Gingerbread Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting and Pomegranate Caramel
These gingerbread cupcakes with marshmallow frosting and pomegranate caramel might be some of the best baked goods I’ve ever made. And I take that statement very seriously.
Can you believe that this is my first cupcake recipe on the blog? Total disgrace. I know. Especially since I spent almost a year baking and decorating them all day, every day, not all that long ago.
[Wait, maybe that’s why it took me so long…]
So you can imagine the amount of pressure (read: a lot) I’ve put on myself over the years. The “first blog cupcake” that I would inevitably share with you guys had to be special. And different.
Nothing too wacky, but definitely different.
These cupcakes meet both requirements. Plus, they’re festive. So festive!
Cue the carolers, light the Christmas tree, break out the Christmas mugs, quote Elf (“oh my god! Santa’s coming!? I know him! I know him!”) and listen to Carol of the Bells on repeat–that kind of festive, you know?
First of all, there are the gingerbread cupcakes, which are full of dark molasses flavor, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves.
They are tender, moist and incredibly simple to throw together. You could eat them as muffins, but that’s not nearly as fun.
Once the cupcakes have baked and cooled, you top them with the world’s fluffiest marshmallow frosting–made from egg whites, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
It’s about three million times better than marshmallow fluff (which in my opinion, isn’t all that fluffy). In fact, it should really be called cloud frosting! So light and fluffy, I can hardly stand it.
Then you drizzle each frosted cupcake with homemade pomegranate caramel! This part is mandatory, because this stuff is amazing and totally takes these cupcakes over the top.
You know that step when you’re making normal caramel where you carefully whisk in cream and butter? Well, for this version, you’re going to skip the cream and add in pomegranate juice. And just a teensy bit of butter.
Unlike regular caramel, this pomegranate caramel is a little sour and tart, with just the right amount of bitterness from the burnt sugar. It cuts the sweetness of the frosting perfectly and pairs so well with the gingerbread cake. It also has the prettiest red hue!
These cupcakes were practically inhaled before my eyes. And loved by all. (Obligatory, half-bitten-into photo included below). Enjoy!
Gingerbread Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting + Pomegranate Caramel
- 1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup canola/safflower oil
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick or 4 tablespoons), melted and slightly cooled
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1/3 cup 100% pomegranate juice
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- 4 large egg whites (4 ounces)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a standard muffin tin with liners–and lightly grease with spray.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
- In the bowl of stand mixer (fitted with a whisk attachment), whisk together the melted butter, oil, brown sugar, molasses, and egg.
- On low speed, add half of the water to the egg mixture, followed by half of the dry ingredients. Repeat with remaining water and flour mixture until just combined.
- Remove and scrape down the bowl with a spatula, ensuring that all ingredients have been incorporated evenly.
- Divide evenly among a standard muffin tin, so that each is 3/4 full (it will most likely yield 11 cupcakes with this amount of batter in each cup).
- Bake for 20-22 minutes (rotating halfway), or until tops of cupcakes are just springy to touch and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan on rack for 3 minutes. Remove cupcakes and allow to cool on rack until completely cool.
Make Pomegranate Caramel:
- Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan (keep a small bowl of water with a brush nearby to brush away any sugar crystals that form on side of pan).
- Heat over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
- Once sugar has dissolved, stop stirring and continue to cook until sugar reaches a medium-amber color.
- Carefully add the pomegranate juice, lemon juice, followed by the butter, and whisk together until mixture is well incorporated. Continue to simmer over low heat, whisking occasionally, for another 3-4 minutes until caramel is slightly thickened. Set aside in a heatproof bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Note: The caramel at this point will still seem relatively loose–but don’t worry, it will thicken considerably as it cools. The caramel should be cool (but still drip freely from a spoon) for decorating–if it gets too thick, heat it in the microwave at 10 second intervals.
- Place egg whites, sugar, and lemon juice in (very clean) bowl of a stand mixer and place over a pot of lightly simmering water (double broiler). Using the whisk attachment, whisk constantly until sugar has dissolved and whites are lightly warm to touch (use your fingertips to test this–but it should take about 4-5 minutes, depending on how cold your egg whites are).
- Transfer bowl to stand mixer and beat over low speed for 1-2 minutes. Increase speed to high and continue to beat for another 5-6 minutes until frosting is thick, shiny, and stiff (will hold its peak).
- Add the vanilla extract and beat for another couple seconds until incorporated.
- Frost cooled cupcakes using your favorite tip (I used a 8PT round) and drizzle with pomegranate caramel. Serve immediately.
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Looking for something to make with the leftover pomegranate juice from this recipe? Try this super easy pomegranate ginger sorbet.