Tuesday, January 27, 2009

TWD: Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread


I made this week's TWD recipe, fresh ginger and chocolate gingerbread, while I was still reeling from my thorough beating at the hands of the diva eggs. So I was pretty much a nervous wreck the whole time I was making this -- walking on eggshells, talking to the eggs, asking them if they were comfortable, if the temperature was to their liking, if they'd prefer to get mixed to Norah Jones or Kenny G. But these were definitely "Enough about us! What can we do for YOU?" kind of eggs -- I think I could have taken them out back for an egg toss and they'd just giggle and say "you so crazy!"

Because the eggs were so agreeable, and the gingerbread was so relatively easy to throw together, I wish that I had more to give back. Like pictures. Or rave reviews. Unfortunately, I was rushing around while making this, because I had been counting on being able to bring the Berry Surprise Cake to David's grandmother's 90th birthday party, and when that flopped, I had to throw the gingerbread together at the eleventh hour while also packing up our family's belongings like an honest-to-goodness pack mule for our one night, 3.5 hour trip. Therefore, I barely took any pictures at all, and the ones I did get were pretty rushed. Now, after you see them you might think "Wait. I don't see how these are any different from the pictures you post when you actually take time to set up the shot." And to that, I would just say, "Hey! You're right! They're all bad!" But at least I have an excuse this week.

This was my first time making real gingerbread. I like gingerbread, and have made gingerbread cookies before, but not gingerbread gingerbread. This looked like an interesting version to start with. As the name would suggest, it actually contains a generous two tablespoons of fresh ginger (which gets mixed with sugar) in addition to a generous two teaspoons of ground ginger. And if you really want to add a ginger exclamation point, you have the option of adding "stem ginger in syrup" as well, which I did not even consider doing because I was pretty sure that the non-optional ingredients had us well-covered in the ginger department (and pretty sure that I would not be able to find stem ginger in my town anyway).

In addition to the ginger, this recipe contained many of the usual gingerbread suspects -- cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar, molasses -- as well as an unexpected twist: both melted bittersweet chocolate and chopped bittersweet chocolate get added to the batter.



I always melt chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of water. I realize that the microwave would be quicker, but in my family we like to do things the hard way. Take my 4 year old, who puts her shirts on by stepping into the neck hole, pulling the shirt up over her legs and torso and then wriggling her arms into the arm holes via the neck hole. I tell her: "babe, you know, that would be way more efficient if you just pull the shirt over your head -- you'd have a lot less ground to cover that way." And she just looks at me like I have no idea what I am talking about (a look that I expect to become quite familiar with as the years go on) and says, "I do it the way I do it." Well, when it comes to melting chocolate, I do it the way I do it, which happens to be the hard way.



You finish the cake off with a wonderful icing made of bittersweet chocolate, confectioner's sugar, butter and a tablespoon of coffee. And voila! It looks just like chocolate cake! So if you happen to be a chronically overapologizing chocoholic like I am, you can bring this to a party and then spend the whole night apologizing to everyone for the fact that it is not chocolate cake!

Whenever we watch sports on TV, David and I always get a kick out of watching the post-game interviews. The questions and answers are always clichéd, but the enthusiasm of the asker and answerer are infectious:

Reporter (yelling over din of the crowd): This is a big win, Dan. How big is this? Where does it rank?
Dan (also yelling): Oh, it's huge, Bob, just huge.

Anyway, since there were so many family members/tasters at the birthday party, and David's relatives are so much fun, I originally planned to get my sideline reporter on and do some post-gingerbread interviews, along the lines of "Cousin John, you're no stranger to gingerbread. You've been here before. But put this into context for us. Where does this gingerbread rank among your many memorable gingerbread-eating experiences?" Unfortunately, just as I was gearing up to ask John my first question, my internal "Kiddie Destruction" alarm sounded, and in my head I heard one, possibly two, of my children thinking "I wonder what would happen if I hit this Lladró figurine with great-granddaddy's gavel?," so I had to cut off the conversation and say "I must go! A breakable object is in trouble!" As it turned out, I was so busy trying to keep my three little bulls from breaking anything in the china shop that is their great-grandmother's house that I didn't really have the chance to have a real adult conversation with anyone about gingerbread (or anything else). David's cousin's wife did say that she loved it and actually asked me for the recipe, but they just got married last summer, so that might just have been "new to the family" politeness. Give her a year and she'll be brutally honest about other people's desserts just like the rest of us.

