It's fairly obvious that I have been an absentee blogger lately, but I do have my reasons. Or excuses at least... The holiday season was a busy for hubby & I (like it is for 99.9% of the rest of the world), but then throw into the mix the preparations for a month-long trip through Europe and wrapping up parts of one life so that a new one can begin. You see, a little over a year ago, right around the time that I began this little blog of mine, I also reached the breaking point with certain parts of my life. Mainly, it boils down to location, location, location, but also, various parts of my life that this location impacts my life. So, my darling hubby & I have been preparing to make a major change, pack up the dogs and move to Europe! As you can imagine, preparing for a change like that takes up just a teeny bit of time.... anyway, while I still remain committed to this blog o' mine, and you, my loyal readers, I've also started a second blog. Journey for a Better Life will focus on my travels through Europe and our life-changing move, and all of the joys and headaches that will inevitably be a part of the process. Here at Always Leave Room for Dessert, however, the focus will remain my passion for FOOD!
So, what have I been baking lately? Well, in all honesty, the Christmas season had me baking almost non-stop, but they were all treats you have read about before; Coconut Cake, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Nutella Biscotti, and Macarons-a-plenty. But I did return to an old favourite of mine for New Year's Day dinner with the in-laws, and that is my Gingerbread with Caramel Sauce.
This is a lovely cake to serve at the end of a meal - even a big meal. It seems like it would be a heavy dessert, but it's really not, and it is wayyyy better than the overly sweet gingerbread cake desserts you see in some restaurants. This Gingerbread is moist and tender and has a lovely real-ginger flavour. Serve it warm, with a drizzle of rich caramel sauce and a spoonful of whipped cream, and you have yourself a perfect winter dessert. It's like coziness on a plate.
Gingerbread with Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
320 g (2 1/4 Cups) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp cocoa powder
40 g candied ginger, minced
120 g unsalted butter, melted
250 ml (3/4 Cup) molasses (choose one that's not too dark or bitter)
150 g (3/4 Cup) granulated sugar
1 large egg
120ml (1/2 Cup) buttermilk
120ml (1/2 Cup) whole milk
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350˚F. Prep a bundt pan with butter and flour, or with a non-stick baking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and cocoa. Toss in the candied ginger and toss to combine
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the molasses, and mix well until combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in egg until incorporated. Gradually add buttermilk and milk until combined.
Add dry ingredients to liquid; beat on medium speed until batter is smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. being careful not overmix. Scrape batter into prepare bundt pan, and distribute the batter evenly, using an off-set spatula.
Bake until top springs back when lightly touched, 35-40 minutes.
Transfer pan to wire cooling rack and let cool 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm, with a drizzle of caramel sauce and a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream.
120 ml (1/2 Cup) water
200 g (1 Cup) granulated sugar
120 ml (1/2 Cup) heavy cream
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
15 g (1 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cold
Pour the water into a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan; add sugar to center of pot to keep granules from adhering to sides of pot. Bring to boil over high heat, covered. Uncover pot, insert candy thermometer, and continue to boil until syrup is thick and straw-colored, registering 300 degrees on candy thermometer, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; continue to cook until sugar is amber, and just barely begins to smoke - registers 350˚F on candy thermometer, about 5 minutes longer. Meanwhile, when temperature of syrup reaches 280˚F, bring cream and salt to simmer in small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat and set aside until the sugar reaches 350˚F.
Remove sugar syrup from heat. Pour about one quarter of hot cream into sugar syrup; let bubbling subside. Add remaining cream; let bubbling subside. Whisk gently until smooth; whisk in butter. Let cool until warm; serve.