Unintentionally I have found myself obsessing about gingerbread lately.  I have made several different recipes, cookies, bars and even a couple of different smoothies.  (This is my favourite smoothie by the way, although I do mine without the graham crackers.) I think it’s the molasses.

When I was younger I really did not care for ginger bread.  I’m not sure if was because gingerbread was usually dry and hard-as-a-rock gingerbreadman cookies? or because I just did not care for the spice.

However, my kids don’t seem to mind the spice – so maybe it was just dried out cookies?

The first of share-worthy recipes is this Chocolate Ginger Bread cupcake from The Essential Best Foods Cookbook by Dana Jacobi.  I love this book. In it we only cook with healthful ingredients – and incidentally, chocolate is a healthy ingredient!

The reason I love this ginger bread is the black pepper.  The black pepper completely kicks up the “spice” factor and makes you go “huh! – that is kinda spicy.”  But you would never suspect there was black pepper in there. Just a subtle hint of savoury in the background – you might just think it was extra nutmeg or something.

I decided to pair these with Cinnamon butter cream, because I love cinnamon and because of the pretty caramel colour.

Chocolate Gingerbread

makes 9” square loaf or 12 cupcakes
  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1-1/4 cup ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 2 cold, large eggs
  • 1/3 cup canola oil, chilled
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (note: I used a scant 1/2 cup of soy milk with a tsp. of lemon juice, and let it sit for 15 mins or so to “sour”)
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1/4 of wild honey

Preheat oven to 350. To prepare for cupcakes use liners.

In a mixing bowl. sift together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, pepper and cloves. In a larger bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) whisk the eggs until beaten.  Add the oil and whisk until the mixture is thick and creamy. Whisk in the sugar, about 1 minute longer. Add the buttermilk and molasses and honey and whisk another 30 seconds.  Using a rubber spatula mix in the dry ingredients until just combined.

Pour into your lined cupcake tins and bake 18-22 mins. Or until the cupcakes have risen and are springy to the touch.

Allow them to cool for about 5 mins then remove before removing from the baking tray, and then allow to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Cinnamon Frosting

  • 1-1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 Tbsp. milk (or nut-milk)

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, on low speed, mix all dry ingredients, including brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Add butter and vanilla and 1 Tablespoon of milk continue mixing.  Add more milk, 1 tsp. at a time until frosting is thick but spreadable.  Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

A couple of notes about the frosting.  I use vegan margarine and skipped the salt and I used soy milk.  I wanted to pipe the frosting, so I ended up working in additional icing sugar – about another cup. The frosting will thicken as it chills in the fridge.