These Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes give a satisfying hit of chocolate, molasses, and mixed spices! Topped with Spiced Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Ginger Cookies, they make for an amazing addition to your holiday table!
I always feel a little nervous when I make anything gingerbread flavored. Sometimes it can be hit or miss, not necessarily because the recipe is bad, but because we’re not used to eating gingerbread treats in our country. But I had a bottle of molasses in the pantry and I thought it seemed like prime opportunity to make something fitting for the season. Just to make sure, I chose something with chocolate in the mix, since that always seems to make things more enjoyable for everyone.
And so here we are with Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes, paired with some Spiced Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting, because around here we all love our cream cheese frosting!
Deciding to push my luck a little further, I also made some gingerbread cookie toppers for the cupcakes– mostly because I still had a lot of molasses leftover, and also because I had not made gingerbread cookies in a long time. Again, I decided to go the chocolate gingerbread route.
And you know what? Once everything was put together, with the gingersnaps on top, these Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes were pretty freaking brilliant. These were MERRY CHRISTMAS level of brilliant.
And it’s an interesting recipe for sure. I very seldom encounter a recipe using the reverse creaming method, but that’s what this recipe has you do. Using this process, the dry ingredients are mixed with the butter right away, creating a finely crumbly mixture that is reminiscent of pie crust, before water is added in. As opposed to the normal creaming method where butter and sugar are mixed with the wet ingredients before adding in the dry ingredients, the liquids are introduced into the batter last with reverse creaming. (That’s why it’s “reverse”!)
Theoretically speaking, mixing the flour straight in with the fat is supposed to minimize gluten formation, creating a softer crumb rather than one that’s dense. And surely, the cupcakes produced by this recipe is super fluffy and soft. It reminds me of a chiffon cake actually– just such a lovely crumb! But in my opinion, if you have a good recipe to begin with, I don’t think most people will sense any difference in the tenderness of the cake whether you use normal creaming or reverse creaming methods. A good cake is a good cake, right? Nonetheless, I’m just always so fascinated with any new thing I try when it comes to baking. You do need a bit more elbow grease in reverse creaming though!
Funnily enough, the delicate crumb of these Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes is very deceiving because the flavors are anything but! These give you that full force of molasses and mixed spices, but not in an obnoxious or overwhelming way. It’s simply legit gingerbread flavors for those looking for a true gingerbread cake, but with chocolate!
As for the cookies, they were a bit on the sweet side. It might be because I rolled them in too much brown sugar, but it’s hard to deny how much flavour is in them as well! The molasses and the ginger stand out so well, they give the cookies this satisfying spiced warm scent and flavour, again, without being overwhelming. The chocolate adds a nice touch too.
I’m not sure if these cookies are really supposed to be soft and chewy, and this flat. While great for topping cupcakes, I would prefer if they didn’t come out so thin. I had not retested this recipe to see where I can make changes but it might’ve been my fault for over-handling the dough. If they were slightly fatter, they would probably be more satisfyingly chewy. Nonetheless, I have zero complaints with regards to the taste and how well they pair with the Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes. Admittedly, they are not a necessary feature for the cupcakes because the cupcakes are great on their own, but they’re a nice decorative and yummy touch.
And really, Christmas is such an appropriate time to be extra.
These Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes may not necessarily look festive since they a dark hue, but they are so good and tasty they’re deserving of a spot on your Christmas desert table!
- Use cake flour, but if you don’t have any you can make your own. For every 1 cup cake flour needed, measure 1 level cup of all-purpose flour, remove 2 tablespoons of the flour and replace with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Whisk together to combine. Ta-dah! Homemade substitute cake flour! You’ll need 2 cups cake flour for this recipe.
- Use regular molasses, not blackstrap. I have never tried anything other than Brer Rabbit so I don’t know if there are better options out there, but I’m pretty happy with their Full Flavored Molasses. It gives your pastries a kick and this really deep molasses flavor and color. I buy mine from Shopee. There’s also a mild-flavored molasses option from Brer Rabbit and I think this should be fine to use for this recipe (expect lighter colored pastries), as long as you don’t use blackstrap because they taste more bitter.
- Be patient with the reverse creaming process. By hand, it takes a while to get the flour incorporated into the butter because the mixture is so dry at the start but keep at it! It’s easier to just use a machine but it’s completely doable by hand as well.
- Be careful not to overwork the batter. By the end, once you add in all the liquid to the batter, stop mixing once things look pretty homogenous and incorporated. It’s generally not a good idea to beat the lights out of cake batter because too much beating encourages gluten formation, which negates the whole reverse creaming thing you just did. In my experience, over-beating ALWAYS produces tough cakes. That said, you still have to make sure you mix everything properly, so make sure you scrape your spatula along the bottom of the bowl to get any bits of ingredients that might have stuck or sunk there.
