Cinnamon Vanilla Cupcakes with Candied Ginger*

Sunday is my Mom’s birthday and, for the very first time, I won’t be spending it with her. Growing up, I would always asked ask my Mom how old she was. She would answer 31. Then the next year, I would ask again. And again, she would say she was turning 31. So one year on her birthday, Kevin, a friend of the family, was over and my Mom wouldn’t tell him her age.

Kevin: Jessie, let me ax (yes ax, not ask) you a question. How old is your Mama?

Me: (I of course knew the answer since I had asked her the exact same question earlier that day.)  31.

Kevin: …….. 

Me: …what?

Kevin: How old are you?

Me: 18

Kevin: And your Mama is 31?

Me: Ya…

Kevin: Well somebody here is lying. You ain’t 18 or you’re Mama ain’t 31. Which is it?


I had been telling people for YEARS that my Mom was 31. YEARS. And at the age of 18, I finally realized why people would get saucer sized eyes when I told them how old my Mom was. Oh…you know…because that would have meant she had me at like 12. Whoopsie. I’m obviously not the brightest bulb in the box and my loving mother took full advantage of that. In my defense, women try to stay 29 or 39…you never hear of anyone staying 31!

So in keeping with tradition, Happy 31st Birthday Mama! I love you!

I have a downright obsession with Cinnamon, so it should come as no surprise that I found an excuse to use it in another cake form. Thanks to my compulsive shopping at Trader Joe’s in Nashville, I also had a ginormous bag of candied ginger to use. So what better way to combine the two?  I also had to use this adorable Chicago Metallic mini 3 tiered cake pan to make an actual birthday cake! Cupcakes say party…but tiered cakes say PARTY!

This particular cake recipe is my go to vanilla cupcake recipe…while it may have applesauce and cinnamon in it, neither are strong enough to really be the star. The cupcakes stay moist and have that perfect texture that I look for in a cupcake…and more importantly, they go well with just about any frosting you can come up with. I topped the Cinnamon Scented Vanilla Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting and some chopped Candied Ginger. All together, it makes one hell of a flavorful bite!


Cinnamon Scented Vanilla Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting & Candied Ginger

Yield: 12 cupcakes

These Cinnamon Scented Vanilla Cupcakes are truly the perfect cupcake. They are spongy, moist, and a perfect base for Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Ginger!

Recipe Note: Candied Ginger is also known as Crystallized Ginger


  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • a healthy pinch of allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) natural applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk


  • 3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped candied ginger


Cinnamon Scented Vanilla Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a medium size bowl combine dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, ginger, salt, allspice, baking powder, and baking soda). Set aside.

In stand mixer, on low, mix eggs, sugar, applesauce, vanilla extract, and vegetable oil.

Carefully alternate dry ingredients (flour mixture) and buttermilk, mixing until fully combined.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 15-17 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Ginger:
Cream the butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl. Add the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well between each addition.

Stir in the cinnamon and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Beat the mixture well, until light and fluffy.

Using a piping bag or a large spoon, spread a generous amount of frosting onto the tops of each cupcake.

Place the chopped candied ginger in a small bowl and press each cupcake, top down, into the candied ginger.

TNCB original recipe

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32 Responses to “Cinnamon Vanilla Cupcakes with Candied Ginger”

  1. 1

    Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga — November 4, 2011 @ 12:31 am

    You made those??!!! Omg they are BEAUTIFUL!!! WOW!!!

    Seriously woman, the decorating on those is what should be on Cake Wars or some famous program on the Food Network. That’s food art! Amazing!

  2. 2

    Kathryn — November 4, 2011 @ 5:20 am

    Oh these are so cute! You are the undisputed cupcake queen!

    My mum started getting younger when I was about 10. Sooner or later we’re going to cross and I’ll end up older than her.

  3. 3

    Choc Chip Uru — November 4, 2011 @ 6:03 am

    Candied ginger is not a favourite but your pictures make it appear too enticing – a gorgeous recipe I am sure :)

  4. 4

    Jeanette — November 4, 2011 @ 7:17 am

    So funny, I did the same thing with my kids when they were young…it’s become a joke in my house, so Mom, you’re only 30 and my brother is 18, hmm, that means you had him when you were 12!?!

  5. 5

    Alison @ Ingredients, inc. — November 4, 2011 @ 9:07 am

    These are so awesome!!

  6. 6

    Alaina — November 4, 2011 @ 9:13 am

    These are fabulous, I pinned them to remember, but these are definitely a must make!! I love the mini tiered cakes that’s an awesome touch!

