Delicious, festive Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and cute pretzel Christmas tree toppers!
Aren’t these gingerbread cupackes about the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? When my daughter got home from school, I showed them to her and she exclaimed, “Pinterest lives at our house!” It’s true. I did get the idea for these when I was scouring Pinterest for my post for 20 Classy Christmas Cakes. I included this recipe for Chocolate Coconut Winter Wonderland Cake, and have not been able to stop thinking about the Christmas tree toppers ever since! In that recipe, they use Pocky (a Japanese candy that is basically a crunchy stick dipped in chocolate). I decided to use pretzels because they were shorter and would work well with cupcakes. I also love the sweet and salty combination that you get with pretzels and white chocolate.
Tips for making the Christmas tree toppers:
- Lay out pretzel sticks on parchment paper about two inches apart.
- Melt some white chocolate candy. I highly suggest the Wilton Candy Melts, not just white chocolate chips. The candy melts are a little more liquid when warm, and also firm up quickly and nicely.
- Cut the tip off a plastic sandwich bag and put your melted white chocolate in there. Just cut off a tiny piece of the corner. I do not suggest using metal cake decorating tips. Once the chocolate hardens in the bag, you will not be able to put it in the microwave to warm it back up, and your tip will be stuck at the bottom of the bag with the hardened chocolate. If your chocolate does harden (and you are just using a plastic bag without a tip), you can put the bag in the microwave for a few seconds to melt the chocolate again.
- Begin gently squeezing the white chocolate a little above the pretzel directly onto the parchment paper. (This will make your tree a little taller and leave more room for the bottom of the pretzel to stick into the cupcake). Move the chocolate back and forth in a tight zig-zag motion over the top of the pretzel, gradually widening your strokes. I tried doing other designs, like loops, but discovered that the simple back and forth design looked the best.
- Drop sprinkles or other candy decorations over the melted chocolate to decorate the trees. I made about three trees with the chocolate, then stopped to decorate before the chocolate could begin to harden.
- Let the completed trees sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator for about half an hour to harden. Trees should easily release from the parchment paper.
Now I need to tell you that the first time I made the actual gingerbread cupcakes, they were a DISASTER. I was trying a new recipe, and something was really wrong with it. I followed it exactly, but the batter was WAY too runny, and it spilled over the edges of the cupcake tins in the oven, and the centers of the cupcakes sank down so low that you’d think you were staring into a black hole. I was going to take pictures to show you what they looked like, but the scenes from this culiary horror show would have haunted you in your dreams.
Alas, I was making these for a church activity, and I now had to start all over. And of course I was out of molasses, so I had to run to Target to get some more. But I wasn’t panicking yet. I just imagined I was on the Great British Bake Off and only had four hours to complete my bake. (Really, I just had to get this all done in time so I could take pictures while the sun was still up! It sets at 4:30 here at this time of year!)
So ANYHOW, I found Martha Stewart’s Gingerbread Layer Cake with Creamy Mascarpone Frosting recipe. And then I changed it, because its batter was ALSO too runny. But I am pleased to announce that with my tweaks, the recipe for these cupcakes is now perfect, and you will not have to create fake cupcakes that are really just doughnuts with an obscene amount of frosting filling the hole so they can look like cupcakes.
Tips for making the gingerbread cupcakes:
- This recipe makes 48 cupcakes. That is a lot! Feel free to cut the recipe in half.
- Use a large cookie scoop to portion out the batter into the cupcake liners. Use one heaping scoop–no more! Your cupcakes will overflow if you add more than this. I repeat! Do not fill the cupcakes more than 2/3 full. Half full is best for this recipe.
- For more ginger kick, you can add 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger.
- Make sure the cupcakes have cooled completely before adding the frosting.
Now the frosting for these cupcakes is divine. It is the Favorite Cream Cheese Frosting recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I LOVE this stuff, and it is the perfect complement to these spicy, rich cupcakes. To dress up the tops of the cupcakes, I added some sweetened, shredded coconut. But I know that not everybody likes coconut, so feel free to just use the frosting.
Then just pop a cute Christmas tree topper into the center, and you have a perfect, adorable Christmas treat.
I am happy to report that I got these all done in time to take pictures before the sun set. I was also able to transport them to the church Christmas party, driving very slowly through a neighborhood with 20 billion speedbumps, surely annoying all the cars behind me because I was driving like a lost grandma! (No offense to any grandmas who have been lost). But it was worth it! Everyone at the party raved and just thought they were the most marvelous cupcakes ever. And yeah. They pretty-much are 🙂
Delicious, flavorful Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and delightful pretzel and white chocolate Christmas tree toppers.
- 1 cup butter (two sticks), room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups light brown sugar, packed
- 1 1/3 cups unsulphured molasses
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups boiling water
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar (plus more if needed)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 48 pretzel sticks
- white chocolate candy melts (amount will vary)
- candy sprinkles (any variety)
- 1 (15 ounce) bag sweetened, shredded coconut
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake tins with 48 liners.
Combine boiling water and baking soda and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Mix well. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, beat the butter on high speed until pale and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time and mix until well-incorporated.
Add the molasses and mix well.
Alternate adding the flour mixture and the water/baking soda mixture a little at a time.
Divide heaping scoop-fuls of batter into the cupcake liners using a large cookie scoop. Do not overfill the liners! If you are unsure, just bake one pan first before filling the rest of your liners so you can test the amount.
Bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool completely. Then frost with the cream cheese frosting and top with shredded coconut and a pretzel Christmas tree topper.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed.
Add the vanilla, salt (if using) and powdered sugar. Beat on low speed until everything is mixed in. Then beat on high speed for about two minutes. If you want thicker frosting, add more powdered sugar in small increments.
Lay out your pretzel sticks on parchment paper, about two inches apart.
Melt your white chocolate on the defrost setting in your microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Transfer to a plastic sandwich bag and cut off a tiny portion of one corner of the bag.
Gently squeeze the chocolate in a zig-zag fashion back and forth across the pretzel, starting a little above the pretzel (directly onto the parchment paper).
Decorate with sprinkles before the chocolate hardens.
Allow to set and harden for about 30 minutes.