How to make chocolate gingerbread cupcake

Hungry for Gingerbread but don’t want a cookie? You will love this recipe! Chocolate Gingerbread Caramel Swiss Buttercream cupcakes is a twist on gingerbread. Dark cocoa powder is added to a molasses and gingerbread spiced cupcake batter. Once baked and cooled, Caramel Swiss buttercream frosting is piped in swirls, drizzled with caramel sauce and gingersnap baked streusel. Recipe for cupcakes, buttercream, caramel and streusel is attached. You will love this flavorful cupcake for fall or anytime you want a taste of gingerbread.

How to make chocolate gingerbread cupcake

How to Make Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes

The classic gingerbread as in cookies has been transformed into cupcakes. To make these cakes, begin with lining your cupcake baking pan with cupcake liners. I used white liners for baking, while the decorative liners are used for serving. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Next you need to prepare the caramel sauce before making the cupcakes. If you plan to use purchased caramel sauce you will not need to make the home made caramel. This recipe takes butter, molasses- grandma brand not black strap, ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, heavy cream and dark cocoa.

How to make chocolate gingerbread cupcake

Making the Caramel Sauce for Drizzle and Buttercream Frosting

Making caramel is not hard, but you will need a watch the sugar water combo so it doesn’t over brown. Fill a custard cup with water and grab a pastry brush for you will need to brush down the sides of the saucepan to prevent crystals from forming on the sides of the pan. Dip brush in water and as the mixture boils, and you see crystals trying to form, brush them off.

Place the sugar and water in medium saucepan, stir to combine, but do not continue stirring from this point forward. Cook over medium high heat, washing down the sides of the pan with pastry brush dipped in water as needed. Continue to cook this mixture until color of caramel turns amber. Immediately remove from heat, add room temperature heavy cream while whisking. Don’t be alarmed when the mixture bubbles up a lot… add butter, return to heat and bring back to boil simmering about 2 minutes whisking constantly. Allow to cool, then place in another container and refrigerate until ready to use.

How to make chocolate gingerbread cupcake

Time to Make the Cupcakes

Tip: there is molasses in the cupcake recipe so be sure to use Grandma’s brand and not black strap molasses. Black strap is very strong and will over power your cupcakes. If all you have is black strap dilute the measurement to 1/8 cup + 1/8 cup water. But I strongly suggest you don’t use it for this recipe.

For the chocolate- I used Equal Exchange Organic Baking Cocoa. All that is in this product is organic coca processed with alkali, that’s it. It’s finely ground and dissolves beautifully in liquids. This makes great hot chocolate too!

In a large mixing bowl with paddle attachment, cream together softened butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, add eggs one at at time beating until completely incorporated. Add vanilla and molasses, beat until blended. Add dry ingredients with spices & cocoa, alternate with buttermilk. Blend flour into the cupcake batter.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake liner with batter about 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for 22-25 minutes until center of cupcake is done. Use a toothpick to check for doneness by inserting into center of baked cupcake, if pick comes out clean the cupcake is done.

How to Make Chocolate Cupcakes

Once the cupcakes have cooled, you will make the Swiss Buttercream Frosting. I added caramel to the buttercream at the end of the recipe, that is why you make the caramel ahead.

How to make salted caramel cupcakes frosting

Caramel Swiss Buttercream Frosting

You will love this frosting!!! Swiss Buttercream is not as sweet as American buttercream. It is light and fluffy and pipes beautifully. Great for cakes and cupcakes. You can find out more about Swiss buttercream here if you are interested.

While American Buttercream is easy to make, once you learn how to make Swiss Buttercream you will use this recipe more often. Piping cupcakes with a large swirl of Swiss buttercream you will welcome and enjoy eating.

Ok.. heres how ya make it.

  • In a bowl of a stand mixer add egg whites and brown sugar. Hand whisk to mix. Place the bowl on top of a medium saucepan with 2″ of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the mixture is hot and no longer grainy to touch. Use a candy thermometer to reach 160 degrees. This takes about 2-3 minutes.

How to make caramel

  • Place bowl on your stand mixer with whisk attachment and whip egg whites/sugar on med-high until the meringue is stiff and cooled (the bowl is slightly warm to touch (approx. 5-10mins).

Making Caramel Swiss Buttercream for Cupcakes/ cakes

  • Switch to paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth.
  • Add cooled caramel and whip until smooth and creamy. Use a rubber scraper to clean sides and bottom of mixing bowl from time to time. You will love this frosting!

Assemble of Cupcakes

  • Fill pastry bag with tip # 1 M with frosting. Pipe swirls on top of cooled cupcakes.
  • Drizzle frosting with thinned caramel. ( if you don’t want to make your own caramel use caramel ice cream topping) . Place in microwave a few seconds to thin for drizzle.
  • Sprinkle cupcakes with gingersnap streusel if desired.

Gingersnap Streusel is made with almond flour, crushed cinnamon graham crackers, and diced butter. Crumble butter with almond flour and crackers to form the streusel. Spread streusel on a baking sheet, bake at 350 for 5-8 minutes until streusel is browned and crisp. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn. When cool sprinkle over top of cupcakes.

