Stem Ginger Cupcakes with Whiskey Buttercream

Soft and sticky ginger cupcakes, dotted with spicy sweet chunks of stem ginger and topped with a subtle whiskey buttercream. The perfect mix of classic flavours for a delicious Christmas treat!

stem ginger cupcakes

It’s finally December! Advent calendars have been opened, Christmas marketing is in full swing, gaudily decorated trees are beginning to appear in the windows of those eager few. My dining table is laden with half-made Christmas crackers and our kitchen is beginning to fill with that all-too familiar smell of sweet fruits and suet. So, let’s crack on with the Christmas baking! Like most of the blogosphere, this month will be dedicated to posts with a fun and festive twist.

There seems to be a checklist when it comes to Christmas food. Any savoury item marketed under the ‘Christmas’ umbrella is adorned with cranberry sauce, stuffing, bacon, and the star attraction- the turkey. For bakes, the flavour checklist includes sumptuous, indulgent ingredients like dark chocolate, warming spices like ginger and nutmeg, and colourful jewels of glace cherries and mixed peel. Everything is loaded with dark brown sugar, syrup, and dried fruits, in an array of gorgeous sticky treacle colours.

Ginger is one of those classic Christmas flavours. Gingerbread houses and tree decorations are synonymous with the festive season. My favourite gingerbread recipe is from Mary Berry and involves melting together the butter, sugar, and syrup. When you pour it into the flour, you use your hands to mix and the dough is warm and soft and the most perfect dough ever. The cooked biscuits are not too crunchy, yet not too soft and bendy that they’re like wet cardboard. Perfect- seriously. You cannot improve them.

This cake recipe is an adaptation on a Hairy Bikers recipe that has always been a favourite, but since it’s Christmas, it’s a bit more decadent! I loaded these sticky ginger cupcakes with chunks of chewy stem ginger. Stem ginger is a bit of a required taste as it can be a bit sharp, but I really love the pungent smell and that hit of ginger. Paired together with the subtly spiced, super squidgy cake mix, these ginger cupcakes are the perfect way to ease yourself into Christmas. I always use ground ginger in my ginger bakes for ease, but you could try grating some fresh ginger into the cupcakes to really up that ginger flavour! I added a delicious, slightly boozy buttercream flavoured with whiskey to give these cupcakes a real Christmas kick. The sweet icing is the perfect partner to these ginger cupcakes.

These are great to enjoy with tea or hot chocolate as an alternative to the mince pie. They are also a fun twist on classic gingerbread if you want something a bit more adventurous. Of course, decorating them with tiny ginger biscuits isn’t essential, but it’s definitely a tasty addition! (It is Christmas, after all…)

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Stem Ginger Cupcakes with Whiskey Buttercream

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 15 cupcakes

Stem Ginger Cupcakes with Whiskey Buttercream


  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 175g light soft brown sugar
  • 55g unsalted butter
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 120ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 120ml hot (but not boiling) water
  • 75g stem ginger, cut into chunks (drained, if in syrup)
  • 75g butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp whiskey


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. Line two cupcake pans with 15 cupcake cases.
  2. Reserve one tablespoon of flour, then sieve together the remaining flour with the ginger and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl. Add the sugar and whisk together.
  3. Cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the egg, syrup, milk, and water and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a large jug and pour into the cupcake cases to about 2/3 full. Wash the syrup off the stem ginger chunks and pat dry, then toss the ginger in the reserved flour. Sprinkle the chunks into each cupcake.
  6. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack once completely cool.
  7. For the icing, beat the butter using an electric hand whisk. Slowly add the icing sugar, a spoonful at a time, whisking continuously, until smooth and thick. Add the whiskey and whisk again. Finally, slowly pour in the milk to achieve a smooth, silky consistency (you might not need it all).
  8. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe rosettes onto the top of each cake. Decorate with gingerbread sprinkles or a small pieces of gingerbread. ▪

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