A few days ago, while visiting the blog Cannelle et Vanille, I followed a link to a blog called Cook & Eat. There I found a recent post for chocolate gingerbread. I love gingerbread. I am always happy to try another recipe. Gingerbread is a favorite from my childhood. My mom kept sweets to a minimum in our home, but gingerbread is a favorite of hers and it was one dessert that appeared with some frequency on our table. The gingerbread that she made was spicy and dark with molasses. When I began baking on my own I discovered that there were many other types of gingerbreads. It can run the gamut from light and tender to dark and moist...almost sticky—all pretty wonderful as far as I'm concerned. Should I continue with my blog for many years, gingerbread will probably make several appearances.
When I tried out the chocolate gingerbread, one of the things I really liked about it was that even with (maybe because of) the addition of the chocolate, the molasses flavor really comes through. The cake is soft, sweet and spicy—with the nice surprise of chocolate chips. I can't imagine what there isn't to like.
The recipe is adapted it from a book called Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth. I don't have this book, so I'm not sure what adjustments Lara Ferroni made to the original recipe. When I made it, I didn't stray too far from her adaptation. Her recipe included some optional flaxseed meal. I don't keep this on hand, so I left it out. It also included crystallized ginger. I left this out as well and increased the amount of ground ginger. Finally, I reduced the flour just slightly.
The first time I made the recipe, I doubled it. I loved her use of the small loaf pans. These tiny loaves when sliced make a lovely accompaniment to afternoon tea or coffee.
But I also wanted to see how the recipe would perform in a regular cake pan. Doubling the recipe allowed me to try both. The day I tried the recipe I was going to dinner at a friend's house and wanted to take a dessert. I thought that the round version, with a little chocolate glaze, would be just the thing. Gingerbread is very good plain, but it was really nice with the glaze. My friends agreed.
As I was thinking about how much I liked the recipe, it occurred to me that it would make good cup cakes...and since Halloween is just around the corner I decided to try it right away and frost them with maple cream cheese frosting tinted orange. What can I say?—the recipe makes really good cup cakes. In fact, of all the variations that I made on this recipe, the cup cake was my favorite. I had to put most of them in the freezer to keep from eating too many.
The recipe below is the doubled version. It makes four mini loaves, or 24 cup cakes or 2 8-inch round cakes. I imagine it would also be fine baked in one 9-inch square cake pan. It really is a versatile little cake. When I made it the second time, I made 12 cup cakes and another 8-inch round. There was just enough frosting left over from the cup cakes to frost the top of the large cake...making it look a little like one giant cup cake.
2 1/4 c. all purpose flour (260 grams)
1 t. baking soda
4 T. natural cocoa powder
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 T. ground ginger
1/8 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 t. salt
8 T. unsalted butter
1 c. packed golden brown sugar
1 c. buttermilk
2/3 c. molasses
1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°. Prepare the pan(s): line muffin pan with paper liners; butter and flour loaf pans; butter, line with parchment, butter the paper and then flour 8-inch round cake pans. Recipe makes 24 cup cakes, or 2 round cake layers or 4 mini loaves (or a combination thereof).
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl in after the first addition. Combine the buttermilk and molasses. Add the flour mixture in three additions alternately with the buttermilk-molasses mixture in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Fold in the chocolate chips with the final addition of the dry ingredients.
Spread the batter in the pans and bake until springy to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes for large pans and loaves. About 20 to 25 minutes for cup cakes. Cool on a wire rack before serving.
Chocolate Honey Glaze (from Cocolat): Place 3 oz. of chopped bittersweet chocolate in a microwave safe bowl along with 2 oz. of unsalted butter (cut into pieces) and 1 T. of honey. Microwave on medium (50% power) until almost melted. Stir gently until completely smooth. Cool until the glaze mounds briefly before disappearing when dropped from a spoon. Pour over cake.
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (from The Vineyard Kitchen): Place 4 oz. of unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer along with 4 1/2 oz. of confectioners' sugar, 1/8 t. kosher salt and 1/4 t. vanilla. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy—about 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Add 8 oz. cream cheese and beat until incorporated—about 20 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and drizzle in 2 T. of pure maple syrup. Beat until smooth—about 15 seconds. Makes more than enough for 12 cup cakes.