Comet the reindeer is here with his Gingerbread Cupcakes topped with a luscious eggnog icing and filled with cranberry sauce! You can make everything from scratch or you can choose store-bought eggnog and cranberry sauce - it's all up to you, but I'm providing recipes for everything anyway.
These cupcakes are fluffy and filled with gingerbread spice, ranging from cloves to cinnamon and ginger but also a hint of tangerine or orange (depending on availability). Those spices pair beautifully with my homemade cranberry sauce made with orange liqueur and a simple cream cheese frosting made with Dasher's creamy eggnog.
I'm also topping it all with some sugared cranberries that has been soaking in red wine - I meannn YUM.
Santa's Reindeer Eggnog Series
You may or may not be sensing a theme here, but yes, I have a long running eggnog series, one recipe per Santa's reindeer. It is mega cheesy, but I love it. I love eggnog so much and I obviously use it to pretty much anything!
- Dasher's creamy eggnog is the base of all my eggnog recipes and I always make a minimum of two batches each Christmas. One for drinking and one for a new eggnog recipe!
- Dancer's Christmas pavlova with whipped eggnog cream and a cherry sauce is perfect for make ahead festivities. Just simply assemble right before serving.
- Prancer's eggnog white Russian when you want to spike your drinks a little extra. Coffee and eggnog is a not-so-surprising delicious combination.
- Vixen's eggnog cookies with a delicious brown butter maple frosting. Soft and chewy cookies that I know Santa would love too!
- Comet's gingerbread cupcakes - as you're reading!
- Cupid's peppermint eggnog dalgona is not made with Dasher's eggnog but rather a plain eggnog without the warming spices - to make room for the yummy peppermint! There is also a chocolate version tucked in there.
- And the last one (currently), Donner's croissant French toast casserole. A soft, buttery pudding with crunchy topping. Filled with Christmas flavors like eggnog, cranberries and orange. Perfect for a lazy Christmas morning.
Yes, this is not all of Santa's reindeer. But I couldn't make all of the recipes at once, could I? No matter how fun they are, I am spacing them with about one recipe each year. Last year, even though Prancer was there first, Cupid rushed into the race with her dalgona to spread some extra Christmas cheer during an otherwise extremely boring year.
Anyway, if you have any ideas for what you would like to see in the future, just DM me on Instagram (@thegingerwithspice), send me an e-mail or just comment on this post. I am all ears and I want to make things YOU want to see too of course!
What is gingerbread?
What makes these cupcakes gingerbread cupcakes exactly? Well, it's all about the spice mix. Sure, you can use pumpkin spice or even chai mix and these cupcakes would be delicious. However, gingerbread spice is a lot more balanced in that it has more equal ratios of the spices.
The best spice mix, in my opinion, is an equal blend of
- ground ginger
- and nutmeg
You can omit or add to your own liking of course. Norwegian gingerbread cookies also contain light syrup, so that's part of the sugar in this recipe as well. However, if you can't find light syrup, you can also use honey!
Eggnog cream cheese icing
It wouldn't be Comet's recipe if it didn't contain any eggnog! Yes, I add a little eggnog in the cupcakes as well, but the real kicker is this eggnog cream cheese icing. Tangy, creamy and so comforting.
To make it, it is first really important that you start with softened butter (around 18C or 65F, read Sally's Baking Addiction post on room temperature butter if you want more information). In a large bowl, mix butter until creamy at least a couple of minutes, add in the cream cheese, then sift the powdered sugar and salt in.
Add in the rum extract if using (which I highly recommend btw). Now pour in eggnog, just a tablespoon at the time, until you reach your desired consistency. This frosting is pretty firm, so it can be hard to pipe, but it tastes amazing.
Using cream cheese is my favorite for cupcakes, although I use a lot of buttercream as well. It's not like you have to always use the same frosting when making cupcakes. Other frostings you could use:
- Brown butter buttercream frosting (actually tastes like gingerbread!)
