Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ginger and Molasses Cupcakes

I have baked with ginger before, but not fresh ginger. I've baked with the kind of ginger that's dry, comes from a small container and costs about $7 (why are spices so expensive?). Fresh ginger is not ground up and dry, it doesn't come from a small container and doesn't cost $7... unless you buy a lot of it. I will say that due to the amount of work fresh ginger requires I prefer the $7 container, but I was happy to finally try using fresh ginger in a recipe.

When shopping for this recipe fresh ginger was the only thing I needed to buy (hooray!). Though I'm a fresh ginger novice when it comes to baking or cooking with it, I know what it looks like and felt confident I could find it at Stop and Shop and not have to make a bunch of trips to various grocery stores. I was right. Yeah me. The recipe said to buy about 2 6-inch pieces of ginger to yield what I would need. I bought 1 large and 2 small pieces thinking it would equal what I needed. I probably could have weighed it to see if it was the number of ounces the recipe specified, but that would have been a smart decision. Smart decisions are things I don't always make.

When it came to prepping these ginger and molasses cupcakes I started with the ginger. First I peeled all the pieces and tried to remove the "nubs" to make it easier to peel. Then, I minced. I actually looked up the difference between mincing, chopping and dicing (love me some Google) so I would now exactly how small the pieces of ginger were supposed to be. I assumed mincing was the smallest because I didn't think having giant chunks of ginger in these cupcakes would be very good. I was right again. I am on a roll. And, in case you're curious in terms of size of the pieces of whatever you're working with, from smallest to largest it goes minced, chopped, diced. You're welcome. Back to mincing. It was fairly easy to do, some of the pieces of ginger were harder to chop than others, not sure why, but overall it was a pretty painless, though sticky process. In an exciting not normal turn of events my eyes proved to be great measuring cups this time around because I got the perfect amount of ginger that I needed for the recipe. Chances of that ever happening again... 1 in never.

The rest of the recipe was easy, except for one minor hiccup. Before going grocery shopping I checked my molasses supply to make sure I had the 2/3 cup that was necessary. I looked in the cupboard, and the jar looked to have enough molasses. Of course when it came to measuring out the molasses while preparing the batter it turned out that I didn't have enough. Using my perfect measuring-cup eyes I concluded I was a little less than 1/4 cup short. Crap. I was tired and now annoyed, I had already worked all day and I didn't feel like making a trip to the store for one thing. I did think about it for about a minute and then decided that being roughly 1/4 cup short of molasses was not a crisis and couldn't possibly make that much of a difference.

During the baking time I added 2 minutes to the total time since these weren't quite done after 20 minutes. When I poked them with the toothpick after 20 minutes I still had batter on the toothpick and the middles sunk in a little. After a little more time in the oven they were fine. When I tasted them I didn't notice anything missing due to the small amount of molasses that I didn't have. Then again, this was the first time I tasted them so I didn't really have anything to compare them to. Ignorance is bliss!

As many of the cupcakes so far in this project have been, these were topped with whipped cream. I made the whipped cream while the cupcakes were baking since it's so easy and put it in the fridge in a Ziplock bag until I was ready to frost the cupcakes. When it was frosting time I noticed that the whipped cream had become a little liquidy (may or may not be a real word) even though I left it in the fridge. I decided to re-whip it in my stand mixer to get it back to the consistency that I wanted. Worked like a charm and I was proud of my head's-up thinking. I did forget one thing. To garnish the cupcakes with the $7-container ginger before I served them and took their pictures. Next time I'll remember the garnish and I'll have the required amount of molasses... unless I forget.