Gingerbread Season

I’ve started to live by the motto “so many recipes, so little time” (written by me), and it’s so true. I’ve been pretty excited about these cupcakes since the weather started to grow cooler, and the moment I bring them into work to share, I see an even cooler idea that would have enhanced them-adding an orange kick to the frosting. I knew it…I KNEW when I looked into my cabinet that morning and saw orange extract next to the vanilla that it would have been an interesting twist…but instead of branching out, I stuck to the basic. Damn you Barefoot Contessa for not showing me this recipe earlier! I like Emeril’s recipe better, but I drifted from his to use a basic cream cheese frosting rather than his spiced creme anglaise (also with orange!). Ugh…there will always be time next year to do it that way…probably. When you love food this much, you’re bound to be drawn toward every interesting recipe you find…there is just never enough time!

So, here is what I brought to the table for a Christmas contribution at work-Emeril’s Gingerbread, made with turbinado sugar (a fancy, more natural, raw brown sugar), Guinness, and molasses, and I made it into cupcake form with (basic) cream cheese frosting.

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

For the Cupcakes

  •  1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup Guinness (or other dark beer…but unless you can think of something more heavenly, stick with Guinness)
  • 24 cupcake liners
  • 2 cupcake/muffin pans

For the Frosting

  • 16 oz plain cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla (or orange!) extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • Pastry bag, fitted with small star tip
  • Edible glitter

The best way to start the morning...baking

How to Do It

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake or muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Sift or mix together your dry ingredients (flour, spices, baking soda, salt) in a bowl, and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix together the Guinness and molasses, and set aside.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy with a paddle attachment on a stand mixer (if you don’t have one, an electric hand mixer is fine). This takes slightly longer than it would with granulated sugar because turbinado sugar is more coarse. It may take up to 3-4 minutes.
  4. Beat the eggs into the butter and sugar, one at a time.
  5. Alternately add the dry ingredients and Guinness mixture to the butter, sugar, and egg, and beat after each addition. Occasionally scrape the sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients.
  6. When the batter is mixed, it will be softer than a traditional cupcake batter. Use an ice cream scoop to fill cupcake liners 1/2 to 2/3 of the way full, and be sure that they are filled equally.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, and rotate the pans in your oven. Bake for another 12 minutes, or until the cupcakes bounce back when lightly pressed. Remove from the oven and cool in the pans for several minutes before carefully moving to a wire rack to finish cooling. These will be soft and fragile cakes.
  8. While the cupcakes are baking and cooling, make the cream cheese frosting. Whip the cream cheese and softened butter together until uniform and soft. Add the vanilla extract and salt, and whip until blended. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time, and whip until blended between each addition. If you want to add color for a more festive appearance, add it after you’ve whipped in the confectioner’s sugar. It’s best to use color gel rather than liquid food coloring to avoid changing the consistency of the icing. See the tips below. Refrigerate the icing to thicken for 25-30 minutes.
  9. When the cupcakes have cooled and the icing is the desired thickness, frost the cupcakes using a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip, and frost in a counter-clockwise fashion, starting in the center and moving upward rather than outward. Top with edible glitter or sparkles to give the cupcakes a little glisten.

Cupcake recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse.

Tip: To color icing without changing the consistency, use a gel-based coloring. Wilton makes every color in the rainbow, and because the color is so concentrated, you need very little to get a bold hue (unless it’s red or black). Use a toothpick to dip into the color (use the toothpick only once-no double dipping!), and dip it into your icing. Whip the color in with a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, and if you want to darken your color, add another drop of the gel with a new toothpick. I used Leaf Green to create the color on these cupcakes.


  1. Yummy @ these cupcakes. I could probably eat like say….6 in one sitting. They look very moist and tasty!

    Season’s Greetings & Best Wishes for a Peaceful & Prosperous 2012


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  2. […] couldn’t find them at the store anyway. I used the green cream cheese frosting I made for the gingerbread cupcakes, and piped thin diagnol lines across the surface to make them a little more festive. I did this […]

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