Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Cinnamon Ginger Buttercream and Ginger Cookie Pecan Brittle

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Moist brown sugar cupcakes topped with a flavorful buttercream and surprise brittle topping.
Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Cinnamon Ginger Buttercream and Ginger Cookie Pecan Brittle

Sometimes it is easy to get in a rut.

A cookie rut. An exercise rut. A wearing the same $12 gap t-shirt every day rut.

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Cinnamon Ginger Buttercream and Ginger Cookie Pecan Brittle

We get a little comfortable with the usual. Cookies are easy and I’ve gotten great at them. I know what ingredients make the best dough, what amount of refrigeration time creates the best final product and what flavor combinations will always taste good (chocolate and peanut butter, obviously). I’m not being cocky, I just spend many hours most days making cookies for my business.

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Cinnamon Ginger Buttercream and Ginger Cookie Pecan Brittle

I’m not actually in an exercise rut right now, I’m in more of a Sean T kicks my butt every single day and I can’t wait until Insanity is over phase. And the t-shirts? Yeah, I can’t help it. I’ll stop when the weather cools down and I can break into my new fall wardrobe.

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Cinnamon Ginger Buttercream and Ginger Cookie Pecan Brittle

Sometimes these ruts are really hard to escape. But sometimes, all it takes is just a little bit of excitement over something new. At the start of Insanity I was excited because I wanted to look like those women in the video (ahem, no matter how many level 3 drills I do, it isn’t happening).

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Cinnamon Ginger Buttercream and Ginger Cookie Pecan Brittle

Well, ever since we went to Bi-Rite, I’ve had the brown sugar ice cream on the brain.  That dark, almost burnt brown sugar flavor and the swirls of ginger throughout were such a perfect combination of flavors.  I’ve been wanting to recreate that experience in a different way.

I don’t know how it happened exactly, but the idea of this cupcake just popped into my head last week.  It was one of those moments where as soon as it happened, I had to do something.  Brown sugar cupcakes were in and out of the oven before I really knew what hit me.  What followed was a lightly flavored creamy swiss meringue buttercream and a sweet and salty crunchy topping inspired by one of my favorite bloggers.  The result was almost too good.

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Cinnamon Ginger Buttercream and Ginger Cookie Pecan Brittle

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Cinnamon Ginger Buttercream and Ginger Cookie Pecan Brittle
Moist brown sugar cupcakes topped with a flavorful buttercream and surprise brittle topping.
Recipe type: Dessert
Makes: 17 cupcakes
  • 1 batch brown sugar cupcakes
  • 1 batch cinnamon ginger swiss meringue buttercream
  • 1 batch ginger cookie pecan brittle
  1. Prepare cupcakes as directed below
  2. While cupcakes are cooling, prepare brittle and set aside to cool
  3. Once cupcakes and brittle are cool, make frosting; frost cupcakes with a spatula or piping bag and top with broken brittle pieces
  4. Serve immediately; if you are making cupcakes in advance, do not top with brittle until just before serving

Brown Sugar Cupcakes
  • 1½ cups (7 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1⅛ cup (10.25 ounces) tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 extra large eggs at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅜ cup buttermilk
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 and line regular-sized cupcake tins with cupcake wrappers; set aside
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl; set aside
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed using an electric mixer for several minutes; beat until very light and fluffy
  4. Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl; add eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed in-between until each egg is combined
  5. Add vanilla and beat on high for one minute
  6. Reduce speed of mixer to low and slowly add one half of flour mixture, do not overmix
  7. Add buttermilk and then remaining flour mixture; turn off mixer before all dry ingredients are combined; remove bowl of mixer and slowly fold batter until dry ingredients are combined; do not overmix
  8. Evenly distribute batter into 17 prepared cupcakes, filling about ⅔ of each cup
  9. Bake cupcakes for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart
I wasn’t thrilled with the appearance of the cupcake by itself, it was completely flat on the top. Luckily, the taste and moist texture more than made up for it and the frosting covered up any lackluster looks I was worried about.
The cupcakes can be made up to one month in advance and frozen. Defrost for a couple of hours at room temperature prior to frosting.

Cinnamon Ginger Buttercream
Recipe type: Dessert
  • ½ cup egg whites (I used 3 extra-large but pasteurized egg whites work fine)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1⅛ cups (2¼ sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger (if you are using fresh ground ginger, start with less and add more to taste)
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • <1/8 teaspoon table salt
  1. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk attachment, whisk, spatula and candy thermometer with a paper towel and vinegar to clean (if any grease is on these items your meringue will not work)
  2. Place egg whites and sugar in mixing bowl over pot of simmering water; water should not be high enough to touch mixing bowl
  3. Whisk mixture slowly but constantly until temperature reaches 160 degrees F, about 5-10 minutes
  4. Remove from stove and attach bowl to electric mixer with whisk attachment
  5. Put mixer on low to medium speed and whisk until meringue is shiny and thick and bowl has cooled down to room temperature; if bowl does not cool and meringue has formed, you can put an ice bath under the mixing bowl while it is mixing
  6. Once ready, replace whisk attachment with paddle attachment and add cubes of butter one at a time mixing on low speed until the mixture is light and creamy; if mixture gets lumpy, keep mixing for several minutes; if it gets runny, place bowl in fridge for 10 minutes before continuing to mix
  7. Stop mixer to scrape sides of bowl and continue to beat on low speed for another minute
  8. Add vanilla, ginger, cinnamon and salt and mix on medium speed until the SMB is light and creamy
Adapted from Sweetapolita
You can frost the cupcakes up to one day in advance and keep them chilled until ready to serve so that the buttercream does not melt. Serve at room temperature

