Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gingerbread Popcorn Cupcakes - for Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge #7

When I looked at this month's Mystery Box challenge and saw the familiar red and white striped box, I was stunned at the fortuitous timing. I am not usually a popcorn fan, but I had just (the day before) experienced popcorn nirvana for the first time: Gingerbread Popcorn. That's right. Sweet, spicy, crunchy, tooth-rotting goodness. A dentist's worst nightmare, but the hit of the New Year's party I brought it to. Now this is some popcorn I can truly love.

Obviously, this had to inspire a cupcake. Although I thought my holiday cooking spree had finally ended, I decided to welcome a new year of baking with these Gingerbread Popcorn Cupcakes. They are gingerbread cupcakes with a butterscotch swirl (for just a hint of buttery popcorn-like flavor) and topped with cream cheese frosting and, of course, gingerbread popcorn. The butterscotch may sound like an odd thing to add to a gingerbread cupcake, but it makes them richer and adds a complexity that really highlights the gingerbread flavor quite well.

Gingerbread-Butterscotch Swirl Cupcakes
Adapted from
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup hot milk
  • butterscotch topping (as much as you want - I probably used about 3-4 Tbsp.)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter or line with paper liners a 12-cup muffin tin.
  2. Cream 5 tablespoons of the butter with the white sugar. Add the molasses and the egg and egg yolk.
  3. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt. Dissolve the baking soda in the hot milk. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the hot milk mixture. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared tin, filling each cup no more than 3/4 full.
  4. Spoon butterscotch topping on top of cupcake batter and swirl gently into batter.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 18-20 minutes or until slightly springy to the touch. Allow to cool a few minutes in the pan and remove to a rack to cool. 
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 cups + 2-4 Tbsp. sifted confectioners' sugar, to desired stiffness
  1. Cream the 2 tablespoons butter and the cream cheese together until light and fluffy. 
  2. Add the vanilla extract and milk and mix until combined. 
  3. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat until smooth and thick.

This is some seriously good frosting.

Gingerbread Popcorn
Note: This makes much more popcorn than you will need for the cupcakes, but you will be grateful for the extra, believe me.

15 cups popped popcorn
16 tablespoons (1 cup or 2 sticks) butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 250

Line 2 large baking dishes (I used 9" X 13" pans) with foil and coat with cooking spray. Fill each with 7 1/2 cups popcorn.

Combine butter, brown sugar, molasses, corn syrup, ginger, cinnamon, and salt in a large, heavy bottom saucepan. Heat over medium heat until mixture boils. Boil for 5 minutes; stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Pour over popcorn; toss to coat.

Bake at 250 for one hour, carefully stirring the warm mixture about every 15 minutes. Cool completely.

Happy Holidays, everyone. =)

The winner of January’s Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge will receive prizes from:
Thank you to all our prize sponsors!


LambAround said...

I love the way you used the cupcakes to accent your cute snowman plates! :)

Galexi Cupcakes said...

Looks great...Good luck!!

Sourkraut said...

These look amazing and they're so creative and inspired! You got my vote.

angela said...

These look great!! Very interesting idea! Good luck in the voting round!

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

What a fascinating combination! I love that this challenge made us all think so hard and come up with interesting entries. Great job!

Adele said...

By far the most interesting recipe I've come across in a long time. Thanks very much.