My wonderful friend Esme (why yes, she was named after a J.D. Salinger character) threw her annual holiday party this weekend, and I volunteered to bring dessert. The Martha Stewart Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting that I brought last year were a big hit, so I wanted to follow up with another festive and seasonal creation. Ever since I saw this recipe for Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting in The Spice Kitchen by Sara Engram and Katie Luber with Kimberly Toqe, I’ve been jonesing to give them a go. Esme’s shindig was the perfect excuse to whip up a batch.
With three different spices and a swell amount of lemon zest, the gingerbread cake perfectly captured the smells and flavors of the season. The cardamom cream cheese frosting was tangy and complex, providing a unique and fitting complement to the warmly spiced cake. Fa-la-la-la-la!
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon ground green cardamom
- Candied ginger (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease 12 standard-size muffin cups or line them with paper cups. Cream the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses, egg, and vanilla. In a small bowl, stir together the boiling water and baking soda until dissolved. Stir the baking soda water into the molasses mixture.
Sift together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, lemon zest, and salt into a small bowl. Whisk the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until the batter is combined.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center of one or two of the cupcakes comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan. Place the cupcakes on a rack to cool for 30 minutes.
Cream together the cream cheese and sugar in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and cardamom and beat until fluffy and smooth. Chill the frosting in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Spread the cream cheese frosting generously over the cooled cupcakes and top with candied ginger.