Friday, February 20, 2015

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Coffee Icing

I am greatly enamored of spices of all sorts and nothing strikes that note in such a grand way quite as well as gingerbread.  Spice cakes and cookies in general are great standouts but the addition of other ingredients like coffee, molasses and stout beer really add an extra layer of intrigue for me.

These cupcakes are based on a recipe from Karen DeMasco.  They are chock full of a great combination of flavor-rich ingredients that somehow manage to meld beautifully together in concert.  After an initial testing, I did change up some of the ratios in her recipe – I decreased the sugar and leaveners; added a bit more flour and oil and an extra egg; changed up the spices and lowered the baking temperature - but the basic foundation is there.  The result is a soft and delicious little cupcake, a fun and satisfying pastry for ginger and spice lovers. The icing is gooey and a bit rich, so a little goes a long way.  Just bring along a sturdy napkin and your favorite beverage.

Bench notes:
- The original recipe is here
- The heated beer, coffee and molasses mixture will bubble up when the baking soda is added, so choose a saucepan that will accommodate this.
- The icing is gooey so dipping just the peak of the cupcakes will be enough.  It will run down the sides to cover the surface.
- Adjust the flavorings in the icing to suit your own palate.  Or skip the icing and enjoy them plain with a piping hot cup of your favorite coffee.
- The cupcakes can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Coffee Icing
makes 18 cupcakes
3/4 cup (6 oz) stout beer, such as Guinness                
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (3 oz) brewed coffee 
3/4 cup (6 3/4 oz) molasses  
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups (10 oz) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt                           
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger                           
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon            
1 teaspoon cardamom                             
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
pinch cloves            
1/2 cup (4 oz) canola oil
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) dark brown sugar, packed                                     
1 teaspoon (1/4 oz) finely grated fresh ginger 
2 eggs                                                                      

1 cup (4 oz) powdered sugar                                                      
2 oz (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter @ room temperature
2 tablespoons brewed coffee, cooled            
1 teaspoon molasses
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
crystallized ginger, finely chopped, for garnish                                    

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners along with 6 more cups in a second muffin tin.

Bring the beer, coffee, and molasses to a boil, whisking to combine. Remove from the heat and whisk in the baking soda.  The mixture will bubble up, so do take some caution.  Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar and grated fresh ginger. Add the eggs and combine thoroughly.  Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with half the beer mixture and beginning and ending with the flour.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.  Bake until a tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack and cool completely.

For the icing, sift the powdered sugar.  Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth.  Add the coffee and molasses.  Combine the vanilla and espresso powder and add.  Dip the top of each cooled cupcake in the icing.  Garnish with finely chopped candied ginger.


SallyBR said...

This has my name written all over it!

love everything about these cupcakes... I am also in awe that you can tweak a recipe like this, I am soooo insecure when it comes to baking... but what am I talking about? You are a PRO!

Katie said...

Oh, a gingerbread cupcake! I just this week made some gingerbread muffins, adapted from your oatmeal applesauce bread recipe. My additions were 2 tsp ginger and 1/8 tsp cloves (I'm always wary of too much clove), plus 1/4 cup ginger nibs. So yummy. And now you've posted a gingerbread cupcake. Must try!

pastry studio said...

Hi, SallyBR! It's really kind of an odd process when I think about it but I can usually taste what a recipe needs. In this case, it was a delicious cupcake but too sweet for my taste and the structure/texture was a bit off. That can sometimes happen when pastry chefs scale down recipes they use routinely in large scale production with professional ovens. The ratios can sometimes need adjusting for small batch.

Katie, I love your gingerbread muffin idea for the Applesauce Oatmeal Bread. Sounds delicious to me. I agree about clove, a little goes a long way. I saw a recipe for a cake the other day that called for a 1/2 teaspoon. Gasp!!