Yield: 6 gingerbread cupcakes // Total Time: 40 min. // Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links. //
Light and fluffy gingerbread cupcakes, filled with gingerbread flavor, topped with a cream cheese frosting and finished off with a shortbread gingerbread man.
Small batch gingerbread cupcakes
The main flavor I think of around the holiday season is definitely gingerbread and all of it’s warm spices. These cupcakes are super light and fluffy (thanks to the reverse creaming method!), and filled with gingerbread spices that pair perfectly with the tangy cream cheese frosting. Top these off with a gingerbread man for an extra festive cupcake! Below you’ll find all the tips and tricks you’ll need to make these delicious small batch gingerbread cupcakes.
Why do you post small batch recipes?
I love making small batch bakes because they are the perfect size myself and others who don’t have a lot of people to bake for in their home. Small batch helps cut down on waste and eliminates the feeling that all that excess dessert MUST be eaten. Here on my blog I post a lot of small batch bakes with a mix of some 8-10″ single layer cakes from time to time. All my recipes can easily be doubled or tripled to fit your need, so long as you use grams to measure!
Weigh your ingredients
- Weighing your ingredients is important for getting the recipe perfect and getting consistent results. Not weighing your ingredients can lead to adding too much or too little of an ingredient and can easily throw off a recipe. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend purchasing a kitchen scale. This one is super cheap and worked well for me when I was starting out!
Mix the batter carefully
- It is super important to not overmix the cupcake batter or you will end up with tough and chewy cupcakes. Using the reverse creaming method makes it more difficult to overmix the batter, but it’s still good to be aware of how much you are mixing it. Only mix just until all of the ingredients are cohesive.
Room temperature ingredients
- It is important for the ingredients to be at room temperature so that they properly incorporate with each other. Take out the egg and butter at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hr 30 min. before starting the recipe. To bring an egg to room temperature quickly, you can place it under hot water for 1 minute. To bring butter to room temperature quickly, slice it, place it on a plate, and microwave it in 5 second intervals. For buttermilk, you can also microwave it in 5 second intervals until it’s no longer cold (but not hot!)
Keep an eye on those cupcakes!
- Cupcakes like to go from under-baked to over-baked super quickly so it is important to keep a close eye on them. Start checking at 15 minutes with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out wet, check them again in 2 minutes and so on until only a few moist crumbs stick to the toothpick.
Make the gingerbread men “stand up” in the cupcakes
- The frosting doesn’t harden much since the base is made of cream cheese, which means the gingerbread men stuck in it kind of want to fall over. My solution is to stick a toothpick into the cupcake and lean the gingerbread men on to the toothpick. Works like a charm (just be sure to warn any unsuspecting cupcake eaters!)
Ingredients and substitutions
For the gingerbread cupcakes:
All purpose flour: gives the cupcakes their structure.
Baking powder: for helping the cupcakes rise.
Salt: for balancing and bringing out the sweetness of the batter.
Ground ginger, cinnamon & cloves: for gingerbread spice.
Unsalted butter: for tenderizing the cupcakes and adding that nice buttery flavor to them. You can substitute in salted butter, just be sure to omit the extra salt in the batter.
Vegetable oil: for tenderizing the cupcakes. If you don’t have vegetable oil on hand, you can use another neutral oil such as canola.
Dark brown sugar: for sweetness, moisture, and that classic molasses flavor that accompanies gingerbread. I highly recommend using dark brown sugar for the best flavor and color to the cupcakes, but in a pinch you can substitute in light brown sugar.
Egg: for binding the batter together and adding moisture.
Vanilla: for flavor. I use and love this vanilla extract!
Buttermilk: for tenderizing the cupcakes and adding moisture. I recommend using full fat buttermilk for the best texture. I highly recommend using buttermilk but I know it can be hard or annoying to purchase, especially if you don’t plan on using it for anything else. It won’t be completely the same, but you can make a homemade buttermilk substitute. For this recipe, simply combine 5 mL lemon juice with 75 mL whole milk at the beginning of the recipe. You can also achieve a similar result from using a mixture of 30g sour cream + 50g whole milk.
For the cream cheese frosting:
Cream cheese: the base of the frosting, has a slight tanginess that compliments the sweet gingerbread cupcakes. I recommend using full-fat, but neufchatel will work as well!
Unsalted butter: helps stabilize the cream cheese frosting. You can use salted butter in place of the unsalted, just be sure to omit the extra salt.
Salt: balances and brings out the sweetness and flavor of the frosting.
Powdered sugar: for sweetening and thickening up the frosting.
