Monday, November 4, 2013

Pumpkin ginger cupcakes (gluten-free or not) -- and a giveaway

These delicious pumpkin ginger cupcakes with mascarpone frosting can be made gluten-free or not.

gluten free or not pumpkin ginger cupcakes with mascarpone frosting

Yes, I know it's November and therefore the all-pumpkin-all-the-time blogger recipe pumpkinpalooza should now be over, right?


As I have mentioned before, The Ninj respects seasonality. To wit, I held off this year on pumpkin-izing the blog until October, to give props to apples and pears in September.

And guess what? Pumpkins are still in season, even though Halloween is over and it is November! I mean, hello? Ever heard of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dessert?

But I'm here to do you one seasonal dessert better, since regular readers know I'm not a fan of pie: pumpkin ginger cupcakes with a creamy mascarpone-cream cheese frosting. Now THIS is a Thanksgiving dessert that I can get behind.

And did I mention these cupcakes are gluten-free? OR NOT!!? And that either way they are moist, not cloyingly sweet and perhaps the most perfect dessert EVAH?

Yeah, I'm pleasing the heck out of everyone with this one, especially for Thanksgiving. Pfffft: Who the hell would eat pie when you can have cupcakes?

gluten free pumpkin ginger cupcakes with mascarpone frosting

Let's get back to the gluten-free part for a quick sec. Here's the beauty of this recipe: you can use either all-purpose, regular flour or substitute an equal amount of gluten-free flour. I get mine from a fantastic local gluten-free bakery -- West Meadow Farm Bakery, which sells its awesome flour online! -- but there are other widely available brands.  Either way, gluten-free or not, the cupcakes taste the same! Yes, I'm not kidding. Therefore, since you will likely have a guest at your Thanksgiving table or a co-worker at the office holiday party who must eat gluten-free and thus is usually screwed out of the delicious cookies and cakes, you will be the HERO OF THANKSGIVING.

Say it with me: I will be the Hero of Thanksgiving.

gluten free pumpkin ginger cupcakes with mascarpone frosting

Now let's put the gluten-free or gluten-full option aside to focus on flavor. These cupcakes are not too heavy on the pumpkin and have a subtle, delicate ginger flavor -- left unfrosted, they make fantastic breakfast muffins.

Which brings us to the frosting. Ay yi yi, peeps: This is seriously good stuff.

I must admit, I'm not a huge fan of cream cheese frostings but this one is different, because it's half cream cheese and half mascarpone -- rich and cheesy with just the right amount of sweetness.

Which brings us to the GIVEAWAY!

To inspire you to give these cupcakes a whirl, I've teamed up with Vermont Creamery to give away a Baker's Essentials package, which includes TWO of each of the following amazing Vermont Creamery products  -- a $60 value!
  • Cultured butter with sea salt
  • Sea salt and maple butter
  • Unsalted butter
  • Mascarpone
  • Creme fraiche
  • Madagascar vanilla creme fraiche

All of these items would work perfectly in this pumpkin ginger cupcake recipe. Using the salted maple butter would add an extra layer of heavenly flavor, especially if you're going the unfrosted route. And if you prefer a more sour-cream-like frosting, simply substitute the vanilla creme fraiche for the mascarpone.

You know The Ninj loves a customizable recipe.

For a chance to win this Baker's Essentials package, simply enter the giveaway following the instructions below the recipe. For additional entries, like The Ninj on Facebook or follow me on Twitter! (Note: giveaway is for US residents only.)

Will you be the Hero of Thanksgiving? Leave a comment: The Ninj wants to know.

gluten free pumpkin ginger cupcakes with mascarpone frosting

Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting

(adapted from Food and Wine)
Note: This recipe makes about 14-18 cupcakes, depending on the size of your pans.

-- For the frosting --
6 ounces mascarpone cheese
6 ounces cream cheese
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2-3 teaspoons vanilla

-- For the cupcakes --
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour OR gluten-free multi-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree

Make the frosting: Using a mixer, beat the mascarpone and cream cheese together until blended. Add the confectioners sugar and mix well (taste it at this point: if you'd like it a bit sweeter, add another few tablespoons of sugar). Blend in the vanilla, cover the bowl and refrigerate for an hour.

While the frosting is firming in the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices (4) and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the sugars, applesauce,  butter and eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture and stir until smooth. Stir in the pumpkin.

