11 min read
21 Dec
21Dec

Who does not love freshly baked gingerbread cookie aromas in the house during the Christmas period!  Today I am sharing my favorite gingerbread cookies and cupcake recipe. The gingerbread cookies are soft in the centers, crisp on the edges, perfectly spiced, molasses and brown sugar-sweetened holiday goodness.  And, of cores the adorable gingerbread cupcakes are the perfect Holiday dessert recipe! They're full of flavor and topped with a delicious cinnamon cream cheese frosting. 

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Gingerbread Cookies

Whenever I think of Christmas cookies, gingerbread cookies come to mind first. Well, after spending my entire childhood surrounded by them of course! No holiday cookie platter is complete without gingerbread cookies. I love them because they're simple, delicious and fun to make. Their spice, their molasses flavor, their shapes, and their charm are obviously irresistible. Gingerbread cookies, you have my heart. The full written recipe is below, but let’s review a few key ingredients first. Gingerbread cookie recipes all start the same and mine comes from my grandmother. To her recipe, I add a little of date molasses, brown sugar and increase the amount of spice flavors (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice). Because of the added date molasses, I add a little more flour to help soak it all up. But not every gingerbread cookie is created equal. Of course you want to offer your friends and family the best possible cookie. So here are a few tips to help you create the perfect gingerbread cookies.

The extra quantity of flour is for the cookies to keep their shape. Date molasses and extra spices are for the incredible flavor. Egg is used for the cookies to have structure and richness, also to combine all the ingredients. Brown sugar is used to get the right color for the cookies and it gives a excellent extra small touch of taste for the cookies.

Tips How To Make Perfect Gingerbread Cookies

Let’s walk through the gingerbread cookie recipe so you feel confident when you begin baking.  Make sure you make enough time for the baking process for yourself, as good things take time - especially a perfect cookie dough. 

Use room temperature ingredients

It is very important to use room temperature ingredients - like eggs, butter, and other dairy ingredients form an emulsion which traps air. While baking in the oven, that trapped air expands and produces a fluffy baked good. Not to mention the ingredients while you mix them combine better together and is less messy. 

Make sure you chill the dough

The dough is sticky once it’s all beaten together in your mixing bowl and therefore, it absolutely must be chilled for minimum of 3 hours in your fridge, however I do recommend to keep it over night in the fridge for the best dough consistency.  You want your cookie dough firm so the cookies hold their shape and it makes is less likely to stick to the rolling pin or your countertop.  You won’t have either unless you have chilled cookie dough!

Wrap up the dough

It’s easiest to wrap the dough in plastic wrap before chilling. I would also suggest wrap the dough in baking sheet and then wrap it with plastic wrap. Make sure you wrap the dough in a disc shape. You can wrap the cookie dough in medium size disc shapes, it does not need to be in one big shape. Then leave it to chill in the fridge minimum of 3 hours or leave it overnight. Why are you doing this? It’s easier to roll out the chilled cookie dough when it is in a disc shape. Also, the cookie dough chills faster when there is less volume. And it’s just easier to work with smaller portions when rolling/shaping!



Don't Overwork Your Dough

Gingerbread cookies should be firm, but they should be tender, not tough. Toughness is caused by the dough being worked too much-either by overmixing or rerolling too many times. Some recipes have built-in protection against toughness in the form of white vinegar. The acid from the vinegar tenderizes the dough without imparting an off-taste. 



Roll the dough out

After chilling, roll out the chilled cookie dough discs until about 1/4-inch thick. Don’t be afraid to flour your hands, rolling pin, work surface, and everything in the world. By that, I mean: the cookie dough can become sticky as you work. So, don’t be scared to add more flour to the work surface and it helps to make it more easy to roll the dough out and to shape your cookies. Use as much flower as you need - do not hold back. The flour spots on top of your shaped cookie dough will bake off.

