Posted by Grace Massa Langlois on Friday, 23rd November 2012
I hope all of our American friends enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. Christmas is on the way and I’ve been busy thinking of dessert ideas for the holidays. Liana is kicking off the season getting together with a few friends over the weekend. She enjoys gingerbread so much I thought I would prepare a Chocolate-Gingerbread Cake topping it with a creamy Mascarpone Frosting.
I usually like to prepare a layer cake for this type of gathering but Liana was quick to point out that it was only a few girls getting together to share some holiday cheer. The smaller cakes worked out perfect not only was I able to tuck one cake away to enjoy at a later date but I had enough batter to prepare some cupcakes for Matt and the boys.
The house is much quieter these days because most of the kid’s friends have gone away to university. Up to this point I’ve been very fortunate (thank my lucky stars every day) because Liana decided to begin her studies at the local university and for now, it appears Matt will too.
Unfortunately, I know there will come a time when it will be necessary for them to go away to complete their studies. But for now, although a little selfish on my part, I’m thankful to have them home.
It’s been quite the adjustment for me in the last couple of years because our home tends to be the meeting hub for all the kids and now that most of them have gone away it’s unbearably quiet. I miss all the hustle and bustle, comings and goings, loud music, late night requests for food, and even the parties (go figure).
It’s what I’m used to, when you grow up in a large family there’s very rarely a dull moment, there’s always something going on, which suits me just fine! A couple of Matt’s close friends are home for the weekend and although it’s only for a short time, it’s nice to have the house back to normal.
The holiday season is all about sharing time with friends and loved ones and I try to have sweet treats like this gingerbread cake on hand over the holiday season for impromptu visits. This type of cake stores well in the freezer and because it’s smaller it quickly defrosts.
Single layer cakes are easy to transport making them the perfect treat to share at office parties. They also make great gifts, package them up in a pretty box with festive bow. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t appreciate a homemade cake especially over the holiday season.
This gingerbread cake is extremely moist, spicy (generous amount of ginger with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves) with the chocolate bringing a special richness. And the mascarpone frosting topping the cake brings another layer of silky richness making this festive cake perfect for the holidays.
Chocolate-Gingerbread Cake with Mascarpone Frosting
Makes two 18 x 5-cm (7 x 2-inch) cakes or two 15 x 5-cm (6 x 2-inch) cakes plus 6 standard cupcakes
I made smaller cakes this time because Liana was getting together with a couple of girlfriends and she wanted to bring a sweet treat. The smaller cake was the perfect size, allowing me to freeze one for a later date. There was enough batter to make one half-dozen cupcakes, which just happened to be the perfect amount for Matt and the boys.
- Chocolate-Gingerbread Cake
- Mascarpone Frosting
- 180 ml (¾ cup) molasses
- 180 ml (¾ cup) Chocolate Stout Beer (or Guinness)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Unsalted butter, for greasing pans
- Cocoa, for dusting pans
- 219 g (1¾ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1½ tablespoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces good quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 169 g (¾ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 150 g (¾ cup) yellow golden sugar (light brown sugar)
- 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 150 ml (½ cup + 2 tablespoons) vegetable oil
- In small saucepan, bring molasses and beer just to the boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and gradually add the baking soda while whisking constantly (mixture will bubble up). Let stand allowing mixture to come to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, using pastry brush, grease two 18-cm (7-inch) cake pans with softened butter. Line the base of the pans with non-stick baking paper. Lightly grease paper, dust with cocoa. Tap out excess cocoa. Preheat oven to 180° C (350° F).
- Using fine mesh sieve, sift flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt into a medium bowl, whisk together to well combine.
- Melt chocolate in heatproof bowl set over a small saucepan of just simmering water over low heat. Remove from heat and set-aside allowing the chocolate to cool slightly.
- In bowl of stand mixer fitted with whip attachment, beat together caster and brown sugar, and whole eggs and egg yolk at medium speed until pale in colour, about 5 minutes.
- Gradually add the oil, beating until just combined.
- Add the melted chocolate and beat to just combine.
- Reduce mixer speed to low, gradually add the molasses mixture, beating to just combine. Remove bowl from mixer, using flexible rubber spatula, scrape sides, and bottom of bowl. Reattach bowl to mixer and beat, 15 seconds.
- Gradually add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until almost combined (well mixed in the centre but flour remaining around the edges of the bowl – it’s important to not over mix the batter).
- Remove bowl from mixer. Using large flexible spatula, scrape sides, and bottom of bowl. Fold the mixture a few times with the spatula to combine the remainder of the flour.
- Strain cake batter through medium-mesh sieve into a large-capacity liquid measuring cup (to catch any lumps of flour mixture).
- Evenly divide the mixture between prepared baking pans.
- Bake until a cake tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 40 minutes.
- Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans, about 20 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges of the pan, and then invert cakes onto wire rack. Let stand until cakes are completely cooled. If not serving both cakes, store one well wrapped in plastic in the freezer.
Frosting can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. When ready to use, transfer cold frosting to bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.
- 170 g (¾ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 188 g (1½ cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 340 g (1½ cups) mascarpone cheese, softened
- 113 g (½ cup) cream cheese, softened
- Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
- 1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest, finely grated, optional
- In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and confectioners’ sugar at medium speed until smooth.
- Add the mascarpone and cream cheese and beat until combined well, about 3 minutes.
- Add the vanilla seeds and if using, citrus zest, and beat until seeds are evenly distributed.
To Decorate Cake
- Decorative sprinkles, optional
If you prefer, you can layer the cakes.
- Transfer each completely cooled cake, topside down, to cake stand or plate. Transfer frosting to large pastry big fitted with Wilton 1M tip. Push the frosting down to the tip with plastic bowl scraper. Twist the bag and squeeze a bit of frosting back into the bowl to release any air bubbles.
- Working with one cake at-a-time, starting in the centre of the cake, holding the bag at a 90° angle, pipe tight spiral over the surface of the cake.
- Using small offset spatula, smooth the surface of the frosting leaving the decorative swirl around the edges of the cake intact.
- If using, decorate with sprinkles.
- Buon Appetito!
Tags: after school treat, afternoon tea, cake, cakes, chocolate, chocolate cake, chocolate dessert, cream cheese, dessert, desserts, desserts for entertaining, entertaining, food, food photography, food photos, frosting, gourmet cupcakes, individual dessert, individual desserts, mini cakes, small cakes
Posted in Baking & Pastry, Baking Mise en Place, Basics, Cakes & Cheesecakes, Fillings, Frostings & Dessert Sauces, Piccola Pasticceria, Recipes, Ricette di Base, Torte