakes. The formula produces approximately 24 cupcakes. Try them for the holidays. Even the gingerbread skeptic like myself will find them a delight!!!
Spicy Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cheesecake Frosting
- 2 ½ cups Cake Flour
- 2 tsp. Baking Powder
- ¾ tsp. Baking Soda
- ¾ tsp. Salt
- 16 tbsp. Unsalted Butter (2 sticks)
- 2 tbsp. Ground Ginger
- 2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
- 1 tsp. Ground Allspice
- ¼ tsp. Black Pepper, finely ground
- 4 Eggs, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups Sugar
- 4 tsp. Fresh Ginger, grated
- ¾ cup Molasses, Robust or Dark
- ¾ cup Stout Beer
- 1 pkg. Instant Cheesecake Flavored Pudding (small box)
- 1 pkg. Cool Whip
Gingerbread Cake Formula:
- Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat to 375°. Fill a cupcake/muffin tin with cupcake liners. Grease lightly with cooking spray. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat until bubbling. Stir in ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Whisk eggs, sugar, and fresh ginger in a large bowl until light and frothy. Stir in the melted butter/spice mixture, molasses, and stout until incorporated. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and whisk until no lumps remain.
- Pour the gingerbread batter into the prepared cupcake liners. Gently tap the pan on the counter to release any trapped air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean (a few clingy crumbs is perfect), about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Cheesecake Frosting Formula:
- Empty contents of instant Cheesecake Pudding mix into a medium bowl. Add half the amount of milk called for according to the package directions. Whip until the pudding thickens and begins to set, about two minutes. Gently fold in the container of cool whip. Fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and serve.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY
RECIPE ADAPTED FROM ERIKA BRUCE