- Do not fill the cupcake liners all the way up. Overfilling cupcake molds will increase the chance that the cupcakes will collapse as it bakes. You want rounded domes that peek from the top of the liners, so make sure you leave some space between the batter and the top edge of your paper liner.
Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cupcakes
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup molasses, not blackstrap
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ⅓ cup full-fat sour cream
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup whole milk, room temperature
For the frosting
- 225 grams cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup butter, room temperature
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1½ to 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 14 to 17 of the cavities of the muffin tin with muffin liners, or grease them if you prefer not to use cupcakes liners.
- In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices, until well-blended. Add in butter and use a spatula to mix for several minutes until it resembles fine crumbs. (You can use an electric mixer on medium-low speed to mix for about three minutes.) Mix in molasses until fully combined. The mixture will look like cookie dough.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract to make the liquid mixture. Make sure to mix until completely blended and smooth. Add liquid mixture to the dough-like mixture and beat on medium speed, until just combined. Slowly stream in the milk and mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be quite runny.
- Divide the batter among the prepared cupcake cavities just over 3/4 full. Do not fill to the the brim! (I managed to get 17.) Bake for 14 minutes and use a cake tester or toothpick to check for doneness. Cupcakes are done when tester comes out without any wet batter clinging to it. The domes of the cupcakes will also be rounded and will spring back gently when touched. If they are not done, bake for an extra 2 minutes and repeat the checking process until cooked through.
- Remove cupcakes and transfer to a cooling rack. Make sure cupcakes are completely cool before frosting.
Make the frosting
- In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth, creamy, and well combined. (You may use a spatula or an electric mixer.) Mix in the cocoa powder until majority is incorporated, then add in 1-½ cups of the confectioners’ sugar first. Add in the cinnamon, salt, and vanilla, then beat together until smooth and well-combined.
- Taste the icing and check if you’re okay with the consistency. If you prefer a sweeter or stiffer frosting, add more confectioners’ sugar ¼ cup at a time, until you get the desired flavor and consistency.
- Transfer frosting into a piping bag with desired tip, then frost the cooled cupcakes as desired. Garnish with the Chocolate Gingersnaps (recipe below) for decoration, if desired. Enjoy!
Watch how it's made
- These cookie toppers are optional but pretty good (and just pretty) with the cupcakes. They are not a requirement for making the cupcakes taste better, because believe me, the cupcakes taste great on their own, but they’re an added little treat perched on the frosting. And since it’s Christmas, we’re all about extra treats right?
- The dough must be refrigerated before baking. This dough is SUPER soft and impossible to handle without refrigeration. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP if you’re making these cookies.
- Do not over-handle and over-roll the dough during the shaping stage. We want to bake the dough while it’s cold so it doesn’t spread too much, so work as quickly as you can. Do not spend too much time rolling the dough between your hands as the warmth of your hands can soften the dough quite a lot as well. I spent too long rolling these, and coupled with the hot weather here, the cookies did not bake up the same way as the original did. Still delicious though. In hindsight, I should’ve refrigerated/frozen them again after shaping just to get them back cold. I hope you have better luck!
- No need to overcoat the dough balls with sugar. They’ll be sweet enough. We just want a slight crunch from the sugar coating.
Chocolate Ginger Cookies
- ¼ cup butter, softened at room temperature
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/8 cup molasses
- ½ Tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 100 grams semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/8 cup coarse sugar, for rolling
- In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar for several minutes until light and fluffy. Mix in the molasses, water, and minced ginger until well-combined.
- In a separate smaller bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, baking soda, and ground spices, whisking until well combined. Gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the chocolate until distributed. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or freeze for 1 hour, until dough is easy to handle.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a small cookie scoop, scoop and shape the dough into 1-inch balls by quickly rolling between your hands. Do not handle the dough too much so it doesn’t become too soft. Roll in a bit of sugar, then place on baking tray about 2 inches apart.
- Bake on the middle rack about 10 to 12 minutes, or until tops begin to crack. Cool for 5 minutes in the baking sheet before removing the cookies to cool completely on a wire rack. Enjoy on their own or use as a cookie topper once completely cooled and firmed up. Make sure to store the cookies in an airtight container.
All images and videos on this blog are owned by The Tummy Train and Clarisse Panuelos. Unauthorized use of content, removal of watermark, or edit and reupload is prohibited and will constitute theft.