It’s pretty comical to come to Bellingham, Washington for Christmas. Comical because, for this Boca Ratonian Jew, it’s like stepping out of a noisy deli into a Christmas card. I’m writing this right now in a coffee shop with a Yule log burning on the fire and several people sitting around me who look like Santa Claus. Last night, when Craig and I stepped out of the car after driving up here from Seattle, a crowd of people stood around a bonfire singing Christmas carols. He’s not even dead but I’m pretty sure the rabbi who oversaw my Bar Mitzvah is rolling around in his grave.
Even before I came here, though, I was getting into the Christmas spirit. I made this Christmas playlist (which I linked to on my Not Food blog) and, right before I left, I made this Chocolate Gingerbread Cake from the new Canal House Cookbook.
It’s a perfect cake to make this week. It provides all the comfort of a good, rich chocolate cake but it’s infused with molasses and all of those Christmasy spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and–the most surprising one–mustard powder*.)
(*: Yes, I know mustard powder sounds weird in a cake, but it gives everything a little edge. And you’d never know it was in there if I didn’t tell you.)
Not sure how much I’ll be able to update my blog this week–lots of gift wrapping and last minute shopping to be done–so consider this post my holiday gift to you. And if you see my rabbi wandering the streets grief-stricken, offer him a slice. He’d be a meshuggahna to say no.
Chocolate Gingerbread Cake
from The Canal House Cookbook
For the gingerbread:
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teapoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup molasses or sorghum
8 ounces chocolate chips, melted
1 cup espresso or strong coffee, cooled
For the chocolate icing:
8 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
For the gingerbread, preheat the oven to 375. Grease a 9-inch springform cake pan, then dust it with flour, tapping out any excess.
Sift or whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, mustard, and pepper together in a large bowl then set aside.
Put the butter into a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the brown sugar, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the molasses and the chocolate until smooth.
Add the dry ingredients and the espresso alternately while you continue to beat the mixture. Use a rubber spatula to help incorporate any batter on the bottom or sides of the bowl. Pour into the prepared cake pan…
…and bake until the top springs back when you lightly press it in the middle, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.
For the chocolate icing, while the cake cools, heat the chocolate and the cream together in a small heavy pot over low heat. Stir with a whisk as it melts.
Transfer the cooled gingerbread onto a plate. Arrange strips of waxed paper under the edges of the cake to keep the plate clean. Smooth the icing on top of the gingerbread, allowing it to drip over the sides.
Remove the paper and cut yourself a big fat slice. Happy holidays!