Map Out Your Cookie Cuts

Place the cut-out cookies onto a lined baking sheet about 1 inch apart. One trick that I use is that I roll the dough on the silicon baking sheet and cut the cookie shapes on that, after that I just remove the extra dough and it is ready to go to the oven. The cookies won’t really spread, but you want to make sure they have enough room to breathe. Making gingerbread cookies is like a puzzle. Once you've rolled your dough out, take some time to figure out where to place your cookie cutters to optimize space. Place your cutters close together and use smaller cookie cutters for the edges or other small spaces. This will help cut back on extra dough. Sure, you can roll out the scraps, but the more you roll your dough, the less tender it will be.  



Don't Use High Heat

While 170 degrees tends to be the universal oven temperature for most cookies, gingerbread fares best under a slightly lower heat. Since the primary sweeteners in gingerbread cookies are molasses and brown sugar, these cookies have a tendency to burn a bit faster than those made with refined white sugar. For the best results, bake gingerbread cookies at 160 degrees. This will ensure even cooking, with crisp edges and soft centers. 

Keep Your Cookies Fresh 

Cookies are best when they're not much more than a day or two old. Be sure to store them in an airtight container to keep them from drying out. If you love fresh-baked cookies, bake only a few at a time, and freeze the rest of the dough to be used later. You don’t have to bake all the dough at once. Store plastic-wrapped dough in a freezer zip-top bag and freeze for up to 3 months, making sure to label with baking temperature and time. This dough can be frozen up too 3 months.  Want to go a step further? You can also freeze fully baked cookies. Baked and decorated (or not decorated) cookies freeze well – up to three months. Unbaked cookie dough discs (just the dough prepared freeze well – up to three months). 

 


The Recipe For Gingerbread Cookies

  • 145 g unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 150 g dark brown sugar (Dark brown sugar has a deeper molasses flavor, and of course, a deeper color.)
  • 160 ml date molasses ( or use unsulphured molasses)
  • 1 large egg (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla powder
  • 440g all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled -What is this? To spoon and level the flour, you'll start by fluffing the flour a little with a spoon to aerate the flour. Then you'll spoon the flour into the measuring cup. You want to fill the measuring cup all the way to the top and let the flour flow over a little.)
  • 1 teaspoon of Maldon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon grounded ginger
  • If you have the opportunity to get your hands on Santa Maria Gingerbread Spice Mix - use around 9 grams of that spice mix instead of grounded cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, cloves (one bag of that spice mix is good for around 70 cookies and it is so worth it). If you can not get the spice mix, then you can use the below quantities listed for the spices of your gingerbread cookies:
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon grounded cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 



Instructions

In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Mix the brown sugar and molasses in a separate bowl and beat on medium high speed until combined and creamy-looking. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Now mix together the butter and brown sugar, molasses mix into one bowl on medium speed. Next, beat in egg and vanilla on high speed for 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The butter may separate; that’s just fine.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and cloves together until combined. On low speed, slowly 1 cup at a time mix into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick and slightly sticky. Divide dough in half and wrap the dough in a baking paper and then wrap into plastic wrap. Wrap each up tightly and pat down to create a disc shape. Chill the dough for at least 3 hours (recommended to chill over night) and up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory for this cookie dough. 

Preheat oven to 160°C . Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. I personally like to use silicon baking mats.

Remove one of chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator. Generously flour a work surface, as well as your hands and the rolling pin. Roll out the dough until 1/4-inch thick. Tips for rolling– the dough may crack and be crumbly as you roll. What’s helpful is picking it up and rotating it as you go. Additionally, you can use your fingers to help meld the cracking edges back together. The first few rolls are always the hardest since the dough is so stiff, but re-rolling the scraps is much easier. One trick that I use is that I roll the dough on the silicon baking sheet and cut the cookie shapes on that, after that I just remove the extra dough and it is ready to go to the oven. You can always use more flour to add to the rolling of the dough, it also makes it more firmer. Cut into shapes. Place shapes 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets or silicon baking mats. Re-roll dough scraps until all the dough is shaped. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake cookies for about 9-10 minutes. If your cookie cutters are smaller than 4 inches (10 cm), bake for about 8 minutes. If your cookie cutters are larger than 4 inches (10 cm), bake for about 11 minutes. My oven has hot spots and yours may too- so be sure to rotate the pan once during bake time. Keep in mind that the longer the cookies bake, the harder and crunchier they’ll be. For soft gingerbread cookies, follow my suggested bake times.

Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. Once completely cool, decorate as desired. Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Gingerbread Cupcakes

These gingerbread cupcakes are the perfect sweet treat for the Holidays! Each moist gingerbread cake is topped with mixed spice cream cheese frosting and adorned with a mini homemade gingerbread cookie. They’re festive, adorable, and taste so delicious. The difference with this recipe is that these gingerbread cupcakes are actually moist! The inside of these cupcakes is tender and soft with full of delicious Christmas flavors.

Tips How To Make Moist Gingerbread Cupcakes

It’s very easy to have gingerbread cupcakes that sink right down in the middle. To prevent this from happening to you, I have listed below few tips:

Use room temperature ingredients

It is very important to use room temperature ingredients - like eggs, butter, and other dairy ingredients form an emulsion which traps air. While baking in the oven, that trapped air expands and produces a fluffy baked good. Not to mention the ingredients while you mix them combine better together and is less messy.

Pre heat the oven and the cupcake tins

Before you get started on mixing the ingredients, set up your oven temperature first. One special trick I especially use for any baking - is while you pre heat your oven place the cupcake tins inside the oven to also preheat. That helps to bake the cupcakes evenly in the oven after with the mixture inside. 

Carefully measure your ingredients

This may go without saying, but a touch too much sugar or flour and the cupcakes can turn out completely different. Make sure to always level off your cups, and when measuring flour you want to spoon it into your measuring cups without shaking or packing it down into the cup. This will leave you with way too much flour, and also very dry cupcakes.

Fully whip the butter and sugar

Make sure the butter and sugar are pale and fluffy before moving on to the next step. This process whips air into the butter, giving these cakes a bit of a lift.

Alternate wet and dry ingredients 

To not overwhelm the batter, the dry ingredients and milk are added in a very strategic way. First half of the dry ingredients, then the milk, and then the rest of the dry ingredients. This gives the batter a chance to slowly thicken, otherwise you could deflate some of the air that was whipped into the butter.

Look for the right texture

In the end, the batter should mimic the consistency of dense mousse – light and airy but still rich and creamy.



Don’t overfill

This batter should be enough to give you exactly 12 cupcakes, but if you have a smaller pan make sure you only fill the cupcakes 3/4 full. If they’re filled too high they will deflate.

Be patient with the baking time

Now pop the cupcakes in the oven! While they’re baking, resist the urge to open the oven door. Just let them bake up until the 15 minute mark and then check them. If you open the door too soon, the oven temperature will drop. This will make it hard for the heat to fully penetrate the center of the cupcake, thus creating a sunken enter. 

Let the cupcakes cool down

Once you remove the cupcakes from the oven, let them sit in their pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack. This is especially important for cupcakes that aren't in a paper liner, as it will help them from falling apart. However, remove them after five minutes otherwise you risk them going soggy as they cool in the pan. 

The Recipe For Gingerbread Cupcakes

  • 205g all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger (Yes! 2 teaspoons!)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 125g date molasses or unsulfured molasses (on room temperature)
  • 120ml buttermilk or chocolate milk (on room temperature)
  • 100g packed dark brown sugar
  • 110g unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 2 large eggs (on room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla powder



Instructions

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees and put your cupcake tins into the oven to pre heat as well.

Then, in a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and all the spices) and set aside. In a measuring glass, mix together the buttermilk and molasses (make sure they are on room temperature), then set the mixer a aside.

With an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy (again make sure the butter is room temperature soft). Now, for the butter mixer mix in the eggs, one egg at a time, and then the vanilla. Alternatively mix in half of the dry ingredients, then the entire milk/molasses mixture, then the rest of the dry ingredients. Leave the ground ginger as a last ingredient into the mixer. 

You can also make your own buttermilk by mixing together 1/2 cup of whole milk with 1/2 teaspoon of white or AC vinegar. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to curdle.

