Homemade Gingerbread Cupcakes topped with a super creamy cinnamon buttercream are moist, soft and fluffy and filled with festive flavour. They’ll look gorgeous among your Christmas desserts this year.
How I love Christmas! I love that I get to spend more time cooking, more time with family and friends and spoiling them too. I couldn’t let it pass without knocking up a yummy Christmas Cupcake, so here it is.
With cosy, festive spices like cinnamon and ginger in every bite, you’ll adore these little Gingerbread Cupcakes. They scream ‘it’s Christmas time’ or maybe they sing it like a cute Christmas carol.
Next year, I may actually try a Gingerbread house but for now let’s all just ogle at these little darlings.
First, I increased the spices to include ginger, nutmeg and allspice (as well as the cinnamon). Next, I changed the light brown sugar to dark brown sugar. This adds both flavour and moisture to the cakes. Finally, I replaced some of that sugar with treacle for that classic holiday flavour.
Whaddaya know?! These are just like your favourite gingerbread cookies in a perfectly tender and fluffy cupcake. Just from the batter, you can immediately smell Christmas and the aroma that fills the kitchen as these bake is unmistakable and absolutely amazing.
What is treacle?
Treacle is a dark, sweet syrup created during the process of refining sugar and is actually an umbrella term for a few different syrups ranging from golden syrup (at the lighter and thinner end) through to molasses (at it’s darkest and thickest).</p?
It has a flavour all it’s own and is an absolute must when making any gingerbread flavoured treat.
Where I live (Australia), in the UK and some other parts of the world, the syrup called treacle is readily available. If you live somewhere it isn’t available, molasses is the perfect substitute being very similar but a little more intense in flavour.
How to make gingerbread cupcakes
Now that we know all about the ingredients, lets get to the fun bit.
- You’ll start by creaming together softened butter and that gorgeous browns sugar then add eggs, vanilla and treacle.
Important here is making sure you take the time to really cream that butter and sugar until it lightens quite a bit – a good few minutes. Use room temperature eggs and beat them in one at a time.
- Now you’ll start adding dry ingredients and milk in parts until all the ingredients are combined and you have a thick, luscious, holiday smelling batter.
In this step, make sure not to overbeat. Once you start adding flour to anything, mixing will begin to form gluten which can create a tough finished product. This is great when making bread (kneading over and over develops the gluten creating an elastic dough), but not so great when trying to create tender cakes. Only mix long enough to just mix the flour in.
How about that cinnamon buttercream
The buttercream frosting itself is my favourite type – none other than Ermine frosting. This stuff is other-wordly. It’s not as sickly sweet as a traditional buttercream (hence, I pile it up high and eat more) it’s incredibly creamy and luscious and I could eat it by the spoonful.
My regular readers will have heard me bang on about ermine before but the major differences between this and a regular buttercream, aside from less sweetness, is the fact that it uses caster / superfine sugar (instead of the regular icing / powdered sugar) and it has an interesting addition of a cooked milk and flour paste.
Sound weird? Maybe but it tastes anything but weird. This stuff is amazing. You cannot taste any flour in it but this milk and flour paste helps to create body in the frosting that would normally be created by loads of icing sugar.
How to make the Ermine cinnamon buttercream
- The first step is making the milk and flour paste. Yes it’s an extra step but I promise it is more than worth it. It takes just a few minutes to cook together milk and flour in a saucepan over low heat until it’s super thick.
Make sure to keep stirring / whisking at this point so you don’t get a lumpy paste. A spatula or whisk will work just make sure to keep stirring and get right into the corners of the pan. If you’re worried you have lumps, just strain the paste before cooling.
- Place the paste in a dish, cover with plastic wrap pressed right to the paste to room temperature before using. I speed this up by cooling it in the fridge but make sure it’s room temperature before you start adding it to the butter.