Vanilla: for flavor.
How to: small batch gingerbread cupcakes
Here are the steps to follow to make these cupcakes. You can find the complete recipe (which is printable!) at the end of this blog post.
1. Beat the butter and oil into the dry ingredients. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, spices, butter, and oil into a medium sized mixing bowl. Beat the mixture together until no clumps of butter remain.
2. Add in the wet ingredients. Add in the egg, vanilla, and buttermilk. Whisk the mixture together just until a cohesive batter forms.
3. Bake. Portion out the cupcakes into six parchment liners. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of them comes out clean.
4. (Optional) Make the gingerbread men. An optional step, but allows you to put some cute little gingerbread men on top of each cupcake! Here is my recipe for the shortbread gingerbread cookies. The recipe makes a lot more than you will need, but they can easily be frozen, gifted, or eaten as a snack!
5. Make the cream cheese frosting. In a small mixing bowl, beat together the butter, cream cheese, and salt until the mixture is smooth. Then, slowly beat in the powdered sugar, followed by the vanilla.
6. Frost the cupcakes. Once the cupcakes have cooled completely to room temperature, you can frost them! Transfer the cream cheese frosting to a piping bag with your piping tip of choice (I used Wilton #1M)
7. Serve and enjoy! Pipe a generous amount of frosting on to each cupcake, then top with a gingerbread man. Serve and enjoy!
Small batch gingerbread cupcakes Q & A
Can I double this recipe?
- Of course! Obviously they will not be small batch anymore but small batch isn’t always what we need! I even more strongly recommend measuring by weight if you are going to double the recipe for the best results.
How should I store these cupcakes?
- Because the frosting has cream cheese in it, it does need to be refrigerated. I’d recommend waiting to frost these until up to 2 hours before serving them for the best food safety practices. Otherwise, you can store the unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature, and the frosting in the fridge.
Why do you measure in grams?
My recipes are all written in grams because it is the most accurate way to bake. When you use a kitchen scale, you ensure that your baked goods turn out as close to the written recipe as possible. Plus, the cleanup is way easier when using a scale! I will provide standard cup measurements but please note that I have not tested the recipe using cup measurements and therefore can not guarantee your recipe will come out how mine did. Here is my favorite kitchen scale, and here’s an article about why I use a kitchen scale, and why you should too!
A note on oven temperature
Ovens vary and fluctuate in temperature. For example, I always have to set my oven to 330°F if I want it to bake at 350°F. If you love to bake like I do, I highly recommend getting an oven thermometer. They are super helpful for letting you know when your oven might be lying to you! I use this one.
Tools and ingredients
You can find all my favorite tools and ingredients that I use on my Amazon Storefront page, here!
Did you make these small batch gingerbread cupcakes?
If you made these small batch gingerbread cupcakes I would love to see them and know your thoughts! Please leave a comment and review down below, and tag me on Instagram @freshbeanbakery. If you have any questions about the recipe I will gladly do my best to answer them in the comments below!
Small Batch Gingerbread Cupcakes
- 100 g all purpose flour (¾ c. + 1 tbsp.)
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground cloves
- 90 g dark brown sugar (¼ c. + 3 tbsp.)
- 41 g unsalted butter cubed, room temperature (3 tbsp.)
- 32 g vegetable oil (2 ½ tbsp.)
- 1 egg room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 80 g buttermilk room temperature (3 oz.)
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 120 g cream cheese room temperature (½ c.)
- 70 g unsalted butter room temperature (¼ c. + 1 tbsp.)
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 180 g powdered sugar (1 ½ c.)
- ½ tsp. vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line a muffin tin with six parchment liners.
- Add the flour, baking powder, salt, spices, sugar, cubed butter, and oil into a medium sized mixing bowl. Beat the mixture together until no clumps of butter remain.
- Add in the egg, vanilla, and buttermilk. Whisk the mixture together just until a cohesive batter forms.
- Portion out the cupcakes into the six parchment liners. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out with only a few moist crumbs on it.
- Allow the cupcakes to completely cool down to room temperature before frosting them. If you are planning on making your own gingerbread men, I would recommend doing it at this point!
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a small mixing bowl, beat together the butter, cream cheese, and salt until the mixture is smooth. Then, slowly beat in the powdered sugar, followed by the vanilla.
- Transfer the cream cheese frosting to a piping bag with your piping tip of choice (I used Wilton #1M) Pipe a generous amount of frosting on to each cupcake, then top them each with a gingerbread man.
- Serve and enjoy!
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