I might be projecting my own feelings about this gingerbread onto the crowd, but the overall vibe I got was that people liked, but did not love, the gingerbread. I found it to be VERY gingery. I guess if anything can stand to be very gingery, it's gingerbread, but I would still go a little lighter on it next time. Also, while the chocolate is a nice touch (and I thought the chocolate icing was one of the the best parts of this), as a practical matter I probably won't make chocolate gingerbread again. My hubs doesn't eat chocolate, and obviously classic gingerbread does not call for chocolate, so gingerbread is an obvious non-chocolate dessert option for us. Still, this was fun and refreshingly easy to make, and it totally bailed me out after the Berry Surprise Cake Incident. Plus, baking gingerbread is one of those experiences that has the power to take you to another place, if only temporarily. It is sort of the Coppertone Suntan Lotion of the baking world in that respect. Even though I made this on January 16, the aroma of gingerbread filling my kitchen made me feel like I was way behind on shopping, Christmas cards and wrapping all over again! What's not to love about that? Heather of Sherry Trifle chose the gingerbread this week, and you can find the recipe over at her blog. Thanks, Heather!

55 comments:

Heather said...

ginger is definitely one of those flavors that can be overpowering. sometimes i use it and think - ow. a dessert is burning my tongue off!! i like how this one uses so many ginger types, but i agree with you - the amounts sound "generous". i love the chocolate topping, though, and your pictures look just scrumptious!!

n.o.e said...

I'm glad you and the eggs had so much fun in the kitchen with this one, Cathy. Too bad you had to interrupt the festivities with packing. And I always intend to do that reporting thing when I serve one of the TWD desserts, but even at book group (4 couples, all adults) I don't always get to gather the facts. I'm impressed that you even got the cake to the party with all you had going on. SO TRUE: if ever there was a dessert that survives very well without chocolate, thank you, it's gingerbread.
Nancy

Steph said...

I loved the gingeriness, but I omitted the ginger chuncks b/c I don't like biting into them. This was my first gingerbread gingerbread too! I thought the chocolate was an interesting addition. At least your way of melting chocolate wont dry it out like the microwave!

pinkstripes said...

I love, love your daughter's explanation, "I do it the way I do it". I'm going to start using it.

Your gingerbread looks great. And yummy.

SiHaN said...

i can just imagine the quirky look on your daughter's face as you were trying to explain yourself. haha. The gingerbread looks great though! chocolate was a major distraction sadly..

Audrey said...

I'm feeling SO much better that I'm no the only one who doesn't get the chocolate and gingerbread thing. Shall I confess now that instead of just throwing away the last piece, I ate just the frosting part? (Loved that part!) But I think your photo BEAUTIFULLY captures the chocolate cakiness of this cake. And please, please, please keep doing it the way you do it. Tuesdays wouldn't be the same without you!

Cristine said...

Glad the eggs were friendly this week! Your posts are so fantastic! :)

The Blonde Duck said...

Cathy, you crack me up. If only I had a picture of the eggs giggling about the gingerbread reporter.

natalia said...

Ciao Cathy ! These little ones scare me what will we do in ten years ? You were so brave to bake at the last moment such a nice cake !!

Katherine Aucoin said...

You still have me laughing about the diva eggs. This also looks amazing and has me drooling.

Jennifer said...

"I do it the way I do it" sounds way better than "because" which is my usual explanation!

