From the Altitude Adjustments article in the February 2017 issue

Created for baking at about 7,000 feet in Santa Fe (with altitude adjustments in parentheses), this recipe contains a triple bite: powdered ginger, grated fresh gingerroot, and pepper; add more or less spice to suit your taste. Without the icing, you can dust the cupcakes with sifted confectioners’ sugar; with icing, top with slivered candied ginger. This recipe is a dinner-party winner and bake-sale or picnic favorite.


1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated peeled gingerroot, or more to taste 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 3/4 teaspoon baking soda (1 teaspoon for sea level)

3/4 teaspoon salt (1/2 teaspoon for sea level to 5,000 feet)

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground ginger, or to taste

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or ground white pepper)

Pinch cayenne pepper, optional

1/2 cup unsulfured molasses

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons very hot water (1 cup for sea level through 5,000 feet)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 large eggs (1 egg for sea level), room temperature

2/3 cup full-fat sour cream (1/2 cup for sea level to 3,000 feet)

Garnish: About  cup candied ginger, finely chopped or slivered Rum Lemon Icing 


2 ounces (about 4 tablespoons) cream cheese, room temperature

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon dark rum

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pinch of salt

Makes 4 cups batter for eight 3-inch or 21 2-inch cupcakes, or 32 mini-cupcakes, and 1 generous cup of icing—enough for larger cupcakes; double recipe for mini-cupcakes.


  1. Position a rack in center of the oven and preheat to 350°. Line cupcake/muffin pans with paper liners or generously grease and flour the pans. Grate gingerroot and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  3. Combine the molasses and hot water in a 2-cup measure and stir until dissolved.
  4. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until very well blended. Scrape down bowl and beater. Beat in eggs, sour cream, and grated gingerroot. Scrape down bowl again. With mixer on lowest speed, alternately add the flour mixture and the molasses liquid. Scrape bowl, beat a few seconds longer. Batter will be soft.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared cups; fill about full and bake for about 20–24 minutes or until tops of cupcakes are well risen and a cake tester or toothpick in the center comes out dry. (Time varies depending on cup size and elevation.) Cool pans on wire rack. Store completely cooled cupcakes in airtight containers. Let cool completely before adding icing or peeling off paper liners—warm cakes are fragile.
  6. In food processor, blend cream cheese and butter, add sugar, and pulse. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until thick and smooth. Add more sugar or rum/lemon to adjust texture and taste if needed. Icing thickens when refrigerated.
  7. Pipe onto cupcakes through a decorating tube fitted with star tip or spread with knife. Garnish icing with slivered or chopped candied ginger.