- Classic cream cheese frosting
- Chocolate orange buttercream
- Baileys coffee frosting
- Coffee buttercream
Cranberry sauce filling
What makes these cupcakes extra luscious, is this cranberry sauce filling. I use my own orange cranberry sauce with a little orange liqueur, and I highly recommend that you try that. It takes roughly 15 minute + cool time, and it's so worth it. However, there is absolutely no shame in using store-bought cranberry sauce.
It is a great recipe if you have a little extra cranberry sauce after the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, but I actually make a batch just to have it in sweets like these gingerbread cupcakes but also this coconut trifle and cranberry sauce oatmeal muffins.
You could also use another jam if that is what you have. I'm thinking orange marmalade could be pretty delicious as well.
Curdled cake batter?
Rule #1 for these cupcakes is that everything needs to be room temperature. If not, you run the risk of things curdling a bit. Which had happened to some degree in the step-by-step photos as well. However, if it isn't too much, the cupcakes still turn out super fluffy and delicious.
I am usually not the best when it comes to room temperature, for one, my house is cold, and two, I often impulsively want to bake. You can overcome this slight issue by always having butter on the counter (yes, you should start with this). However, you can nuke it a little in the microwave, but do not go overboard with this.
Same with the eggnog, 15 seconds in the microwave is usually enough.
But the eggs should be whisked together in a bain-marie. That is, add eggs to a large glass bowl and put on top of a saucepan with simmering water. Make sure the water will not touch the glass bowl. Whisk together for about 30 seconds or until the eggs are 70F (21C). Add to a jug or something that makes it easier to pour into the batter.
How to make the cupcakes
Pre-heat oven to 350 fahrenheit (175 celcius) and add liners to 2 muffin tins. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices (1). In another bowl, using a handheld or stand mixer, cream the softened butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, about 8 minutes (2). Yes, it takes that long for it to be super white and fluffylicious.
Whip the room temperature eggs* together and slowly pour into the sugar butter while you constantly whisk. If you don't have room temperature eggs, please read above paragraph first!
* I decided after this photo shoot to whip the eggs together instead, so disregard image (3) where I add eggs one at a time. Whisking them together and slowly pouring ensures less curdling!
Then add in vanilla extract and syrup/honey (4). Mix and finally slowly pour in eggnog and zest of 2 clementines/tangerines or 1 orange (5). Now add in the dry ingredients, carefully mix together, either using the low setting on the mixer or just a spatula (6). Do not over-mix! Pour in lined muffin tins, about ⅔ the way up (7).
Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out relatively clean (8). Cool on a wire rack. Meanwhile, make the eggnog icing as stated above. Once the cupcakes are cool, using a knife, cut a hollow in each cupcake. Make sure you don’t go all the way to the bottom, but about halfway down into the cupcake.
Add the cranberry sauce into the hollows, about 1-2 teaspoon in each. It is easier if you put the sauce in a piping bag with a large round tip. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of water to the cranberry sauce to make it a little more runny.
Frost the cupcakes with the eggnog cream cheese frosting and decorate with sugared cranberries and a little gold dust, if desired.
To me, these are the absolute perfect Christmas cupcakes! Serve with extra eggnog on the side or perhaps a Nordic gløgg! For Easter, make these cuter Easter egg nest coconut cupcakes with chocolate orange frosting!
Did you like this recipe? Here are more Christmas treats I think you would like:
- Norwegian Christmas men cookies
- Chocolate crinkle cookies
- Swedish cardamom buns (not strictly Christmas, but still!)
- Scandinavian saffron buns (but these are Christmassy)
- Peppermint white chocolate cookies
- Sugar cranberries in red wine
- Easy peppermint patties
- ... or simply check out my Winter & Christmas category for the latest!
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later! To make sure you’re never missing another recipe, please feel free to subscribe to my newsletter. As a thanks you will receive a free e-cookbook Travels Through the Seasons, with many delicious recipes from around the world that suit different seasons of the year.
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