I’ve had two things sitting in my kitchen that I’ve been dying to use for almost a year now. Some shallow, 3 1/2-inch wide snowflake baking cups from IKEA and a Lebkuchen spice mix I got at a Christmas Market in Berlin.
The Lebkuchen spices are similar to those in gingerbread here in the States and I’d already made some ginger cookies. Not to mention, cookies weren’t going to help me use those baking cups. So I switched gears and baked up gingerbread cakes. They were perfect for both the cups and spices.
I think gingerbread is only made better when orange zest is added so I decided to bring that to the cakes in the frosting. This buttercream is full of citrus flavor! Together they make the best holiday dessert.
Just a few notes. Don’t feel like you need to have these baking cups. This recipe made 5 decent size cakes in the cups, so it can easily be switched over to a standard six-muffin or cupcake tin. I like the frosting on my cupcakes to have as much of the spotlight as the cake so the serving on each is generous. I know this isn’t the case for everyone, so you may have a little leftover if you don’t spread it on thick.
I did some searching and gingerbread spice mix can be ordered online. I believe King Arthur Flour sells a version. But if you can’t get your hands on any, simply make a mix of your favorite spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, etc.) that add up to 1 teaspoon as a substitute. This also allows you to customize the cakes. If you don’t like clove, for example, skip it and add more cinnamon.
These were great by themselves, but I’m not going to turn down the idea of serving them with a scoop of eggnog or peppermint stick ice cream.
- 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil, softened*
- 1/4 cup raw sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon gingerbread spice mix
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine ground sea salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 3 teaspoons fresh orange juice
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 to 3 tablespoons milk (any variety)
- 1/4 teaspoon fine ground sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If using baking cups, arrange on a baking sheet. Or use a non-stick muffin pan lined with baking cups.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the coconut oil and sugar on medium-high for 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the molasses and then the eggs.
- In a small bowl, stir together the flour, spice mix, baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix just until all the ingredients are combined.
- Transfer an equal amount of batter into each baking cup. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- To make the frosting, add the butter to a bowl of an electric mixer. With the mixer on low, slowly add the powdered sugar. Increase the speed to blend the butter and powdered sugar for 1 minute. Add the juice, zest and vanilla. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add 1 tablespoon of milk and continue to mix on medium-high. Continue to add the milk, one teaspoon at a time until the frosting reaches a spreadable consistency. Once it is there, add the salt and mix on medium-high for 3 minutes.
- Frost each cupcake with a generous amount of buttercream. Sprinkle with orange zest, if desired, and serve.
- * When I bake with coconut oil I make sure it is about the consistency of softened butter.