My husband took the leftover cake to work and I was all "Make SURE YOU TELL THEM IT'S GINGERBREAD" because my cake looked uber-chocolate-y, too, and I was really afraid it would be like when you pick up a glass of soda and it turns out to be milk and the person would be like "UGH? What is this?"

Sabrina said...

I used this recipe to really beat the crap out of my eggs! They loved me for it!

Very nice job! Your stories are terrific!

Maria said...

Another great post!! I love your stories!! The cake looks wonderful!

leanne said...

Love the post. I am impressed that you started another recipe right after the diva recipe. I would have stopped for something on the way.

Gabe's Girl said...

What a great post!

MacDuff said...

I laughed out loud at this - yeah, it's nice getting rid of those bitchy eggs, don't you think? I'm tempted to try this one later, but then at the same time, I think I'd ditch the chocolate and go for whipped cream instead. Although I, like you, enjoy doing things the hard way. Which is why this comment was written with one hand tied behind my back, all my fingers bound in splints so that only one can type, my computer screen isn't facing me, and I'm tap dancing.

Flourchild said...

I thought it was real gingery too. I did like it better the day after. I guess the flavors need to mingle together. I had fun shaping my bread into my state!

Jessica said...

Of course, the whole post is wonderful, as usual. But my favorite part is your apt description of gingerbread as the "Coppertone Suntan Lotion of the baking world." SO true! I love the way Coppertone smells, it reminds me of summer vacation and the beach. And gingerbread is equally comforting. I didn't love the recipe either but I feel like now I know what I do and don't like with my gingerbread.

Cooking for Comfort by Jennifer said...

I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when it came to the eggs not being bonafide divas this week.

I love the story of your daughter putting on the shirt...that cracked me up...we all have to do things our own way!

You did a beautiful job on your cake...I loved this recipe (minus the fresh ginger.)

chocolatechic said...

I used about ½ the amounts of ginger called for, and doubled the icing.

It was perfection.

PS..the microwave is much easier.

Teanna said...

Seriously. I LOVE your posts. You crack me up week after week. A few things... your pictures aren't bad! They are great! Also, I was doing the whole "This isn't chocolate cake, it is gingerbread cake" thing as well! Hahahah great post, great pics, love the cake!

Oh, and guess where I ate last night? Jaleo! There is one across the street from my apartment in Crystal City and I totally thought about you!

Jules Someone said...

Sorry you didn't get the play by play. I'm sure all the reviews were raves!

Danielle said...

Great job. Did the eggs pick Norah or Kenny!

Di said...

I swear, I'm just waiting for the day when I can go somewhere with the girls and not spend the entire time trying to make sure they're staying out of trouble and not breaking anything. Gillian, in particular, is in that stage where anything can happen.

I'm glad the gingerbread worked out much better for you than last week's cake. It looks terrific with the icing on top.

Karen said...

You are hilarious and actually make me giggle at my desk. Which is all well and good except for the stares I get from students! :) Hope your little bulls didn't break anything too expensive.

Mara said...

I used ground ginger and pumpkin pie spice so mine was more subtle, but I loved it. I am not a fan of TOO spicy on the ginger scene. I made cupcakes, but I love your big chubby looking cake. YUM.

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

With Kenny G anything I baked would wind up having throwup in it as an added ingredient. Nice gingerbread gingerbread.

kim said...

i was pretty relieved to have non-diva eggs this week too :) your cake looks great! next time, instead of apologizing, just write "gingerbread" on top with icing and then people will be expecting it, haha;) btw i melt chocolate over water too!!

Banjo said...

Your cake looks great and you are so right, ginger is definitely an acquired taste. :)

Melissa said...

Baking this made me feel like it was Christmas all over again too. And I actually think your pictures look really great for being rushed - I'd have never known. Looks yummy!

Pamela said...

I need to put fresh batteries in my "Kiddie Destruction Alarm". We have a party to go to this weekend and I need to be on my game, that's for sure! I have a feeling that the new bride is really being honest and not just polite, too!
I loved the comment about feeling you were behind on the holidays. :o)
Thanks for always putting a bright spot in my blog reading.

