Recipe :: Gingerbread Cupcakes with Eggnog Buttercream Icing

Dec 5, 2012 by

The holidays are in full swing all around us, as I am sure you have noticed.

That means a lot of running around trying to meet year-end deadlines, buy clever but not outrageously expensive gifts for our beloveds, and also the attendance of lots of soirées, gift exchanges, and get-togethers.  That means plenty of opportunities to do holiday baking, which is one of my favorite kinds of cooking.

Recently, for Barter’s big holiday auction/party/potluck (which raises money for United Way), I had a flash of inspiration: what’s more “holiday snack” than eating a gingerbread man and sipping eggnog?  Could this experience be improved upon, or at least streamlined?  I’m happy to tell you that it can.  These cupcakes have the deep, slow flavor of gingerbread, without the density.  And the eggnog buttercream makes an impeccable sweet, spicy compliment.  Majesty and cheer in a tiny, impressive-looking, delicious-tasting package.

I have found that this frosting is a little runny, even when chilled, so don’t try to make any fancy swirlies with it; lay it on, add some sprinkles maybe, then stick the cupcakes in the fridge for a bit until they set.  The result will be an even, shiny, eggnoggy layer that happily resembles a frosted gingerbread man.  Bring them to holiday parties and feast in good health!

Gingerbread Cupcakes


  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp rum extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft or melted
  • 2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsulphered molasses or Steen’s Syrup, if you are a southern gal
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten


  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 10 jumbo muffin tins with paper baking cups, and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. In a bowl, combine boiling water and baking soda; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, ground spices, salt, and baking powder; set aside.
  • In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light. Beat in the brown sugar until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses, baking-soda mixture, and flour mixture. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and rum extract.
  • Fill the cupcake papers three-quarters full, making sure that the batter is divided evenly. Bake cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center of them comes out clean, about 20-30 minutes. Let cupcakes cool a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Eggnog Buttercream Frosting


  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. rum extract or vanilla extract, or one of each
  • 2-4 Tbsp. eggnog
  • 1 tsp nutmeg plus more for dusting


  • Beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and half the eggnog.
  • Add the extract and nutmeg.
  • Beat, adding second half of eggnog one tbsp at a time until you reach your desired consistency.



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