One of my favorite dessert recipes is Martha Stewart’s chocolate gingerbread cake.
The original recipe was published in Martha’s magazine Everyday Food, but I found it by way of the fabulous design blog design*sponge. While I mostly stuck to the original — because it’s good — I did make a few alterations, replacing the light brown sugar with dark brown in order to boost the molasses taste, and doubling the amount of chocolate (always a way to improve things, no?).
I brought over the molasses during a recent trip to the United States. It turns out that dark, viscous liquids drive the baggage scanners crazy (molasses and maple syrup, anyone?). You can buy molasses locally, however, for a nice premium at stores including Nitzat Hadovdevan, Eden Teva Market and East West, as well as at baking stores.
Unlike design*sponge, we actually liked the cake better a day or so after it had been baked, once it had time to set and become denser, as opposed to hot and fluffy out of the oven.
Also, one thing the original recipe didn’t mention is that you need to cover the cake with tin foil 10 minutes into the baking process in order to keep the top and all that yummy chocolate from burning. Or maybe it’s just my oven.
For one 20-by-20 centimeter (8 by 8 inches) Martha Stewart gingerbread cake, recipe via design*sponge:
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup molasses
120 grams (4 ounces) good-quality dark chocolate
Heat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius (325 Fahrenheit).
Mix together the dry ingredients, except for the chocolate. The original calls for sifting the dry ingredients for an airier cake, but I like my cake dense and chewy and don’t bother. Melt the butter — microwaving for 30 seconds works — and add to the dry ingredients, along with the water, molasses and egg.
Melt the chocolate — again, 30 seconds in the microwave, or even a bit more, but be careful not to burn it.
Grease your baking pan — the butter wrapper is good for this. Pour in half the batter, and then top it with half the melted chocolate. Spread the other half of the batter on top, and then drizzle with the remaining melted chocolate. Drag a knife or toothpick through the chocolate/batter to create decorative swirls.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cake is set — a toothpick inserted into the cake should come out dry, the standard measure for knowing when a cake is done.