Pour the mixture into prepared muffin tins and bake for about 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and then frost (I used an icing bag and decorative tip but a simple spreader is fine).
-- print recipe --

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I'm thinking of not only being a Hero of Thanksgiving, but also the hero of a random Sunday afternoon as well. :) Can't wait to try these out!

  2. I will be the hero at Thanksgiving!!! Or not. I ordered pies through my son's school. Maybe I'll just bring those and keep these gems for myself. Thanksgiving is on my birthday week, after all! ;-) lol
    bridget w.

  3. This is very similar to a favorite family recipe of mine that my grandmother adapted from the commercial recipe at the Yankee Pedlar in Holyoke. My sister who has a recently discovered wheat allergy has not been able to indulge in this family faorite. Since this is G-Free adaptable I truly will be THE HERO OF THANKSGIVING in the Brodeur-Egan house :)

  4. I'm a big fan of ginger, as you know. ;-) I'll have to get Lorraine to make these for me. equatorial pygmies know I can't bake. Yay Ninja!

  5. I'm not a fan of pumpkin usually but I bet this would be good with apple or some other puree substitute. I'm not cooking this year for Tday, but traveling, so Ill let someone ele wear the cape this year. Cheers!

  6. I will be a hero on Thanksgiving and maybe a weekend of baking with granddaughter

  7. I will ABSOLUTELY be a hero(ine) of Thanksgiving by making these outrageously delicious-sounding cupcakes! Oooh, I hope I win the Bakers' Essential package...

  8. You had me at mascarpone. I'm drooling now.

  9. Well I am always my Hubby's hero especially when I bake. I know he will love these.

  10. I was worried you'd yell at me for posting a holiday recipe slide on my home page, but now I can feel safe because you are doing a pumpkin recipe... LOL! Not sure if that's good logic:) But either way, I love these cupcakes, and the fact your teamed up with VT Creamery for this giveaway. How cool! I have a big old pumpkin waiting to be roasted on my counter right now!

  11. You had me at "Mascarpone frosting". Which is tied with "Creme fraiche" as ingredients to win my husband's love. So back off ladies!!!

  12. Loving these cupcakes! And Vermont Creamery... win! The maple sea salt butter is my absolute favorite.

  13. We don't typically make a lot of dessert, as that's something easy for our guests to bring. But with the frozen pumpkin we have from the garden, we might just have to do this!

  14. Very nice recipe. Would be fantastic, too, with sweet potato or buttercup puree. Thanks for sharing.:-)

  15. Wow these look delicious! And what a great idea about blending mascarpone and cream cheese for the frosting. Thanks!

  16. I'm sure I won't be the hero but I refuse to be a zero and will have something prepared for Thanksgiving - these may be perfect!

  17. I want to be a hero at Thanksgiving. And these cupcakes look spectacular! I would grab one of these over pumpkin pie anyday. Awesome giveaway :) You can never go wrong with cheese and butter...well done :)

  18. Yes I will be the hero especially if I win the baker's package!!! I love VT Creamery.

  19. nope. but only because I don't have anyone to create a thanksgiving day meal for or with - otherwise I would totally be one.

    fruitcrmble AT Comcast DOT net

  20. I'm not usually a cupcake fan, but these look incredible, and since we're having Thanksgiving with my mother-in-law who has a gluten free diet, I will definitely be making these!

  21. Yes, I think I will! Only two in my family are pumpkin pie fans (including me!) and these will be easy to share and/or send home with people. Plus, they look delicious!

  22. Yes, my family would love these

  23. These are on the menu now, and I will be a hero to myself for the g-f portion. But it is a leap of faith because I (wait for it...) I am neither a cream cheese or mascarpone lover!

  24. I love to use Vermont Creamery creme fraiche to top my pumpkin cheesecake on Thanksgiving. It covers any cracks or funky imperfections with a smooth, glossy finish.

    The cupcakes will definitely be attempted soon.

  25. If I win you'll take the creme fraiche and marscapone, right? (Baby spits up too much when I eat any dairy besides butter and cream!)

  26. Oh good golly miss molly...these little delights are right up my alley. I am making them todayyyy!!!

  27. No heroic acts for me. Spending Thanksgiving alone this year!

  28. These cupcakes sound spectuacular! And mascarpone frosting?! I'm in. How could you not be in with mascarpone frosting.