I think it’s safe to say the festivity has stepped up a gear in the last few days – Christmas adverts are on TV, Starbucks Red Cups are back (and not very red at all) and I spent Sunday afternoon wrapping some actual Christmas presents.
Yeah, and then there’s these gorgeous little gingerbread cupcakes, topped with maple syrup flavoured buttercream and adorable little gingerbread men icing toppers. Holidays are most definitely coming!
We’ve made cupcakes so many times in the past year that I’m not even going to insult your intelligence and explain how they’re made. This recipe is based on my trusty old faithful vanilla cupcake recipe that I swear by, with the addition of some gingerbread staples – dark brown sugar, treacle (or molasses if you can get it), ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. These all come together to give these cupcakes the ultimate gingerbread man taste. They aren’t too sweet, they aren’t too cinnamony. They’re perfect.
My cupcake recipes always include yogurt, because that’s how I roll. I find that the yogurt adds some moisture and lightness to the cupcakes, without making them so fluffy they fall apart. It’s definitely not optional!
When it comes to buttercream, you want something sweet but not sickly on the top of these spicy ginger cupcakes. And there’s something about ginger and maple syrup that works so very well. If you don’t have any maple syrup, or you don’t want to splash out on some, then you can leave it out and add a teaspoon of vanilla extract instead. But I’d definitely recommend chucking some maple syrup in there – you won’t regret it!
I always put waaaay too much buttercream on my cupcakes (‘cos photos) but you probably don’t need quite as much. The recipe below is enough for ten cupcakes if you don’t go as crazy as I have with the frosting. If you do, then it will probably only stretch to eight or nine.
If you’re wondering about the adorable red serving plate, I got it from Amazon. I’m pretty much in love with it, so expect it to feature pretty heavily around here over the next couple of months!
- 100g (½ cup) dark brown sugar
- 125g (½ cup + 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 50ml (3 tablespoons) whole milk
- 60ml (¼ cup) vanilla or plain yogurt
- 150g (1¼ cups) plain or all-purpose flour
- 25g (2 tablespoons) cornflour or cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 3 tablespoons treacle or molasses
- 225g (½ cup) unsalted butter, very soft
- 500g (4 cups) icing sugar or powdered sugar
- 80ml (1/3 cup) maple syrup
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
- Gingerbread man sprinkles or cake toppers to decorate (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C / 355°F (160°C fan) and line a muffin tin with 10 cupcake cases or liners.
- Place the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer (or a medium sized bowl if using an electric hand mixer) and beat for a minute or so until light and creamy. Add the sugar and beat well for at least a minute, scraping down the sides if needed. Add the egg and beat again.
- Add the vanilla extract, milk, and yogurt to the bowl and beat well for a minute or two, scraping around the sides of the bowl to make sure the batter is well mixed. Add the flour, cornflour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, spices, and molasses and fold together on a low speed until well combined. Do not over mix.
- Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases, filling about two thirds full. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until springy on top and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean, without any crumbs on. Place the tray on a wire rack to to cool completely.
- Beat the butter in a stand mixer, using the balloon whisk attachment, or if using a hand-held mixer then beat the butter in a medium sized bowl. Beat on high for at least five minutes, scraping down the sides with a spatula every minute or so. The butter should be light, fluffy, and very very pale when it is whipped enough.
- Add the sifted icing sugar in three or four stages, beating for at least a minute in between additions. Once all the icing sugar has been added, pour in the maple syrup and beat well. If the icing is a little stiff, add a tablespoon or two of milk until you have a pipe-able consistency.
- Pipe the buttercream on to the tops of the cool cupcakes using a piping bag and a 1M icing tip, and decorate with sprinkles or toppers.
- The frosted cupcakes will stay fresh for 2-3 days if stored in an airtight container in a cool place. The unfrosted cupcakes can also be frozen for up to 3 months - defrost overnight at room temperature. The buttercream can be made a day or two in advance and stored in the fridge. Keep it in a bowl covered with clingfilm, and bring back up to room temperature and beat well before using. The buttercream also freezes well - put in an airtight plastic tub (with room for some expanding) and use within three months. Defrost overnight in the fridge, and then beat well to bring it back to a good consistency.