Gingerbread Cake with Chocolate Glaze

There are a lot of flavors that I associate with the holidays, one of which is gingerbread. It contains a myriad of different spices and flavors that combine together to create a very complex taste. I found this particular recipe while browsing Food52’s site and knew I had to make it. The recipe has some unique ingredients, such as dry mustard and beer, that contribute to the depth of flavors. It also contains chocolate both in and on top of the cake, so you really can’t go wrong. ;-)

The recipe does contain beer, but all alcohol gets cooked out during the baking process. If you’re concerned about using beer (or are just too lazy to buy some), you can easily substitute water in its place. I highly recommend sticking with the beer, though, as it really does amp the flavor. The recipe calls for a Porter, Ale or any similar dark brew. There are a lot of gingerbread cake recipes that call for Guinness as well, but I opted for a Porter. More specifically, I used Black Butte Porter as it had a 97 rating by some beer reviewer. ;-) You only use 3/4 cup and will therefore have leftover beer, so you might as well purchase a kind you’ll actually want to drink!

Gingerbread Cake with Chocolate Glaze

This recipe originally derives from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Elisa Huntsman, which is a book I bought just a few months ago on amazon for $34. Just one month later, used hardcovers were going for double that and new were going for $200+. The book is out-of-print and apparently now considered a rare book, so man, am I glad I purchased it when I did!! :) You will no doubt see many more blog entries from that book over the next few months.

This cake is very easy to make and is simply mixed by hand in a large bowl. Some melted chocolate is added to some of the batter and then swirled together. I just used a skewer and did circular motions around the cake once to create the marble effect.

Gingerbread Cake with Chocolate Glaze

The original book recipe uses a chocolate buttercream frosting on top, while the Food52 revision calls for a chocolate glaze. Since I was doing this in a tube pan, I felt the glaze would be the easiest and look the best. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I do not own a decorative bundt pan, despite being certain I owned one. So, the sides of my cake look a bit raggedy, but I assure you it does not take away from the flavor at all! :)

Once the cake is fully cooled, place it on a cooling rack. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and then place the rack on top. This will help collect any glaze that falls off the cake. Pour the melted chocolate glaze on top and then cool in the fridge until it’s set. I wanted the cake to be completely covered, but you could also simply drizzle it on top if you don’t want it to have too much chocolate. I’m not sure there’s such a thing as too much chocolate, though. ;-)

Gingerbread Cake with Chocolate Glaze

I personally think the cake tastes best at room temp, so I would remove it from the fridge a good 30-45 minutes before serving. Be sure to use a hot knife when cutting it. This cake is moist and rich and full of flavor, and it would be a perfect addition to your holiday menu! Enjoy!

Gingerbread Cake with Chocolate Glaze
Adapted from Food52
Original recipe from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
Serves 12-16

Cake:
2/3 cups canola or vegetable oil
2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
4 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cups dark beer (See note)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 teaspoon canola oil

Chocolate Glaze:
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon butter, softened
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C). Grease and flour a large (10-12 cup capacity) bundt or tube pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, molasses, eggs and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, spices, baking powder and baking soda.

3. Pour half the flour mixture on top of the eggs and fold the batter a few times. Add the buttermilk and fold until smooth. Pour the rest of the flour mixture on top, fold a few times and then add the beer. Fold until completely mixed. Remove 2 cups of batter and set aside; pour the remaining batter into the prepared pan.

4. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate and 1 teaspoon oil on low; stir until smooth. Stir or fold into reserved cake batter.

5. Pour chocolate batter on top and use a skewer to swirl the two together. Bake in preheated oven for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes and then turn it out onto a rack to cool.

6. To make the glaze, combine the chopped chocolate and butter in a medium bowl; set aside. Heat the cream in a small saucepan on medium just until it starts to boil. Pour over the chocolate and allow to sit untouched for 5 minutes. Then, gently stir the mixture until it is smooth. This will take a minute or two, and a whisk can be used to gently whisk it together. Place in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to set up the chocolate, and then serve the cake at room temperature.


Cook’s Notes

Guinness, Porter, Ale or any other dark beer would be perfect for this cake.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Cakes

I have one word to describe these mini cakes – uh-mazing!! Once again, I was browsing Food52’s site and ran across this recipe, sans the cream cheese filling. I was intrigued because I’d never had a soft pumpkin cookie. The name is very deceiving, though, as these are far from cookie texture and are much more cake-like.

