Tuesday, August 8

Chocolate-Glazed Gingerbread Cakes

The small birthday party my niece gave this afternoon, seemed the perfect occasion for making a first birthday cake. Or in my case; really cute, single-serving chocolate-glazed gingerbread cakes from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.

I remember starting very pleased preparing all my ingredients. Thinking how nice it was I’d finally be able to use the handy silicon mould for mini muffins that had been lying in my cabinet for over a year…

O boy, what was I mistaken. Martha already kind of instructed me to generously butter and flour the standard 12-cup muffin pan, tapping out excess flour and set aside…
But I ignored Martha and didn’t generously butter and flour the standard muffin pan.
In fact I didn’t even have a standard 12-cup muffin pan; I had a very cute, silicon muffin mould I wanted to use! And Martha, you should know you really don’t have to butter and flour silicon baking products…

Well, you do. The ginger cakes turned out all messed up, for ever glued to their forms and, to my absolute fury, very ugly.
Looking back I blame the molasses. I guess the sugar caramelized in the oven and adhered to the form sides. *Grrrr…*
This was my first little breakdown. What a mile pale!
It may have been prevented if I just had done what the book told me, but luckily it didn’t turn out to be my first cooking disaster... because I remained with a lot of batter after filling my cute little mould, I also filled a standard form and a petit cake tin. Well, Hallelujah! :)

The result was a beautiful golden mini cake which I covered with thick chocolate ganache and decorated with some lovely little berries. A gorgeous birthday cake and a real success.

Besides, now I had the opportunity to sample and devour these little failures, which by the way tasted heavenly…
The cake was very moist and flavourful, with the wonderful, subtle taste of ginger and other spices. Very light and fluffy; forming the perfect base for the rich, heavy and divine chocolate ganache. In 1 word; delectable…!

Gingerbread cakes
(adapted from Martha Steward’s Baking Handbook. makes 12, can be baked a day in advance and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.)

- 5 Tbsp (60 g) butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
- 1 ½ cup (215 g) flour, plus more for pan.
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2/3 cup (157 ml) boiling water
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup (150 g) packed brown castor sugar
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup (230 g) unsulfured molasses
- 1 ½ tsp finely grated peeled fresh ginger
- 2 pieces crystallized ginger, thinly sliced lengthwise, for garnish. Or in my case: some summer fruit.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F. (175˚C) Generously butter and flour a standard 12-cup muffin pan, tapping out excess flour. Se aside.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the baking soda and boiling water; set aside.

3. In a medium bowl; sift together the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer; beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, and beat until well combined. Add molasses, fresh ginger, and the baking soda mixture; beat until combined. The batter will look soggy but will come together once the flour is added. Add the flour mixture, and beat until well combined.

5. Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about halfway. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack to cool completely.

6. Spoon about 1 Tbsp of Chocolate Ganache over each cake, letting some drip around the sides and garnish. Once glazed, cakes can be refrigerated, in airtight containers for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before serving.

Chocolate Ganache

- 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
- ½ pound (225 g) best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat bring cream to full boil, turn off the heat.

2. Add the chocolate, and swirl pan to completely cover it with cream. Let stand for about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk mixture until smooth. Let cool, stirring frequently.

Ganache will thicken as it sits. It should be pourable but still thick enough to coat. If not, place the bowl of ganache over a pan of simmering water and stir until it reaches the right consistency.

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