5 weeks ago
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
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!
Posted by Cathy at 12:01 AM