When I first got a look at this recipe, I was a little concerned. Okay, a lot concerned. Among the cooking instructions were statements like: "Don't be concerned if the cake has domed and cracked - it will settle down as it cools" and "The edges of the cake might be quite brown, but don't fret - you can trim them after you ice the cake". I have to say that this is the first cake I've ever made where the author tells you up front that it's going to fall and burn. Always a good sign.
Luckily, my worrying was unnecessary. Although the cake did fall and get a little brown around the edges, it was otherwise pretty delicious. The spice and chocolate were perfect for each other. As in, fated lovers perfect. And I didn't even bother with the icing.
Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread
From Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup (1 stick) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
½ cup molasses (not blackstrap)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate - 2 ounces melted and cooled, 4 ounces finely chopped
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon finely chopped stem ginger in syrup (available in Asian markets and supermarkets; optional)
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon strong coffee
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan and put it on a baking sheet. (Pan must be a full 9-inch square size or batter will overflow - measure first).
Put the fresh ginger and sugar in a small bowl, stir and set aside. Whisk the flour, baking soda and spices together.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment,or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar and butter together at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Don't worry if the mixture looks curdled at this stage. Pour in the molasses and beat until smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the melted chocolate, along with the sugared ginger. Still on low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 additions (begin and end with the dry ingredients),mixing the batter only as much as needed to blend the ingredients. Fold in the chopped chocolate and the ginger in syrup. Pour the batter into the pan.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Don't be concerned if the cake has domed and cracked-it will settle down as it cools. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes, then unmold the cake. Turn right side up to cool to room temperature before icing the cake. (The edges of the cake might be quite brown, but don't fret-you can trim them after you ice the cake.)
Set a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, put the chocolate and coffee in the bowl, and stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted. Remove the bowl and, using a small whisk, stir in the butter one tablespoon at a time. Sift the powdered sugar over the chocolate and stir in. Transfer the bowl to a counter and let the icing sit for about 10 minutes.
Put the gingerbread, still on the rack, on a piece of wax paper or foil (the drip catcher). Pour the icing onto the center of the cake and use a long metal spatula to spread the icing evenly over the top. Allow the icing to set for 30 minutes (you can hurry it along by chilling the cake briefly). If the edges of the cake are overbaked, now is the time to trim them. Then cut the gingerbread into 9 even pieces.