Growing up, my grandma had a very specific cutout cookie recipe that makes my mouth water to think about. They’re soft and chewy, with slightly crisp edges, and the icing is the perfect creamy compliment. The problem is, every year I get the holiday baking bug, and I try to make these in my own kitchen…#fail. The results are mediocre at best. They’re impossible to recreate, so I simply stopped trying.
I thought about the other treats I tend to enjoy around the holidays, and back to my childhood, where my mom attended at least 4 or 5 cookie swaps every December. I tried thinking of some specific favorites, but ultimately none of my reminiscing brought me the inspiration for the perfect sweet.
So, this year I decided I’m scrapping all thoughts of cookies. I’ve been seeing gingerbread popping up everywhere, so I thought why not? The results….were incredible! I present you with the tastiest holiday cupcakes, and I must say – I think they’re pretty high on my favorites list already…just below the cutouts.
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees and get your pans ready. You can go full muffin size for these, and will get about 16, or with a mini muffin pan you’ll get about 40. I did some of each, and used liners only for the large ones, but feel free to use some fancy, decorative liners for the minis too! I also sprayed the liners, just to be safe.
Now you’ll want to cream the sugar and butter for a few minutes, until the mixture gets light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each one before adding the next.
Next, you’ll get your dry ingredients sifted together. I usually don’t sift, but I like to be sure there are no lumps in this batter.
Now, slowly add the dry into the wet and mix until just combined. The batter will be fairly thick.
The last ingredients go in now, first the molasses (try spraying your measuring cup with an oil spray before measuring to ensure it comes out easily), and then the buttermilk (or milk + lemon/vinegar). Mix just to make sure the molasses and buttermilk are incorporated. The batter will be darker from the molasses, and thinned a bit…perfect for scooping into the liners.
Scoop about a 1/4 cup of batter for each regular cupcake, or about 2 tablespoons for the minis.
Now, put the pan into the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes for the regular-sized cupcakes (or 16-18 minutes for the minis) until a toothpick comes out clean.
Next, you’ll put together the frosting, which could not be easier, or more delicious. Just mix together the butter and cream cheese until blended. Slowly add the powdered sugar until it is mixed, and then finish it off with a tiny splash of milk and vanilla.
The ratios here can vary, so remember you can always thin out with more milk, or thicken with more sugar. It takes a lot more to thicken though, so add much less milk than you think you need!
Once the cupcakes are done and cooled, I fill a quart-sized storage bag with the frosting and cut the tip of the corner. The cheap brands tend to pop open resulting in a delicious mess, so I like to use the more expensive ones… Frost at your own risk. For these, I used a simple swirl, but feel free to get crazy!
I finished these gems with various colors of sprinkles, and consumed immediately.
Adapted from Heather Christo
Prep: 20 minutes, Cook: 20 minutes, Total: 40 minutes
Makes: 16 regular cupcakes or 35-40 mini cupcakes
- 2 sticks butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup black strap molasses
- 1/3 cup buttermilk (or 1 teaspoon of lemon or vinegar mixed with 1/3 cup milk)
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and get your pans ready by filling a muffin pan with liners and then spraying with baking spray if you are extra careful.
Cream the sugar and butter for a few minutes, until the mixture gets light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each one before adding the next.
Sift the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
Slowly add the dry into the wet and mix until just combined. Add the molasses and then the buttermilk.
Scoop 1/4 cup of batter into each liner.
Bake for 20-25 minutes for the regular-sized cupcakes until a toothpick comes out clean. This will take about 16-18 minutes for the mini cupcakes.
For the frosting, mix together the butter and cream cheese until blended. Slowly add the powdered sugar until it is mixed, and then finish it off with a tiny splash of milk and vanilla.
Once the cupcakes are done and cooled, frost and enjoy!