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Canal House's chocolate gingerbread cake recipe is a mash-up that makes sense

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What comes to mind when people hear the word "mash-up" these days? Well, before it came to have any meaning in the context of food, it simply brought back memories of '80s music being rudely and abruptly interrupted by heavy metal, followed by something randomly selected from top 40, a bit of rap, over to hip hop, and then who knew what. In terms of food, the same principle applies: Take two or more things that don't belong together, and mash. Hence the Cronut, the ramen burger, and the turkey-stuffed donut. Bad food rooted in crude ideas.

Still, there is a way to do it right.

Food trends come and go, but classics are here to stay. So it was no surprise that when Christopher Hirsheimer, one of the founders of Saveur magazine, and Melissa Hamilton, who was the food editor there and ran the test kitchen, set out to create a mash-up of their own, they started with two classics meant to be married into one dessert — chocolate cake and gingerbread. The result is elegant and fit for serving a crowd.

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Ingredients

For the gingerbread:

  • ½ c unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the cake pan
  • 2 ½ c all-purpose flour, plus more for the cake pan
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 T ground ginger
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground allspice
  • 1 t dry mustard
  • ½ t ground black pepper
  • 2 t baking soda
  • ¼ c dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c molasses
  • 8 oz chocolate chips, melted
  • 1 c brewed espresso or strong coffee, cooled

For the chocolate icing:

  • 8 oz chocolate chips
  • ½ c heavy cream

Directions

For the gingerbread:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Grease a 9-inch springform cake pan, then dust with flour, tapping out any excess.

3. In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, mustard, pepper, and baking soda and set aside.

4. Using a stand mixer, cream the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar, and continue to mix on medium-high speed.

5. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing between each addition.

6. Add the molasses and melted chocolate, mixing well to incorporate.

7. Then, alternate adding the espresso and the flour mixture until everything has been incorporated.

8. Pour the batter into the cake pan, and bake for 40 minutes.

For the icing:

1. Meanwhile, in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the chocolate together with the cream over very low heat. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

To finish:

1. Remove the cake from the oven, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

2. Unmold the cake from the pan, invert it onto a wide platter, and spread the icing across the top, letting the chocolate drip down the sides. Cut into pieces and serve.

Serves: 12

Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

From PANNA, Issue 8. Copyright (c) 2013 by How 2 Media, LLC.

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