For several years now, I have spent New Year’s Eve with friends from college. We have a feast of a dinner, play lots of games, drink champagne, and generally have a silly time together!
One of our favorite games is a German children’s board game called “Waldschattenspiel”, which one of my friends discovered while studying in Germany. It’s a perfect game for playing late on New Year’s Eve because it has to be played in the dark. One person is the candle (an actual lighted candle) and the rest are gnomes on a three-dimensional board representing a forest. The game is a race to see whether the candle can find all the gnomes before the gnomes all find each other. Playing in the dark adds a lot of excitement to the experience … particularly when someone tries to refill their wine glass or find the plate of cookies mid-game 😉
This Thursday, I’ll be bringing these celebratory champagne pear cupcakes to our gathering and looking forward to playing Waldschattenspiel once again! What are your favorite New Year’s Eve traditions?
Pear Ginger Cupcakes
Makes 10 cupcakes.
- 1 moderately ripe pear
- 2 c all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 Tbsp minced candied ginger
- 1 c unsweetened almond milk
- ⅓ c canola oil
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- ¾ c granulated sugar
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or substitute vanilla extract)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners or lightly grease the wells with oil.
Grate the pear using the medium-sized holes on a box grater.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the candied ginger, making sure it is well-distributed throughout the mixture and not clumped together.
In a medium bowl, combine milk, oil, lemon juice, sugar, vanilla, and ½ c grated pear. Make sure the ingredients are well mixed.
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine the two mixtures quickly and gently. Immediately scoop the mixture into the muffin cups. Bake for 21-26 minutes or until the tops of the cupcakes are light golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Champagne Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes enough to frost 10 cupcakes.
- ¼ c champagne
- ⅓ c vegan margarine
- ⅓ c vegan cream cheese
- 2 ⅓ c powdered sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
Pour the champagne into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil on the stove. Continue to boil until the liquid is reduced to 1 Tbsp.
Once the reduced champagne has cooled to room temperature, add the margarine and cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Beat in 1 c powdered sugar. Next, beat in the reduced champagne. Finally, beat in the remaining powdered sugar in two parts, and the cinnamon and ginger.
Put the frosting in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up, then frost each cupcake in a thin layer and serve.