Simple, butter free gingerbread cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting. Healthier than you may expect!
‘Twas the week before Christmas and a creature was stirring,
The oven was warm and the beaters were whirring;
Cinnamon and ginger wafted and danced through the air
Asking anyone to resist, if they would dare.
Pipe tall swirls of frosting for some festive fun
Or just add a drizzle, or perhaps even none;
But don’t forget – if you must eat them quick
To save a small cupcake for good ol’ St. Nick.
As you’ve probably guessed from that little introduction, I’ve been trying to make the most of the holiday baking season. Still haven’t finished the Christmas shopping, wrapped any presents or written a single card, but I do have a freezer overflowing with cupcakes and cookies.
Now that’s what I call prioritizing.
So, in the spirit of holiday baking madness, let’s eat some cupcakes.
Actually, before we talk about the cake part of these festive treats, let me tell you the story of Claudia and the Three Frostings.
The first frosting was made with low-fat cream cheese, Greek yogurt and confectioners’ sugar. The taste? Yummy. But it had the texture of a thick yogurt. In fact, you can see the texture for yourself – I used that frosting in most of these pictures.
The next bowl of frosting included full-fat cream cheese, sugar and a ton of melted white chocolate. The taste? Seriously yum. But, alas, that frosting couldn’t be piped into swirls either. All that melted white chocolate made the frosting too runny. (Delicious to eat off a spoon, though).
But then the third bowl of frosting was just right. Pipe-able, with enough white chocolate to help balance out the cream cheese.
I have to admit that those frostings nearly turned me into a Grinch. After making chocolate frosting out of sweet potatoes last year, I seemed ridiculous that I couldn’t make frosting out of cream cheese. Now I have tons of frosting sitting in my fridge and I’m totally out of confectioners’ sugar.
By the way, the frosting (the third bowl, that is) firms up quite a bit in the fridge, so keep that in mind. If you’d prefer a softer frosting (but one that can’t be piped into swirls), then I’ve included the Greek yogurt frosting (the first bowl) in the notes underneath the frosting recipe.
The cupcakes themselves are super simple to make. There’s no need for any electric mixers, beaters or anything complex – just a fork, a spoon and two bowls. Oh, and a muffin/cupcake pan (obviously).
Since there’s no butter in these little cakes, you don’t need to cream together butter and sugar (or wait for the butter to soften!). Instead, a good ol’ fork mixes together the wet ingredients.
The only thing that requires some time and planning is the pumpkin puree. Yes, I’m using my favorite butter substitute once again. The pumpkin provides moisture and sweetness, but still lets the gingerbread flavor shine through. However, I really think it’s important to use fresh pumpkin puree. The canned stuff doesn’t have the same flavor, and the texture’s a little different too.
For best results, roast some pumpkin in the oven until it’s tender, and then puree it in a blender or food processor. If you have leftover pumpkin puree, add it to some soup! (Or use it in oatmeal, baked oatmeal, pancakes, cookies, waffles… and so on).
If you don’t need (or want) a bunch of cupcakes hanging around, then these cupcakes can be frozen – as long as they’re unfrosted. To defrost, wrap a cupcake in aluminum foil and place in an oven at 350°F (180°C) for 10 – 15 minutes, or until warm. And voilà! You can sink your teeth into a freshly baked cupcake (well, it tastes freshly baked).
I realize that gingerbread cupcakes may seem like an odd recipe to share on a breakfast blog. But, in my own defense, I have been eating these for breakfast. Yes, really.
Oh, don’t look at me like that. It’s Christmas.
- 1 ½ cups (200g) all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (10g) cornstarch (cornflour)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup (125g) pumpkin puree
- ½ cup (100g) brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons (30mL) canola oil
- 1 tablespoon (15mL) blackstrap molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup (180mL) buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 12-hole muffin/cupcake pan with cupcake papers, and lightly spray the papers with cooking oil spray.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Add the salt, and stir to combine.
- In another large bowl, whisk the eggs with a fork. Whisk in the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, canola oil, blackstrap molasses and vanilla extract. Add the buttermilk, and whisk until well combined.
- Pour the dry ingredients (the flour mixture) into the wet ingredients (the buttermilk mixture). Mix until just combined.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared muffin/cupcake pan, filling each hole approximately two-thirds of the way up.
- Bake for 16 – 18 minutes, or until the tops are dry and a skewer comes out clean (or with a few dry crumbs). Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooking rack.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. Store frosted cupcakes in the fridge, and unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container.
- 8 oz (225g) cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons (20g) white chocolate chips, melted and slightly cooled
- 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- In a large bowl, use electric beaters to beat the cream cheese and vanilla extract until smooth.
- Add the melted white chocolate, and beat until incorporated.
- Gradually beat in the sugar, adding ¼ cup at a time, until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.
- Either use the frosting immediately, or store the fridge. If chilled, let the frosting sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before spreading/piping onto cupcakes.
If piping tall swirls onto the cupcakes, you’ll need to double the recipe.
You may not need all the sugar – it depends on how thick you’d like the frosting. If the frosting becomes too thick, add a tiny bit of milk or cream (or more melted white chocolate).
Variation: Cream Cheese Greek Yogurt Frosting
Replace the white chocolate with ¼ cup (60g) of Greek-style yogurt. This frosting will be too runny to pipe into swirls, but it works as a spreadable frosting.