- Now things start to look a little more normal. Beat together softened butter and caster / superfine sugar. Do this for a few minutes so it’s lightened and creamy, then add the milk and flour paste a third at a time, mixing really well between each addition. Beat this for a good 5-6 minutes until you have a creamy, smooth buttercream with no sugar granules left.
I promise, the sugar granules totally dissolve and the buttercream will be completely smooth.
On top of that perfect cloud of frosting, I add a little gingerbread cookie that I make using my Gingerbread Snowball Cookies dough (minus the almonds).
Substitutions and Variations
- Treacle: Can’t get treacle? No worries, use molasses instead
- Gingerbread cookies: You don’t have to make your own gingerbread cookies to top these, you can use store-bought or use some cute Christmas sugar decorations that you’re bound to find in every store at this time of year.
How to store Gingerbread Cupcakes
- These will keep well overnight in a cool place as long as your home is cool. If your home is warm, best to keep them in the fridge in an airtight container then bring them to room temperature about 1 hour before you want to serve them.
- Cupcakes are always best as fresh as possible but made up to 2 days before, they will still taste amazing.
- The cupcakes (without the frosting) can also be made and frozen but I suggest no more than a month before. Make sure they are wrapped well and in an airtight container as well to protect them from frost and freezer smells.
- The frosting should be used immediately once made. It won’t re-beat like a regular buttercream. Once piped onto the cupcakes it will hold it’s shape and texture fine but you can’t make this the day before then re-whip it.
We’re only 8 days out from Christmas now, so hopefully, you have all your checklists checked and pressies wrapped. I think you deserve a cupcake. Maybe a gingerbread cupcake and some uber creamy cinnamon buttercream?
Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting
- 195 g (1 1/2 cups / 6.9oz) plain (all-purp) flour
- 25 g (1oz) corn flour (corn starch)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon all spice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (100g / 3.5oz) dark brown sugar, packed
- 115 g unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large eggs, room temp
- 1/3 cup treacle (or molasses)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup milk, room temp
- 1 cup milk
- 3 Tablespoons plain (all-purp) flour (notes)
- 1/2 Tablespoon vanilla (notes)
- 230 g unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup caster (superfine) sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Decorations of your choice - sprinkles, mini cookies, cachous
- Preheat oven to 180C / 320F (160C fan). Line a 12 hole muffin tray with large cupcake cases.
- Sift together the flour, cornflour, baking powder, spices and salt and mix them well.
- Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each. Add the vanilla and treacle and beat well until all completely mixed. Add half of the flour and beat on very low until almost combined. Add the milk and mix until just combined then add the remaining flour mix and mix by hand until well combined (but make sure not to overmix or you'll end up with dense cupcakes).
- Divide the batter between the 12 cupcake cases and bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out with a crumb or two (they will continue to cook with residual heat once removed from the oven).
- While the cupcakes are in the oven, you can begin the cinnamon buttercream. In a small saucepan whisk together the milk, flour and vanilla until smooth. Heat over low heat for a few minutes until it thickens to a very thick paste. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap making sure the plastic wrap is touching the paste (this will stop the top from forming a skin), then place in the fridge to cool completely.
- Once the milk paste is completely cool, beat together the butter and sugar until really creamy (about 5 minutes). Make sure to regularly scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the milk paste, salt and cinnamon and beat for 5-7 minutes. If it looks like it separates at the start, don't worry, keep on beating and it will beat up into an almost whipped cream consistency.
- Top your cupcakes with frosting and gingerbread cookies or sprinkles.
- I use an Australian standard 20ml tablespoon (= 4 teaspoons worldwide)
- For best results you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
- I use corn starch a lot in my baking. Cake flour is a combination of all-purpose and corn starch but in Australia is not so readily available. I use this combo in my recipes a lot instead of using cake flour.
- I use cupcake liners that are roughly 1/2 cup volume. If you use smaller liners, the recipe will make more cupcakes. The important part is to fill them no more than 2/3 full.
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