Now, evenly distribute your batter among the 12 cups, filling them 3/4 of the way. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Try not to open the oven door while the cupcakes are baking. Just let cupcakes bake up until the 15 minute mark and then check them. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting. 

Once you remove the cupcakes from the oven, let them sit in their pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting. You can store the cupcakes in an air tight container in the refrigerator where they should keep for up to 5 days. 

Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

You can top up each cupcake with a silky spiced cream cheese frosting that pairs perfectly with these warm and rich cupcakes. But I also know that cream cheese frosting can be tricky for some, as it doesn’t thicken like your standard buttercream recipe. You only need a few simple ingredients to make cream cheese icing: butter, cream cheese, vanilla, powdered sugar, and just a little pinch of salt to carry the flavors.  But the way they are put together can make all the difference! 

Pick the right cream cheese

These days supermarkets sell cream cheese in 3 different forms: a brick, a spread, and a whipped spread. The spreads come in tubs and they are softer. The bricks are more firm. Bricks are best! They have the lowest water content, so you’re less likely to end up with a soupy or runny frosting. 

Use meringue powder

To prevent the decorative cookie icing from smudging or sticking, I used a quick and easy royal icing that sets up firm. The trick is to use meringue powder, as this takes the place of egg whiles in a typical royal icing recipe. Meringue powder is what allows the icing to set, and luckily it can be found in most chain grocery stores. But if you don’t have meringue powder or can’t find it in stores, you can also use corn syrup as a secondary option.

Here are a few things you can do to ensure your frosting stays put

If the buttercream is too thin once you’ve added all of the ingredients, place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes – 1 hour. This allows the cream cheese to firm up and thicken the buttercream. If you know the buttercream is cold enough, add a couple tablespoons of the meringue powder. Just like royal icing, it will help stabilize the buttercream. Keep your cupcakes cold as your piping on the buttercream. Leave a plate in the refrigerator and place your cupcakes inside right after they’ve been topped with buttercream. This will prevent the cream cheese frosting from losing its shape.

Temperature of ingredients matters a lot

I always get the best results when I use soft, room temperature butter, and cold cream cheese straight from the fridge. If the butter is too cold, the frosting can be lumpy, and if the cream cheese is too soft, the frosting can be runny.

Do not over whip

It’s really easy to over-whip cream cheese frosting. The minute you see it starting to look fluffy and stiff, turn that mixer off! If it goes too long it can become a runny mess.

The Recipe For Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 225g Philadelphia full fat cream cheese (on fridge temperature)
  • 227g unsalted butter (on room temperature)
  • 625g powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon grounded cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt



Instructions

In a separate bowl mix in the powdered sugar, all the spices, salt.  Then start with soft butter. To this, add the cream cheese. The cream cheese should be cold, but the butter should be at room temperature. Add the vanilla extract, and whip everything together until it’s smooth as can be. If you have any lumps at all when the next ingredient goes in, it will be nearly impossible to get rid of them. So do a good job on this step! 

In a separate bowl mix in the powdered sugar, all the spices, salt. Once the cream cheese and butter mixture is smooth and lump-free, add in about half of the powdered sugar and spices mix. Mix it in on medium-low speed, just until combined, then scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula, and add the remaining powdered sugar and the salt. When the last of the powdered sugar and spice mix is mixed in, turn up the mixer to medium-high and whip the frosting until it’s really fluffy. As soon as you see that it can hold stiff peaks, you are good to go!

Fill your piping bag fitted with a large French tip and decorate your cupcakes in a swirl motion. When this spiced cream cheese frosting is fluffy and stiff, it works really well for piping. But if you notice it’s getting too soft from the warmth of your hand, just chill it down in the fridge a bit, until it’s easier to work with. Because this frosting contains powdered sugar, it will crust over as it dries.

Top the cupcakes with your cooled and set gingerbread cookies. Keep them in the fridge if you need to store them for more than a couple hours and eat at room temperature.

Enjoy these wonderful gingerbread cupcakes and cookies full of Christmas flavors! Happy Holiday's!


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