I was inspired to make these cupcakes after trying a gingerbread icebox cupcake from Lark Cake Shop in Los Angeles and immediately wanting to eat five more. My version is a little chubbier and less cream-laden, almost like a whoopie pie in texture. Sweetened with molasses and brown sugar, they are decadent without being tooth-achingly sweet, allowing the spices to shine through.
With the dough-chilling and cupcake-setting time required, this is not a quick recipe, but these unique little cakes are worth the wait.
A few notes on the recipe:
• Although I offer my go-to gingerbread cookie recipe here, these cupcakes can be made with any crisp ginger cookie.
• Don't forget to replace your spices if they've been sitting around for awhile. I bought a fresh bottle of ground cloves just before making this batch and couldn't believe the difference in taste and smell. (And the smell of gingerbread is at least 50% of the experience!)
• Rolling and cutting out the dough results in more uniformly-shaped cupcakes, but the dough can easily be shaped into logs, chilled and sliced into rounds instead.
For the cookies:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
For the whipped cream:
1 cup whipping cream
1-2 tablespoons confectioners sugar (depending on desired sweetness)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the cookies: Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy and light-colored, about 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses and egg. With a spoon, gradually mix in the flour mixture to make a stiff dough. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in wax paper or plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. (The dough can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Working with one batch of dough at a time, roll out on floured surface until dough is about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out with 2-inch circle cookie cutter and place the cookies about 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are browned slightly. Cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
When the cookies are cool, beat together the whipping cream, confectioners sugar and vanilla until the whipped cream holds firm peaks.
Assemble the cupcakes: Spread about a tablespoon of whipped cream on top of a cookie and place in a cupcake liner. Repeat with two more cookies, stacking them on top of the first. Continue building triple-decker cupcakes until all the cookies have been used and place in an airtight container. Put cupcakes in the refrigerator and let sit overnight, until the cookies have softened.
(Images: Anjali Prasertong)