Sunday, 30 November 2008

Chocolate spice gingerbread - or, my ongoing obsession with the word treacle

I really seem to be unable to resist the idea of ginger and treacle in baked goods at the moment. I think I've said before that gingerbread didn't particularly play a part in our childhood traditions - we liked a bit of Jamaican ginger cake all right, but we didn't have it often. So I really can't explain where this yearning comes from - but if it gives me an excuse to say 'treacle' more often then I'm not going to try to fight it. This particular cake won me over by combining treacle and ginger with chocolate - and fairtrade Green and Black's chocolate at that. The recipe was from a Green and Black's book I bought second-hand after flicking through it in a shop and lusting after all the photos (it was the picture of the pear and chocolate spread which particularly won me over though I haven't made that yet). I came back to this recipe as I wanted to take a cake to the Ecos for dinner on Friday night (thank you for a lovely evening, and especially that amazing Moroccan soup, which, I have just realised, I dreamt about last night!). Eco Sis likes gingerbread too, and this one was advertised as being 'wonderfully moist'. The moistness must particularly come from adding chopped prunes, I think. I wonder if chestnut puree might have a similar effect though it might change the flavour of the cake. It also has buttermilk in it, and since I rarely buy buttermilk I used milk with added vinegar which seemed to work fine (please note that this is an accepted way to make buttermilk, Eco Sis - I didn't just randomly take liberties with your cake!).

Yummy cake; poor lighting :(

I will make this cake again. It contains fair trade orangey chocolate, it contains treacle and ginger, it contains prunes (which I love), it is dense and moist and dark brown in colour, it wrapped and travelled well, it got a rapturous response from Eco Sis: what's not to like? Interestingly, Eco Sis didn't pick up on the ginger immediately but it was because she was intrigued to guess what the moist little flecks she could see were (the prunes). Once I told her what it was she said she could definitely taste both ginger and chocolate. It was harder for me to assess fairly since I knew what was in it but I thought the combination of ginger and chocolate worked really well, especially with the added richness of the prunes.

Clearly not chocolate ginger cake, but so cute as to be almost edible, and sort of chocolatey coloured. She's wedged herself in a very small space between me and The Scientist on the sofa, and is lying on one of our legs each!

Although this wasn't previously a family favourite this cake went down so well with the Ecos that I am sending to Not Quite Nigella for her Ultimate Chocolate Cake Challenge.

Chocolate Spice Gingerbread (from the Green and Black's Chocolate Recipes cookbook)
125 g unsalted butter
50g Maya Gold or other good-quality dark orange chocolate, broken into pieces
50g dark chocolate, minimum 60% cocoa solids, broken into pieces
75g dark muscovado sugar
4 tbsp treacle
150ml buttermilk
125g ready-to-eat prunes
175g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 level tsp ground ginger
1 level tsp cinnamon
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3. Line an 18cm square cake tin (I used a standard loaf pan) with greaseproof paper or baking parchment

Cut the butter into cubes and place in a heavy saucepan along with the chocolate, sugar, treacle and buttermilk. Heat gently until the ingredients have melted, then set aside to cool.

Snip the prunes into small pieces with the kitchen scissors. Sift the flour into a large bowl along with the bicarb of soda and spices. Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl and beat thoroughly with a wooden spoon, then add the beaten egg and beat again. Fold in the prunes.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level off the surface using a palette knife. Bake for about 50 mins. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for about 10 mins. Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Wrap in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight container.

The cake will keep for a week in an airtight container. It is best eaten the day after it is made.


Ricki said...

Sounds delicious--what an interesting combination of flavors! I would give this a go for sure, but I've been unable to find treacle over here. Would a sweet molasses do?

Johanna said...

this is a cake I have tried only once but I found it was neither as chocolatey or as moise as I had hoped - however it did have wonderful flavours and I have wondered if it would have improved with sitting a few days (but it is hard to be that patient!). I have the green and black's cookbook and it is full of decadent temptations - hope to see you cook more from it to inspire me to use it a bit more

Lysy said...

Sorry to hear it wasn't as good as you'd hoped, Johanna. Perhaps the time in the oven made a difference - mine was in for the shorter end of the cooking time. As to whether the flavours improved: over to you, Eco Sis!

Ricki - I would definitely recommend it! I've read that treacle and molasses are very similar - let me know if you try it

Eco Sis said...

yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum. Johanna, it was so moist! i think it got a bit drier in storage actually but it wasn't in a quite air tight container i'm afraid...

must go to bed!