Ginger Cookie Pecan Brittle
Recipe type: Dessert
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup lightly chopped raw pecans
  • ¼ cup broken gingersnaps (about 3 cookies)
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, stir together sugar and corn syrup; microwave mixture on high for three minutes
  3. Stir in pecans, gingersnaps and salt; put in microwave for one minute and then stir; microwave for another thirty seconds keeping an eye on the mixture so as not to burn
  4. Stir in butter and vanilla; microwave for 30 seconds; be careful bowl may get very hot
  5. Stir in baking soda and immediately spread brittle onto parchment paper
  6. Allow to cool for 30 minutes; break brittle into small pieces for cupcakes
  7. If not using immediately, store in an airtight container for up to five days
Slightly adapted from Dessert for Two
The brittle can be made a couple of days in advance and stored in an airtight container until ready to use.  Top the cupcakes with the brittle right before serving for best results.


Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Cinnamon Ginger Buttercream and Ginger Cookie Pecan Brittle

Cookies, what?

Make something from the blog? Be sure to share it on Instagram with the tag #KeepItSweetDesserts.

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27 Responses to “Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Cinnamon Ginger Buttercream and Ginger Cookie Pecan Brittle”

  1. DessertForTwo August 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    Whoa, Lauren! You’ve really outdone yourself! I need one of these!

    • Keep It Sweet September 7, 2012 at 8:25 am #

      Only because I worked off of your brittle recipe!

  2. Kathryn August 26, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

    This is such a lovely combo of flavours Lauren! The brown sugar cupcakes sound like they’d be pretty wonderful on their own but I love the buttercream and brittle that you paired them with.

  3. Rachel @ My Naturally Frugal Family August 27, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Oh my! That brittle is very unique. It looks like very tasty and crunchy.

    What a fantastic idea you’ve had :)

  4. Joanne August 27, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    Is it weird that I’ve been dreaming about that brown sugar ginger ice cream ever since YOU had it? Lol. It’s like our tastebuds and minds are connected. I’m kind of in love with you for making these. I’ve been in a bit of a baking rut myself and now you’ve definitely gotten me out of it!

  5. Rachel Cooks August 27, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    These are gorgeous, Lauren!

  6. Valerie August 27, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    Just the name of these cupcakes is enough to send make me ravenous! They look amazing,(cookies don’t stand a chance)!

    p.s. Comfy t-shirts are the Best. :)

  7. Sandra August 27, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    Yes. Please and thank you!

  8. thelittleloaf August 27, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    Oh wow Lauren, these look sooo good. I love the sugar shards on top and cinnamon and ginger is such an awesome combination. Like you say, cookies…what? :-)

  9. Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb August 27, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    They look so gorgeous, I wish I had one here. Love the idea of brown sugar cupcakes, the ginger swirls, the creamy topping… another food day dream. ^.^

  10. Sues August 27, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    Whoa these are incredible looking!! That brittle is to DIE for!!

  11. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel August 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Oooh fancy!

  12. Cassie August 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    These look amazing. That brittle is such a fun touch!

  13. Miriam August 29, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    Wow, this looks really good. Almost as fancy looking as the fanciest ice-cream cup at a posh Italian restaurant. And it’s cake, not just ice-cream! ;)

    Have a nice week! :)

  14. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking August 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    Holy moly, these sound so good Lauren! LOVE a little fall inspired cupcake. Perfect recipe!

  15. Laura Dembowski August 30, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    Those cupcakes look so yummy! I love frosting made with egg whites, and that looks so creamy. The brittle is a great addition, too!

  16. Kristina August 31, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    these look fantastic, such great flavors!

  17. Monica @TheYummyLife September 1, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    Wow. What a combination of flavors and textures. I’ve never made a frosting with egg whites, but now I will. It looks good enough to eat with a spoon!

    • Keep It Sweet September 7, 2012 at 8:26 am #

      It is actually a lot easier than it sounds, just make sure all of your equipment is really clean and it is worth that bit of effort!

  18. Jen @ Savory Simple September 2, 2012 at 7:57 am #

    Right now I’m in a breakfast rut. I need to try some new things! Maybe I’ll have these cupcakes for breakfast :D

  19. Julia September 6, 2012 at 4:08 am #

    Just gorgeous! I saw your photo on and clicked over to your site.

  20. Audra@The-Baker-Chick September 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    I hear you on ruts girl- but man did you get out of yours with this cupcake! I love lots of flavors and the ones you chose sound amazing!

  21. Donna September 18, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    Just finished voting for you and wish you the best of luck! You had my vote all along!!!!!!!


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