Chocolate Gingerbread

January 31, 2011

My decision-making capabilities are close to non-existent and I have trouble following directions. You can imagine what kind of life-anarchy comes from such charming personality traits, but what does this mean in terms of baking? Love children!

It started with my craving gingerbread and chocolate. Dorie Greenspan has a recipe for chocolate gingerbread, which I plan to try some day, and there are a thousand and five other recipes floating around the internets, but the idea of creating a gingerbread love child made me giddy. I took my tried and true gingerbread recipe from All Cakes Considered and mated it with Dorie Greenspan’s chocolate gingerbread.

I didn’t grease the pan well enough, so the gingerbread itself wasn’t, ahem, the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen, but it definitely hit the spot and was well received.

On an admittedly strange note, I spent a little time just playing around with the baked good love child idea and pictured baby bundt pans springing forth from regular bundt pans, like Athena coming out of Zeus’s head, and then couldn’t help but see them wandering around my pantry asking all the other pans “Are you my mother?” So darn cute.

Chocolate Gingerbread

(A gingerbread love child between the chocolate gingerbread in Baking, from my Home to Yours and the plain Jane gingerbread in All Cakes Considered)

Yields one 8 inch square cake, 9 inch round cake, or one awfully adorable heart cake.

Ingredients:

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar

1 egg

½ cup molasses (only use blackstrap if you’re “strapped” in and ready for a really intense gingerbread cake. Don’t mind the suppressed giggling.)

3 oz melted chocolate, semi-sweet or dark

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup boiling water (boil some water, then measure out ½ cup)

5 to 6 oz, ¾ to 1 cup, chopped chocolate, or chocolate chips

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare your pan by lightly greasing and flouring.

2. Cream the butter on medium speed (if you are using a stand mixer) and gradually add the granulated sugar. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl between additions to make sure all ingredients are included in the fun.

3. Add the egg, and continue to beat on medium speed until incorporated.

4. Add the molasses, and then the melted chocolate, beating on medium speed until batter is homogenous.

5. Whisk the dry ingredients together until all are evenly distributed. Ready your half-cup of boiling water.

6. Add half of the dry ingredient mixture and beat on medium speed until you don’t see any more flour. Add the boiling water, and, starting on a lower speed, then increasing to medium, beat the water into the batter. Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat until batter is uniform.

7. Fold in the chocolate chips or chunks.

8. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan, and use a spatula to even the batter out.

9. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, or with just a few crumb stragglers (depending on how “done” you like your gingerbread).

10. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Store cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, or freeze it for up to a month!

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Girl has got to make some money, so I work in a toy store. In general, I love my job. My co-workers and I play around, dance, and talk to people all day long. But as you can imagine, December is a tough month for toy stores, tough in the sense that the employees are physically and mentally drained, putting in more time and effort than any other month of the year. I’m really fortunate to work with fantastic people, which makes for a wonderful, supportive, and fun environment even when the going gets rough. Most of my co-workers are now my close friends, and those that aren’t close, I still consider my friends. Before I wax poetic enough to make you gag, here’s the point: I’m baking up a storm before Christmas to make sure everyone around me knows how much I appreciate their hard work, and their showing up to begin with, because even that’s hard on some days.

Last week, I posted a note in our office, asking everyone to write down something about baked goods they enjoy, be it an ingredient, a type of treat, or even something in particular if they were craving a certain dessert. There are eight of us, total, and I have until December 20th to bake for each and every one of them. Yay!

So, first up! This is what I had to go on,

“vegan things! pie > cake”

What I came up with was vegan gingerbread apple pie, from Vegan with a Vengeance. Isa is my go-to girl, what can I tell you. I got up super early on Saturday to peel, core, and slice apples, so that the pie would be fresh out of the oven when I brought it to work. It was worth every minute of sleep that I didn’t get. Honest to goodness.

Another great part about waking up early to bring a fresh pie to work was that I could hold the warm pie tin on my walk. Take that, freezing Boston wind!

Gingerbread Apple Pie

(Adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance)

I baked this in a 9 inch pie tin.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the crust:

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup packed brown sugar (I used light brown)

1 –  1 ½  teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ cup margarine, softened

1 tablespoon molasses (or two, if you’re me)

2 tablespoons cold water

Method:

1. Sift together the flour, sugar, spices, salt, and baking powder, into a bowl large enough for all the dry ingredients.

2. Add the margarine one tablespoon at a time, cutting it into the dry mixture. You can use a pastry cutter, two knives, or your fingers.

3. Drizzle both the molasses and water over the dough, now mixing with your fingers until the dough begins to come together.

4. Knead the dough into a ball, then press it evenly into the bottom and sides of a prepared pie tin. (My dough was a little sticky, and it was difficult to work with because I mixed it too thoroughly with my fingers, which made the dough too warm. Keep mixing to the barest minimum possible, as with most pie crust recipes.)

5. Bake crust, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

For the Filling:

Ingredients:

2 lbs, or about 8 peeled, cored, and thinly sliced granny smith apples,

½ cup brown sugar (Again, I used light brown.)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

½ teaspoon ground ginger

a pinch of ground cloves

¼ cup maple syrup (I used agave syrup, not being a huge fan of maple syrup)

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 tablespoons arrowroot (or tapioca starch)

Method:

1. While the crust is baking, combine all ingredients, except the arrowroot, and stir to combine.

2. Sprinkle the arrowroot powder over mixture.

3. Mix the apples until all the arrowroot is absorbed into the other ingredients.

To assemble and bake the pie:

1. Fill the pie crust with the apple mixture and cover with tin foil.

2. Bake for 20 minutes, covered.

3. Remove the foil and bake for 30 minutes more.

You’ll know the pie is done when it is bubbling. Or when you notice your entire apartment smells like gingerbread and apple pie. If only you could attach that smell to your person, and carry with you all day, without being kind of a creeper and always carrying a piece of warm pie in your coat pocket.

My unusually clean kitchen, accented with a stained cat potholder and FANTASTIC PIE.