Graham Cracker Streusel mix

Baked Streusel 

How to Make Graham Cracker streusel

How to make chocolate gingerbread cupcake

Hope you will make these delicious cupcakes! You will love em and the present well for parties and entertaining.


Chocolate Gingerbread Caramel Swiss Buttercream Cupcakes with Gingersnap Streusel

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Chocolate Gingerbread cupcakes are baked and frosted with Caramel Swiss Buttercream Frosting, drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with Gingersnap Streusel.

  • Author: Liz Bushong
  • Prep Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22-25 minutes cupcakes-10 minutes caramel sauce, 25 minutes frosting
  • Total Time: 2.5 hours
  • Yield: 20 standard cupcakes 1x
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American & Swiss


Units Scale

Caramel Sauce (make in advance)

  • 11/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, slightly warmed
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, tested Kerry Gold – room temperature

Gingerbread Cupcakes

  • 21/3 cups all purpose flour + 1/4 cup Baking Cocoa-tested Equal Exchange organic
  • 21/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 11/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, nutmeg & ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter-tested Kerry Gold room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 3/4 cup Grandma’s molasses
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 11/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 11/2 cups unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup caramel or purchased caramel ice cream topping

Gingerbread Streusel:

  • 3/4 cup crushed gingersnap cookies or cinnamon graham crackers
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup butter, chilled 1/2″ cubes




Gingerbread Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake pan with paper liners, set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside.
  • Cream together butter until smooth in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Gradually add sugars and beat on med-high until fluffy and mixture is pale in color about 2 minutes.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating on medium low speed to incorporate.  Add molasses and vanilla and mix until well blended.
  • Alternate flour/cocoa mixture with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Do not over mix.
  • With ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake liner with batter. Smooth the tops with an off set spatula.
  • Place in middle of oven and bake at 350 for 22-25  minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If there are a few crumbs thats good too.
  • Remove from oven and cool cupcakes on wire rack. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Caramel Sauce (Can be made ahead)

  1. Place sugar and water into a medium saucepan, stir to combine sugar and water, but do not stir from this point forward. Cook over medium high heat, washing down the sides of the saucepan with a pastry brush dipped in water as needed to prevent crystals from forming on side of pan.
  2. Allow sugar to boil, there will be bubbles around the edges of saucepan and then in all over. Cook until desired color of amber caramel is reached.
  3. Immediately remove from heat. Very slowly pour in warmed heavy cream while whisking quickly.(Mixture will bubble up and boil so this is normal).
  4. Add butter, return to heat, and bring back to a boil. Simmer for 2 minutes whisking constantly.
  5. Caramel will become thicker once cooled. Chill caramel in refrigerator while making cupcakes and frosting.

Gingersnap Streusel Garnish for Cupcakes ( can be made ahead)

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Place cookies or cinnamon graham crackers in zip lock baggie and crush.
  3. Combine all ingredients in medium bowl.  After pieces resemble small peas place on baking sheet in heated oven at 325 for 10 minutes.  Watch to make sure it does not burn.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  It should be crunchy and slightly browned.  If streusel is too large, place in zip lock bag and crush slightly until you get desired size. Set aside as a garnish for cupcakes.

Caramel Swiss Buttercream

  1. In mixing bowl of stand mixer, add room temperature egg whites and brown sugar. Whisk by hand the sugar egg mixture until sugar is well incorporated in egg whites.
  2. Fill a medium saucepan with 2″ of water over medium high heat, bring water to a boil.
  3. Place mixing bowl with whites/sugar mixture over boiling water and continue to whisk until mixture reaches 160-165 degrees F.  (Use a candy thermometer to check temperature).
  4. Place the mixing bowl on stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment and beat on medium high until  mixture becomes like meringue, thick and shiny. About 5-8 minutes.  The bottom of the bowl should be cool enough to touch. Keep beating until it cools.
  5. Change whisk to paddle on mixer and gradually add room temperature butter slices to meringue, continue to whip meringue until all the butter is incorporated.
  6. Add caramel to the meringue and whip until blended.

Assembling the Cupcakes

Fill piping bag fitted with tip # 1 M with caramel buttercream.  Pipe large swirls on top center of each cooled cupcake.  Place 4 tablespoons of caramel in custard cup and microwave a few seconds to thin. Drizzle each cupcake with caramel sauce, sprinkle with cooled gingersnap streusel.

Serve immediately. Any leftover cupcakes should be refrigerated.


  • Make Caramel sauce and streusel one day ahead or morning of bake.
  • Use Grandmas molasses and not black strap for best tasting cupcakes.
  • Use a candy thermometer to test egg white/sugar mix for meringue.
  • Make sure you do not get any trace of egg yolk after separating for frosting. Egg yolk will destroy the meringue.
  • Use room temperature butter for frosting. I tested Kerry Gold for best flavor.
  • Cupcakes after baking can be made ahead and frozen until ready to frost. Do not freeze with frosting.
  • Frosting makes enough for 3- 6″ round cakes, or 24-30 cupcakes.
  • This recipe makes 20 standard cupcakes.

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