Seeing that Thanksgiving is right around the corner and pumpkin-flavored anything is on a lot of people’s minds, I thought it appropriate to tackle this recipe before some of the others on my increasingly-growing “Want to Make” list of recipes. Plus, I already had all the ingredients in my house and so they were the perfect recipe to whip together Monday night.

These little gems are awesome. They’re full of pumpkin flavor and yummy spices, and best of all they’re packed with chocolate chips. However, I decided to take it to the next level and sandwich them together with cream cheese icing. I mean, who doesn’t love pumpkin and cream cheese together? AND with chocolate chips? Be still my heart.

For all of you watching your weight, the bonus is that each cookie (sans filling) is only 55 calories. That means you can have 2 cookies for just over 100 calories. Unfortunately, these cookies are like that Lays slogan – “Bet you can’t eat just one.” Yah, I failed that test. BUT, if you want something a bit healthier, skip the cream cheese filling and you can enjoy the cakes on their own. Trust me, they don’t really need the frosting, but in my opinion it makes them sublime. :)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Cakes

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Cakes
Adapted from Food52
Yield: 70 cookies or 35 sandwiches

Pumpkin Mini Cakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips (See note)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
orange zest, to taste (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C) and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, pumpkin, vanilla and egg until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined; fold in the chocolate chips. Do not over-mix!

4. Using a #70 scoop, place level scoops of batter onto the cookie sheet, leaving an inch in between the cookies. Alternately, you can drop by a tablespoon if you don’t care about uniformly-shaped cookies. ;)

5. Bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Mine took exactly 12 minutes.)

6. Allow cakes to cool completely before removing from the cookie sheet. Repeat the baking process until all the batter is used.

7. For the frosting: Cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. On low speed, add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add vanilla extract. If desired, add a little orange zest for additional flavor. Pipe a 1-inch circle onto a cake and sandwich it together with another cake. Good luck eating only one!! :)


Cook’s Notes

1. I placed my chocolate chips into a food processor for a few seconds in order to break the chips into smaller pieces. It’s not necessary, but it helps disperse the chocolate since the cookie scoop is quite small. Alternately, you could just use mini chips. :)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Okay, so this is my first “official” food post. It probably won’t come as a surprise to my friends that I’m choosing something that combines peanut butter and chocolate – two of my most favorite things ever. I made this cake earlier this year and instantly fell in love. It’s extremely rich, dense and amazing… and let’s just say you’ll probably need a tall glass of milk to go along with it! In my opinion, it is best served at room temp because the chilled cake becomes super dense.

On a side note, this blog is still very much a work in progress and I’m working on getting some different functions added. The one main function I want to add is a print function because it’s always so handy to be able to click the print button instead of having to copy/paste. Please feel free to chime in with any other comments or suggestions you may have!  I will also do my very best to answer any questions and such along the way. Thanks for all your support! Without further adieu…

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Cake:
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups brewed coffee, warm
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups white sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (or 3/4 cup chocolate chips)

Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, room temp (1 stick)
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup peanut butter
4 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tablespoons heavy cream (or more, as needed)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup dry roasted peanuts

Cake Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 13×9 pan.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk cocoa powder and coffee until smooth; set aside. In another bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at time, and then add vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture. The batter will be very thin.

4. Pour batter in pan and sprinkle with chopped chocolate. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake on rack.

Frosting Instructions:
1. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening and peanut butter until creamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, heavy cream and vanilla. Whip until light and fluffy.

2. Spread frosting on cooled cake. Sprinkle chopped chocolate and peanuts on top. Enjoy!

Cook’s Notes

1. This cake can also be baked in 3 – 9” round cake pans and stacked. However, it is an extremely rich cake and so I would highly recommend keeping it as a sheet cake. :) If you do stack it, you’ll likely need to double the frosting mixture.

2. Milk or almond milk can be substituted for the heavy cream in the frosting. I’ve been known to use plain yogurt when nothing else was available!  You can also add more or less depending on whether you want it to be a soft or firm frosting.

3. Unless specified, I always use unsalted butter.