Ginger Cake with Mandarin Cream Cheese Frosting

by Heather on December 7, 2010

Confession:  I feel a little bit guilty about all the Nutella posts lately.  Really, I do.  But to be honest that’s just what I’ve had on the brain since I bought a 2-pack of massive Nutella jars at CostCo for my own enjoyment Nate.

HOWEVER, today we’re going to let the Nutella rest in it’s jar for a bit and talk about one of my favorite holiday desserts:  ginger cake.  No, not gingerbread (although that is fabulous too), but ginger in cake form.  With cream cheese frosting. I don’t know about you, but cream cheese frosting is really the only reason to eat things like carrot cake, red velvet cake, and ginger cake.

KIDDING!  But let’s be honest here:  it only makes it that much better.  And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love the frosting a little more sometimes.  I can honestly say I’ve never had it spiked with mandarin orange before though!

This cake is tall, luscious, SPICY, and decadent, only to be topped with even more decadence in the cream cheese frosting.  It just makes me wonder why I even eat things like “chicken” and “vegetables” when true foodie happiness can be found here:

So why the mandarin orange?  Well, it’s pretty simple really:  that’s all the grocery store had when I was there.  However, I really couldn’t have picked a better match for this cake.  The mandarin orange is sweet with minimal tartness and the zest is much more subtle than a regular orange.  A regular naval orange would work just fine, but I was SO pleased with this one!  The hardest part though was that it’s hard to get those teeny tiny sections out for garnishing, but it’s a small price to pay for deliciousness :)


  • 2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 heaping tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp allspice

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease a 9×13 pan with butter; set aside.  In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and molasses and stir til combined.  Sift together the dry ingredients and slowly add to the wet mixture.  When that’s almost combined, stir in the butter milk.  Pour into the pan and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.  Let cool completely before frosting.


  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • zest and juice from 1 mandarin orange (should yield about 2-3 Tbsp of juice)

In a bowl cream together the butter and cream cheese.  Add the powdered sugar and slowly combine.  Add the mandarin orange juice slowly until spreadable consistency is reached (I added all of the juice in mine).  Fold in the zest.  Frost cake with frosting when it’s cooled.

Y’all, one bite and I knew this was holiday flavor at it’s finest.

Thank goodness I had everyone at church to share it with otherwise you’d probably see me rolling my way back home…


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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 KeepItSweet December 7, 2010

what a creative mix of flavors! the mandarin cream cheese icing is such a good idea


2 Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman December 7, 2010

This looks awesome but I’m going to be honest: Given the choice between this and Nutella French toasts, I might choose the latter.


3 Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg December 7, 2010

Yum! This is a sophisticated cake!


4 Estela @ Weekly Bite December 7, 2010

This is such a pretty cake! I love the way the icing falls over the cake!


5 Nienke at Revel December 7, 2010

Yum! Orange is one of my favourite flavours around Christmastime. And beautiful pics, Heather!


6 Jessica @ How Sweet December 7, 2010

That frosting alone sounds incredible!


7 Katie @ Health for the Whole Self December 7, 2010

I’ve never had a frosting like this before, but it sounds nothing short of divine!


8 Matt December 7, 2010

I will be over for dessert tonight ;)


9 Liz @ Tip Top Shape December 7, 2010

As much as I love Nutella, this recipe looks even better than any of the Nutella creations!! Then again, put creamcheese on top of anything and I will think it is the greatest thing ever :)


10 Balanced Healthy Life December 7, 2010

I love ginger baked goods with cream cheese frosting! This recipe looks fabulous! How creative! : )


11 Natalia - a side of simple December 7, 2010

Cream cheese icing IS the only reason for carrot cake’s existsence in my book. No shame ;)


12 Nic December 7, 2010

Looks tasty and refreshing! What a fun combo!


13 Salah December 7, 2010



14 Krystina (Basil & Wine) December 7, 2010

I want nothing more than to lick off that dripping icing.


15 Dorry December 7, 2010

This is something I’ll be thinking about for days! I LOVE ginger baked goods and the mandarin flavor makes is even more holidayish. Yum!


16 LiveForTheRun December 7, 2010

Who needs a gingerbread man or house when you have this!

There is nothing better than homemade cream cheese frosting!


17 Rachel @ The Avid Appetite December 7, 2010

I never thought of oranges and gingerbread together! Sounds delightful :)


18 Ffion December 7, 2010

My mum puts orange zest on frosting quite often: it tastes amazing! I’v also started adding it to greek yogurt on the morning. In my mind it makes it taste like frosting :)


19 Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum December 7, 2010

This is SO PRETTY. I am in love.


20 Maria @ Oh Healthy Day December 8, 2010

Beautiful! I totally agree – the cake is simply just a place to put the cream cheese frosting so you don’t look incredibly silly eating it out of the bowl with a spoon. Not that I’ve done that or anything…


21 kristastes December 8, 2010

This looks yummy!! Cream cheese frosting is my absolute favorite but I’ve never had it spiked with anything except cinnamon!


22 Eesti December 8, 2011



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