Jess said...

Gingerbread as the Coppertone Suntan Lotion of the baking world - you might be right. Your photo looks decadent and rich, not just clumpy and brown like mine. I actually think I prefer my gingerbread without chocolate, come to think of it. The Fannie Farmer recipe still wins...

Anne said...

After last weeks crazy eggs I'm glad this recipe was easy on you! I agree about the chocolate, too. Those non-chocolate eating husbands can be tricky!

That's too funny about your daughter and the shirt. I can totally picture my little guy doing the same thing!

Sara said...

Cathy, you really made me laugh with this post. I also do things the hard way and always melt chocolate on the stove. When I put things in the microwave they get forgotten about, which can be a problem when cooking. You cake looks good, I agree that the icing was the best part.

Mary Ann said...

That's funny that people liked it well enough, but not really a whole lot of love going around. I really wish I would have tasted this one!

Katrina said...

Another great write up by Cathy! Love your stories. So glad the eggs cooperated with you this time!

Lisa said...

I don't think there is anything wrong with the pictures. It looks so good!

jillbert said...

I'm in the "liked, but did not love" category too, but I enjoyed making this!

Kayte said...

I laughed at every single paragraph...your observations on life and people are always so on the mark...it's always fun to come by and see what's up over here. Your photos are great...it looks like it would be a hit pretty much just on that alone!

Kimberly Johnson said...

Beautiful job on the gingerbread gingerbread! It was my first time making actual gingerbread too and I really enjoyed it.

dharmagirl said...

Hi Cathy!

I love your narrative here, and hate that we missed the play-by-play, but glad the figurines survived:) I agree with you about the chocolate--I didn't frost/glaze mine for that very reason.

Megan said...

It's a good thing you got the upper hand with those eggs - we wouldn't want any more tantrum throwing egg fits in these parts!

Natashya said...

Ah yes, at 15 my youngest is still a bull in a china shop - just a lot bigger of a bull.
So happy the eggs were gentle with you this week!
I loved the ginger - I doubled it.
Your cake looks so smooth and even and perfect!

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karen said...

wow, those eggs from last week really scarred you, huh? :) and well, liking instead of loving is way better than totally hating this gingerbread.

AmyRuth said...

Cathy,
Love the word picture of your girlie wriggling into her top via her bottom he he anyway too funny LOL.
Survival of the Lladro is way more important than the TEVO'd gingerbread interview. darn! Although it would have been funnier. Great Post! Do you have a book contract ....Yet? You would have given Erma a run for her money. ha ha
You are definitely a trooper.
AmyRuth

Barbara Bakes said...

I had fun reading your post. The icing really does look yummy. I left you some awards on my blog!

Pam said...

You are so funny! I always smile when reading your posts. The pictures look great - love the frosting.

Spike said...

Yep, it seems this one had people split down the middle. I'm sure if actually had a chance to talk to the adult testers some would have loved and some would have been all 'meh. Can't please them all!

bakingwiththeboys said...

Oh, I can relate. My husband and I joke that we are finally getting close to finishing a conversation at a party. Usually, we have to put the pieces of gossip together later in the car. We really liked it so I bet your "new" relative was being genuine.

Bridgett said...

I am pretty picky about gingerbread, so if it was too "gingery" then I would have been totally turned off. I think it is hard to find a really good recipe for gingerbread, so if you know of one, I'd love to try it out! Your posts are so much fun to read.

TeaLady said...

To me it was just right. Yours look moist and delicious.

margot said...

Nice save, switching cakes. It certainly doesn't look like an afterthought dessert.

Jacque said...

LOL, your ficticious sports interview was perfect, and so funny. That's exactly how they all are.

Yep, I say leave chocolate to the chocolate cake where it belongs. And hey, your picture looks fine. (I totally understand!)

Proud Italian Cook said...

Coming here is like having a good read on a vacation! I adore your brutal honesty, but that cake looks fabulous! It really does!

 
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