  7. 7

    mom — November 4, 2011 @ 9:53 am

    I have the most beautiful daughter in the world! (well 2 of the most beautiful daughters in the world)

    I love you Jess! You brought a tear to my eye today 😉

    And furthermore I will always be 31! Stupid Keven!

  8. 8

    Lauren — November 4, 2011 @ 10:20 am

    Those cupcake liners are ADORABLE. Get them offline?

  9. 9

    cassie//bake your day — November 4, 2011 @ 10:21 am

    These are beautiful and so elegant. I love candied ginger and it sounds like a perfect compliment for cinnamon, yum!

  10. 10

    Winnie — November 4, 2011 @ 10:28 am

    Wow Julie…so beautiful! I love cinnamon and candied ginger and just know I’d adore these.

  11. 11

    Winnie — November 4, 2011 @ 10:29 am

    Ooops why did I write Julie?! My bad Jessica…and these really are just lovely…

  12. 12

    The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh — November 4, 2011 @ 10:32 am

    You would never get nausea/motion sickness again after eating these! (Isn’t ginger the natural remedy for those things?)

    Happy 31st birthday Mama!

  13. 13

    Bev Weidner — November 4, 2011 @ 10:44 am

    I’ll take THIRTY ONE cupcakes, please.

  14. 14

    Erica @ In and Around Town — November 4, 2011 @ 11:36 am

    These photos are fantastic! Such a great cake and accompanying cupcakes! So pretty!

  15. 15

    brandi — November 4, 2011 @ 11:58 am

    you are so talented with decorating. my cupcakes always look like they’ve already been eaten – not so appetizing.

    gorgeous! and happy birthday to your Mom :)

  16. 16

    colleen — November 4, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

    I thought tiered cakes said PAR-TAY! These look great. :) Happy birthday to your mama!

  17. 17

    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen — November 4, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

    Ha! That’s great, I’m forever 28 in my head 😉 Happy Birthday to your mom!

  18. 18

    Joanne — November 4, 2011 @ 8:24 pm

    And…this is about to be MY new go-to vanilla cupcake recipe. I love anything with candied ginger…I’m easily pleased.

    I might just stay 24 forever. It seems like the way to go.

  19. 19

    Jen @ — November 4, 2011 @ 9:44 pm

    Love that story! You’re right – no one says they’re 31.

  20. 20

    Katrina — November 4, 2011 @ 11:43 pm

    Love these! So yummy sounding.

  21. 21

    Nutmeg Nanny — November 6, 2011 @ 10:49 pm

    Those cupcakes are so beautiful! I would be scared to eat them they are so pretty!

  22. 22

    The Novice Chef » Southern Buttermilk Biscuits — November 7, 2011 @ 5:47 am

    […] up my Mom always made biscuits out of a can. And those were good (trust me, there isn’t a biscuit I […]

  23. 23

    DessertForTwo — November 7, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

    Oh the gorgeousness!

    My TJ’s has beout of candied ginger for months. Now I know it’s becasue they sent it all to Nashville for you! And I’m okay with that 😉

  24. 24

    naomi — November 8, 2011 @ 1:05 am

    I love candied ginger and I love these cute little cupcakes!

  25. 25

    Rachel @ Bakerita — November 9, 2011 @ 12:43 am

    Holy yum. These look incredible.
    I would give anything for a homemade cupcake right now, especially one of these.
    I love the combo of ginger and cinnamon. These are adorable!

  26. 26

    Russell at Chasing Delicious — November 9, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

    Cute! I’ll take that big tower cupcake thing please. Yum. And happy bday to your mom!

  27. 27

    ErinsFoodFiles — November 15, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

    Too adorable! And I love TJ’s candied ginger. Seriously, you need to try them in these cookies.

  28. 28

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  29. 29

    Cinnamon Vanilla Cupcakes with Candied Ginger « The Hearty Herbivore — December 23, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

    […] CINNAMON VANILLA CUPCAKES WITH CANDIED GINGER The final, gingery product. […]

  30. 30

    Renee — March 22, 2013 @ 11:47 pm

    Would whole milk be an okay substitute for the buttermilk? I just happened to have some in the fridge from another recipe and need to use it up. Thanks!!

    • Jessica replied: — March 27th, 2013 @ 11:07 am

      Hi Renee, yes – in this recipe – you can use whole milk instead because the quantity is so low. 😉

  31. 31

    Renee — March 27, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

    Thank you for your reply! I ended up using some nonfat plain Greek yogurt & thinned it a bit with some milk….also worked well! Loved these…SO moist and not crumbly…which was awesome for the kids. Just made the cake part & frosted with vanilla buttercream….yum….I LOVE homemade cupcakes. Your blog is awesome!

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