Gingerbread Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream

About a week ago, Jay asked me if I’d mind baking some treats for him to take to work. I didn’t/don’t fully recall what the reasoning behind it was, but I think his manager is trying to make things a little more festive around the workplace for the holidays. Baked goods are my thing, so I told him I’d bake up a batch of cupcakes. Winter is officially here in full force now, although when I decided on the recipe I’d use, it was still balmy (for December in South Dakota) and I was still hoping for a winter like last year.

That was Christmas Day, 2011. Gods that was a perfect day. We awoke to this today:

Ugh! If I somehow knew that this was all the snow we’d get and it was maybe February or early March, I could live with it. However, I fear this may just be the beginning, and I will soon begin my descent into winter-fueled claustrophobia and depression. And before people like my sister start spouting off about “Well, you chose to move to South Dakota!” or whatever, until you personally deal with the crushing weight of depression or the panic attacks at feeling trapped for what seems like forever in the winter, don’t bother talking to me. You can’t understand. And as I remind Jay every year, it’s not something that can just be turned on or off. I can’t just decide to be happy and Poof! I’m happy! No, it doesn’t work that way.

What I can do to somewhat quell the rising panic I feel and combat the depression is busy myself in the kitchen. I could also exercise, but let’s be honest, I’m probably not going to bother with that. Although, we have a borrowed space heater from one of Jay’s coworkers, so I may get that out tomorrow morning and do yoga. It’ll help.

But so does baking. And I originally decided I’d make Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese frosting. Then I took a look at my pantry. I had less powdered sugar than I thought I did, and I had also decided to make Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting for another project. That would eat up the remaining powdered sugar, so I started looking for Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipes that might pair well with gingerbread. My first thought was a Maple SMB, but all the recipes I found used maple extract, which I do not have (and I’m sure as eff not going anywhere today to get some!). So then I thought I’d just use the recipe I usually use for SMB, but use brown sugar instead of white.


I do hope Jay’s coworkers like them.

Yield: 24-32

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Brown Sugar SMB
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


  • For the cupcakes:
  • 1 C unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 C packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 C water
  • 1 C molasses
  • 2 2/3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • For the Frosting:
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 C packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 C unsalted butter (3 sticks), cut into small cubes


To make the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, nutmeg and allspice in a medium bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium speed. Beat in the eggs. On low speed, add in water and molasses, then the flour mixture.

Fill the liners 2/3 full, and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool in the pans 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting:

Cut the butter into small cubes and set aside. Wipe the bowl and whisk attachment of a stand mixer, along with a hand whisk with a vinegar-soaked paper towel. Whisk together the brown sugar and the egg whites, and continue whisking over a double boiler, for about 5-7 minutes, until the sugar crystals have melted (check by rubbing a bit of the mixture between your fingers--It should feel smooth, not grainy).

Place the bowl onto the stand mixer and begin whipping the egg whites and sugar with the whisk attachment on high speed until the bowl has cooled. This can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes.

Once the bowl is cool to the touch, reduce the speed to medium-low and begin adding the butter, a couple tablespoons at a time. Once all the butter has been added, switch to the paddle attachment, and on medium-high, beat the mixture for about 5 minutes (the mixture may looked curdled--This is normal. Continue to beat it and it will come together).

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