Friday, November 12, 2010

Ginger Cakes with Chocolate Glaze

We are now squarely planted in a chilly season that calls for the warm embrace of spice and chocolate. As evening breaks earlier and the familiar sound of rain arrives right on cue, ginger and chocolate seem to join perfectly together at our table.

This is a recipe that balances the boldness and intrigue of these two earthy ingredients. The cakes are warmed by a full jolt of ginger and the richness of molasses and deepened to a sort of butterscotchy goodness with pure butter and a splash of rum. Once the cakes are plated they are handsomely draped in a sheen of dark chocolate to make resistance nearly futile. Heady aromas, chewy and silky textures and strong but soothing flavors co-mingle all in one bite.

This is a rich and satisfying homage to fall. Share over a cup of good strong coffee or a nip of your favorite spirit.

Bench notes:
- Coarsely chop the crystallized ginger into small pieces using a sharp chef’s knife. It gets sticky but keep going. Add the chopped pieces to the flour mixture and toss to coat and separate.
- When adding the egg and the molasses to the creamed butter and sugar mixture, it will start to break but it will come together once the rest of the ingredients are added.
- I baked these in 6 oz (3.75" diameter) tapered ramekins for 23 minutes. You can also use a standard muffin pan, which will yield about 6 smaller cakes, so those will bake much quicker. Check them after about 13 - 15 minutes. These are very moist cakes with a dense crumb so be careful not to overbake. A toothpick test for doneness should have a few moist crumbs.
- For the chocolate glaze, chopping the chocolate into fairly small bits helps it to melt more evenly and efficiently. When the hot cream is added, let it sit for about 2 – 3 minutes so the chocolate can absorb the heat. Then stir gently and slowly, starting in the middle and working outward in concentric circles, to prevent it from cooling down too fast and creating air bubbles. The glaze can be reheated over a low simmering bain marie.
- You can add a couple of teaspoons of corn syrup to the glaze to keep it shiny and improve viscosity.
- An alternative way to enjoy these cakes is to forego the chocolate glaze and serve them with poached pear or sautéed apples and cream or simply with some whipped cream flavored with rum, brandy, Kahlua or orange liqueur or a little bit of marmalade. Or vanilla ice cream, of course.
- If you love ginger, try a delicious Ginger Ice Cream.

Ginger Cakes with Chocolate Glaze
Makes 4 cakes

2/3 C flour
2 t ground ginger
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 C (2 oz) finely chopped crystallized ginger
4 oz (1 stick) butter @ room temperature
1/2 C sugar
2 eggs @ room temperature
1/3 C molasses
2 T milk
2 T rum

Chocolate Glaze

3 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 t vanilla

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Grease four 6 oz custard cups or six of the cups in a standard muffin pan.

Sift together the flour, ground ginger, baking powder and salt.
Finely chop the crystallized ginger. Add to the flour mixture and toss with your fingers to coat and separate each piece.

Combine the milk and the rum.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly. Blend in the molasses. The mixture will look like it’s breaking.

Add half the flour mixture and mix just a bit. Add the milk and rum and continue mixing. Add the remaining flour and mix just a few seconds. Finish mixing by hand until all the flour is incorporated.

Pour into prepared custard cups and place on a baking sheet. Bake for about 23 minutes or until a tester comes out with a few moist crumbs. Place on a cooling rack and cool for 10 minutes. Run a small spatula or thin bladed knife around the edges to loosen the cakes and invert.

For the chocolate glaze, finely chop the chocolate and place in a bowl. Heat the cream (and corn syrup, if using) on low heat until it reaches a good simmer. Remove from heat, add vanilla and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for about 2 - 3 minutes. Stir slowly until fully combined.

Plate the cakes and spoon some chocolate glaze over the top of each.


Taz said...

mm, this looks delicious. I adore crystallized in cake. Yummo!

Anonymous said...

What temperature do you bake it?

pastry studio said...

Anonymous, thanks so much for noticing my omission. Good grief! I've amended the recipe to include the baking temp of 350 degrees.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for the speedy correction! I was hoping to make these to impress my in-laws tonight... and they`re in the oven right now. I can`t wait! :) They look so delicious in your photos!

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

Your photos with that ganache oozing down the sides of that cake are making my mouth water. Bravo.


lisaiscooking said...

I woke up to a cool morning, and these cakes do look perfect for this weather. In fact, I wish I could have one for breakfast right now!

Victoria said...

These look delicious. Ginger and chocolate is one of my favorite flavor combinations.

Do you think it would be gilding the lily to add a dollop of softly whipped cream WITH the chocolate glaze?

I'm thinking of flavoring it with Gosling's Black Seal Rum since that's what I use in Dark & Stormy's - rum and ginger beer. But I've never tried that Canton ginger liqueur, so maybe that's a possibility too.

pastry studio said...

lisaiscooking, you have me laughing about your breakfast comment!!

Hello Victoria! Yes, it would be gilding the lily but I also imagine it would likely be fantastic! Let me know if you get a chance to try it.

Anonymous said...


I have made these into nine muffins, they are very juicy and flavorful, but so so so sweet! Sugar+molasses AND crystallized ginger -is it not possible to cut the sugar somewhere? I mean they were really yummy but they are so sugary that they tickle your throat!

pastry studio said...

Hi Anonymous and thanks for your feedback.

The level of sugar in this dessert is intended to act as a foil for the dark bittersweet chocolate and for the cakes to be very moist. It's not clear from your comment whether you made the full recipe as dessert or as muffins. But in any case, you can certainly try decreasing the sugar. I'm also not in favor of sugary pastries, so I encourage you to experiment. Although I haven't tested this, you might try decreasing the sugar by half to 1/4 cup since it sounds like you really didn't care for the level called for in the recipe.

Thanks again for your feedback and I hope you're able to enjoy your revision to the recipe.

Victoria said...

I'm surprised by the comment from Anonymous regarding how "sugary" this recipe is.

I have never found any of your recipes to be too sweet to be cloying, and although I always make a recipe the exact way the first time, I generally decrease the amount of sugar in most baking recipes because I find the original to be too sweet.

This is not true for recipes by you and recipes by Alice Medrich.

pastry studio said...

Thanks for your comment, Victoria. This is a rich dessert, but I do try to keep sugar to a minimum. The crystallized ginger I used was not excessively sugared so that may have some impact as well.

I once quit eating processed sugar for 10 years so I find I'm pretty sensitive to it. However, since I've been in the world of pastry production, I may have lost my edge and it may be time for another retreat!!

Alice Medrich is a flawless baker and one of the first to really examine the balance of ingredients in her recipes. I very much admire her work.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gayle, I have lost your email address in a computer crash but wanted to be sure you saw this article, though I have little doubt that you are aware of this phenomena

Please send me an email and I'll re-enter it in my address book.

love to you,

pastry studio said...

Thank you, Chris. You've got mail.

PetPeeveGirl said...

Girl. I'm always amazed, every time I read your blog. Such talent.

Tapping Therapy said...

Oh my! That oozing chocolate! Very much tempting and enticing.. Oh shoot, there goes my diet again! I'm craving one.

diva said...

Blimey!! That dripping chocolate! This is positively decadent.