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Thursday, December 23,2010

Gingerbread Cake with Crystallized Ginger Glaze

By Danette Randall

 

 

How can any holiday baking marathon be complete without everyone’s favorites, gingerbread men?

 

I guess it’s gingerbread man, unless you eat more than one. Then it’s men? Good thing I waste time thinking about these things. Being alone all day in the kitchen will do that to a girl.

Well, I just always feel so darn guilty about biting the little guy’s head off (not my husband’s, the gingerbread man’s) that I am going a different way with the gingerbread. How about a Gingerbread Cake with Crystallized Ginger Glaze? That’s a whole lotta ginger going on, but, oh, so festive and tasty. The wafting scents of the ginger alone will have you singing “Frosty the Snowman” morning, noon and night, and one bite of this moist and flavorful cake will turn you into a tapdancing Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” in no time flat.

This cake can serve as your dessert, your snack, you can pair it up with tea and hot chocolate, or, of course, with coffee and a little bit of Bailey’s. I believe that’s the route I will be taking. Ginger is also good for you, so really this dessert can do double-duty as your gift to a friend or loved one’s well-being. It can’t be any worse than a star being named after you when you thought you were getting an iPhone. Thanks, honey. Oh wait, perhaps I did bite his head off, along with the gingerbread man’s. Thank goodness for the cake this year.

The sweet and rich scent of molasses also fills the air, and gives this treat such a nice, deep color, along with complementing the ginger and bringing out all its best qualities. That molasses, it’s so wellbehaved.

All and all, this dessert will not only taste great, but give you that comfortable cozy feeling of home, even if that’s not where you are. Make someone feel special and whip this cake up for them — you will feel all warm and tingly inside. Of course, that might be the crystallized ginger digesting, but whatever the reason, warm and tingly is always a good thing.

Now, follow the directions, put some love into it, and invite me over when it’s done.

Gingerbread Cake with Crystallized Ginger Glaze

2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 1/2 cup brown sugar 2 eggs 1/2 cup light or dark molasses (I used light) 1 cup milk Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease a 9 x 9 square baking pan. Sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger cloves in small bowl. Set aside.

In large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Slowly beat in molasses. Mix in dry ingredients and milk alternately, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Pour into prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Take out and place on cooling rack for 15-20 minutes. Flip out onto serving platter and let cool completely. When cooled, pour glaze over top and let set. Garnish with a little extra ginger. Enjoy and happy holidays!

Crystallized Ginger Glaze

1/4 cup melted butter 2 cups powdered sugar 2 tbsp. milk (might need a tad more, build slowly until desired consistency) 2 tbsp. chopped, crystallized ginger (plus a few extra for garnish)

Beat all ingredients except ginger until smooth. Fold in ginger.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Stuff each date with about 1/2 tsp. of chorizo. Wrap each with 1/2 strip of bacon. Arrange dates on a baking pan; bake until bacon is crispy, about 22 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat; add paprika. Cook just until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add peppers and tomato sauce; cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add to a food processor or blender; pulse until almost smooth. Keep warm. Remove dates from oven; dab with paper towels. Pour the warm sauce on a platter. Top with dates.

Polenta cakes with tomato jam and goat cheese

Prep: 40 minutes Cook: 20 minutes Makes: About 80 cakes, 20 servings You can make these a day ahead, including frying. When ready to serve, top with tomato sauce and goat cheese and heat in the oven.

5 cups water 1 pint (2 cups) whipping cream 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 2 cups instant polenta 2 tbsp. plus 1/4 tsp. coarse salt 1 12-oz. can diced tomatoes in sauce 1 tsp. tomato paste 1/4 tsp. sugar 1 tbsp. olive oil 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled Heat water and cream to a simmer in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in Parmesan and 2 tbsp. salt. Whisk in polenta in a steady stream, until thick and smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a greased 17-by-12-inch baking pan. Cover with parchment paper; refrigerate until firm, about six hours.

Heat diced tomatoes in sauce to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Add tomato paste; cook 5 minutes. Add sugar and 1/4 tsp. salt. Transfer to a food processor or blender; pulse until slightly chunky. Keep warm.

Cut 1 1/2-inch shapes out of the polenta. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet; add polenta shapes in batches. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 16 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Dab with more paper towels. Place polenta on serving platter; top each with a little of the tomato jam and goat cheese. Serve warm.


(c) 2010, Chicago Tribune. —MCT

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