I was telling a group of my students what I did for New Year’s. Namely, I did nothing, or at least nothing particularly exciting. I tried to explain to them that I usually do just that; it’s kind of my New Year’s tradition and I like it just fine. In any case, there’s always something interesting to watch on New Year’s Eve; one year it was a marathon of Kathy Griffin stand up, this year it was a pretty compelling Coldplay concert. But seriously, Chris Martin is pretty amazing on stage. I wanted to go before (and have either been too poor or living in, well, France) and now I really want to see them live. But I digress…
New Year’s is all about the resolutions, apparently, and I should probably post some soup made entirely of vegetables and air (if you’re really looking for something, this one is a classic and my favorite for good ol’ fashioned clean livin’), but instead I’m going to give you this one: gingerbread cupcakes with Meyer Lemon cream cheese frosting. Because for the New Year I was home, had a new oven, a producing lemon tree and less than two weeks to make something fun and new. I was tasked with making a “non chocolate” dessert and this one fit the bill. It was good. Gingerbread-y but not too dense, the lemon cream cheese frosting is a perfect match to the ginger. And I love the bits of lemon zest peeking through the creamy frosting.
Yield: Makes 12 cupcakes
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon thinly sliced crystallized ginger
Into a bowl sift together the flour, the ground ginger, the cinnamon, the cloves, the allspice, and the salt. In another bowl cream 1/2 stick of the butter, add the granulated sugar, and beat the mixture until it is fluffy. Beat in the molasses and the egg, beating until the mixture is smooth. In a measuring cup combine the baking soda with 1/2 cup boiling water and stir the mixture to dissolve the baking soda. Stir the mixture into the molasses mixture (the mixture will appear curdled) and stir the molasses mixture into the flour mixture, stirring to combine the ingredients well. Line twelve 1/2-cup muffin tins with paper liners and spoon the batter into the liners, filling them halfway. Bake the cupcakes in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. (The cupcakes will be flat or slightly indented on top.) Transfer the cupcakes to a rack and let them cool.
In a bowl cream together the cream cheese, and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, add the confectioners' sugar and the vanilla, and beat the mixture until it is fluffy and smooth. Beat in the zest and the lemon juice and chill the frosting for 30 minutes. Spread the frosting on the cupcakes and top each cupcake with some of the crystallized ginger.