Loaded with spices and topped with a spiced cream cheese frosting, gingerbread cupcakes are the perfect desserts for Christmas!
The secret to these cupcakes is using lots of spices! When I created this recipe, I kept adding more and more spices until I was happy.
To make the perfect gingerbread spice blend, use a combination of cocoa powder, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, and ground allspice.
You’ll also need molasses to get that distinctive rich flavor of gingerbread.
Tip: Always opt opt for a light molasses like Grandma’s Original Molasses. While blackstrap molasses works well for a less sweet gingerbread loaf, it is too bitter for cupcakes or even ginger molasses cookies.
The other ingredients you’ll need are baking staples like cake flour, sugar, unsalted butter, cream cheese, baking soda, salt, eggs, and sour cream.
How It’s Made
Before starting, make sure you read my guide to baking cupcakes if you’re an inexperienced baker and want to get up to speed quickly.
Begin by preheating your oven to 350 F.
In a mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together dry ingredients – sugar, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes. Because there is so little butter, you’ll end up with a very fine crumb texture.
Mix in molasses until fully combined. The mixture should have the look of wet sand.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined. Note that the batter will be very wet – that’s totally normal!
It’s really important to fill the liners the correct amount – in this case, 3/4 full. When in doubt, it’s better to under-fill the liners than to overfill them.
Tip: When you overfill liners , the cupcakes won’t dome properly. I always recommend baking a test cupcake to see if you have the fill level right.
Bake for 14 minutes or until completely done. Remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack to cool.
Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
I frost these cupcakes with a spiced version of my classic cream cheese frosting. It’s very similar to my cinnamon frosting, but I up the ante by using all of the gingerbread spices instead of just cinnamon.
The trick to great cream cheese frosting is having all of your ingredients at room temperature. I’ve also learned that aerating butter first, then adding cream cheese helps to produce a smooth result with good mouth feel.
Start by mixing butter on high speed for three minutes or until light and fluffy. Then, add cream cheese and mix until just combined.
Mix in powdered sugar one cup at a time. (Add more or less than my recipe suggests to get the consistency you want.)
Add your gingerbread spices and mix until fully integrated.
Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.
I love topping this gingerbread cupcake recipe with gingerbread men and women. I bought mine from Craft Cookie Co. If you’re creative, you could always make homemade gingerbread people. It’s a fun project!
Expert Tips and FAQs
The USDA considers frostings made with cream cheese to be unsafe if left unrefrigerated, and there are a lot of food websites that echo this fear.
I personally leave my cupcakes with cream cheese frosting out on the counter in an airtight container. I have never had problems with the frosting souring, and I have certainly never had any negative health effects.
If you want to be on the safe side, refrigerate these and allow time to let them almost return to room temperature before serving.
Some cream cheese brands are more susceptible to becoming gummy than others when whipped. Make sure you first aerate butter and then add cream cheese, mixing only until just combined. Overwhipping the cream cheese can definitely make things worse.
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups cake flour not self-rising
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/2 cup molasses not blackstrap
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup whole milk room temperature
- 16 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 14 gingerbread people optional
- Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
- In a mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk sugar, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
- Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes. Because there is so little butter, you’ll end up with a very fine crumb texture.
- Mix in molasses until fully combined.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.
- Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
- Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be liquid. (Don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s supposed to be that way.)
- Fill cupcake liners just over 3/4 full.
- Bake for 14 minutes and then test to see if they are done. They are done when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it. If they are not done, test again in two minutes. If they are still not done, test again in another two minutes.
- When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rack (or just on your counter if you don’t own a cooling rack) to cool.
- Use an electric mixer to cream butter until creamy and light, about three minutes on high speed.
- Mix in cream cheese until just combined.
- Mix in powdered sugar one cup at a time. You can add more or less to get your desired consistency.
- Mix in spices until fully integrated.
- Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.
- Optionally, decorate with a gingerbread person.
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