These easy gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese frosting come together quickly and are made with ingredients you probably already have on hand. And they’re pretty hard to beat!
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Here’s a little secret: I think I’m actually about 85 years old. Not just because my back always hurts and I like to knit. But because I LOVE molasses. And a love of molasses seems like something reserved for the geriatric set.
But I can’t help it. It’s such a deep and complex flavor—a little sweet, a little smoky, a little spicy. Combine molasses with some warming cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, and nothing could remind me more of Christmas.
Gingerbread baking in the oven just makes you feel cozy inside doesn’t it? These gingerbread cupcakes provide you all the deliciousness of a loaf of gingerbread but in an individually portioned package.
And that package is topped with cream cheese frosting—because why not?
Why you’ll love these gingerbread cupcakes:
- They’re really easy to make—if you can use a hand mixer, you can make these
- All the ingredients are pantry staples
- Your kitchen will smell like the holidays for hours after you make them!
How to Make Gingerbread Cupcakes
Start by bringing some water to a boil. Remove it from the heat and stir in molasses and baking soda—wait a minute and the mixture will start to foam a bit, like in that second picture. (If you’re curious, it foams because molasses is acidic so the reaction is similar to when you mix baking soda and vinegar.)
When the mixture stops foaming add cold water and set it aside to cool. If you don’t let it cool to room temp you could scramble the eggs in your cupcakes!
Beat some room temperature butter with brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat in an egg and some spices, followed by one-third of the flour.
Add half of the cooled molasses mixture, then another third of the flour, then the rest of the molasses and the rest of the flour, beating until smooth. Divide the batter between about 14 paper-lined muffin cups and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool your cupcakes completely before frosting them or your frosting will melt!
How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting
Start by beating room temperature butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat until smooth. Spread or pipe onto your cooled cupcakes and decorate as desired!
Baker’s tip: Get your butter and cream cheese out of the fridge when you begin your gingerbread cupcakes. By the time you’re ready to make the frosting, they should be at room temp.
To decorate, I used these adorable gingerbread man sprinkles along with some red, white, and green nonpareils to decorate. Cream cheese frosting isn’t easy to pipe because it doesn’t always hold a shape, so I just spread the frosting on my cupcakes with a small offset spatula–but a butter knife does the job too.
If you’re baking for Christmas (and I hope you are) then be sure to include a batch of these easy gingerbread cupcakes. I heard Santa is tired of cookies and would prefer some cake this year.
Just kidding. Clearly no one could ever tire of cookies. But I think the big guy would appreciate a change of pace!
Did you make these gingerbread cupcakes? Awesome! Take a pic and post it over on Instagram–tag @theitsybitsykitchen so I can see your gorgeous creations!
These gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are easy to make and they taste like the holidays!
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup dark molasses
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup very cold water
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 14 to 15 muffin cups with paper liners and set pans aside.
Bring the 1/2 cup lukewarm water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the molasses and baking soda. The mixture will start to foam after a bit; when it stops foaming, add the cold water. Cool mixture to room temperature.
Combine the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until very creamy. Add the egg and beat to combine. Beat in the baking powder, spices, and salt.
Turn mixer to medium speed and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the cooled molasses mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until flour is just incorporated.
Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full and bake cupcakes 14 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Set pans on a wire rack and cool cupcakes for 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes from the pans to the racks to cool completely before frosting.
Beat the butter and cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer very light and creamy. With mixer on low, gradually add 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, mixing until combined. Beat in the vanilla and salt.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then turn mixer to medium and beat until smooth. Add more powdered sugar if necessary to achieve desired consistency.
Frost cupcakes as desired and serve. Uneaten cupcakes can be stored, loosely covered with plastic wrap, in the fridge for up to 2 days, or in the freezer in airtight containers for up to 2 months.
Get your butter and cream cheese out of the fridge when you begin your cupcakes. By the time you’re ready to make the frosting, they should be at room temp.
Cupcakes adapted from Southern Living Big Book of Cupcakes