November’s theme for the 5th Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge was ginger. If that’s not a perfect flavor for this season, I don’t know what is! I started brainstorming right away to create something seasonal, but that wasn’t gingerbread or pumpkin-flavored. (As Jamieanne points out, the idea of this challenge is to bake creatively!)
I’ll tell you, I really look forward to the Mystery Box challenge every month because it’s really expanded my horizons. As much as I love the freedom to make whatever I want, I also appreciate the opportunity to work with an ingredient I might otherwise be neglecting. Yes, I will make my share of ginger cookies in the upcoming months, but it’s probably not something I would have used in cupcakes, certainly not as the focal point.
The idea of using 3 kinds of ginger? Totally inspired while walking through the food store buying my ingredients. As for using carrots, I always enjoy carrot ginger soup – any soup, really, when it’s chilly out – and I thought I could recreate that warm, cuddly feeling I normally get from a bowl, but in a cupcake form.
As for the topping, I had briefly considered a cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Once the cupcakes cooled, however, I tried a bite of one (I made 2 mini taste-tester cupcakes for myself, am I sick or what?) with some leftover frosting from a recent batch of Pumpkin Whoopie Pies and realized it was way too rich. My original choice, and the one I ended up using, was a simple whipped cream. There is so much flavor in the cupcake itself that the idea of some sort of spiced frosting, yes I considered incorporating additional ginger into the frosting, was overwhelming to me. In the end, the simple flavor of the cream balanced nicely with the rich flavors of the ginger and carrot.
So there you have it; a delicious, seasonal cupcake – festively orange in color and warming with a kick of ginger. Substitute one of these for a bowl of soup any day.
TRIPLE GINGER CARROT CUPCAKES – Makes 12
- 6 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup (1/2 lb) pureed carrots (about 4 sizable carrots) – I cooked mine first before pureeing
- 1 cup + 2 Tbsp AP flour
- 2 Tbsp crystallized (candied) ginger, chopped finely
- 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger (If not using the other types of ginger, up this to 1 tsp)
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
Start off, if you choose, by boiling or steaming the carrots so they’re tender. I thought this would be the best way to get them to a better puree consistency, rather than grating them or processing them cold. I also find cooking them brings out the sweetness, but I’m sure this recipe will work just as well with raw, processed carrots. It took me about 15-20 minutes of boiling (some carrots were thicker than others).
Then preheat your oven to 350ºF and line 12 muffin tins with papers.
Cream together your butter and sugar. In a separate bowl mix together your dry ingredients – flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and the dry spices. When those are combined, chop up and add your candied ginger. This way it will get coated with flour and not all sink to the bottom of each cupcake. (The candied ginger adds a gummy texture to the cupcakes when they bake in, they don’t stay solid like sprinkles would. It’s a nice consistency, but if you’re weird about texture you can totally leave it out.)
When the butter and sugar are nice and fluffy, add in your eggs (one at a time), carrots, and fresh-grated ginger. (Not sure how versed you are in grating fresh ginger, I wasn’t. I found it easiest to peel off the skin with a paring knife before grating.) Make sure it’s all thoroughly combined.
Then, following the dry-wet-dry method, add your flour/spices alternating with the buttermilk to the carrot puree mix.
Distribute the batter evenly among the 12 muffin tins. Unfortunately, I didn’t snap a picture of this, but they were about 3/4 full I believe.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and they’re slightly golden on top.
Move them to a wire rack to cool completely.
As for the whipped cream topping, I used 1 tablespoon of sugar in 1 cup of cream. Feel free to add a bit more sugar if you want, but I don’t think it’s necessary. The cupcakes are sweet enough, and you’ll want the smooth, even flavor of the cream to balance them out.
To decorate, I simply piped the whipped cream onto the cupcakes and garnished with some of the extra candied ginger.
These cupcakes received rave reviews from all those who tried them, and I even had one and was pretty impressed with myself. They have an evil ranking of 2.5 because they contain veggies, but also enough sugary sweetness to put you in a sugar coma directly after eating them. (One of those rare occasions where you welcome the impending bellyache.)
I encourage you to bake these to help keep you cozy on these crisp autumn nights. I also ask that you please remember to vote for these over on Sweetest Kitchen from November 20-26th! (Thanks!)
The winner of November’s Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge will receive prizes from:
- Bake It Pretty; a $5 electronic gift card
- Beanilla; Tahitian ground vanilla & 3 Mexican vanilla beans
- Hello Hanna; a pack of Sweet Stands cupcake stands
- Miss Kitty Creations; a handmade cupcake charm of your choice
- Simply Caked; 600 brown greaseproof cupcake liners
- Sweet Cuppin Cakes; a prize pack worth $25
- Tundra Books; a selection 3 very sweet children’s books
Thank you to all our prize sponsors and to Jamieanne for hosting!