When I have friends visit during the holidays, I like to make a dessert for us to eat while we're visiting (even if I'm not making an entire meal). The Guinness Cake is usually called into service here, but when I want to mix it up (and be seasonal), I make Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Gingerbread.
This seems like a no-brainer, putting chocolate and gingerbread together, right? But this was the first recipe I'd ever seen for it, and it was definitely love at first bite. It's very simple to make (it's baked like a cake, in a 9X13" pan), keeps forever if properly stored (I just finished the batch I made Thanksgiving weekend), and isn't ridiculously sweet. The chocolate chips are a lovely surprise, because people aren't expecting them, but they add an extra little burst of chocolate flavor. People always ask me for this recipe once they've had a taste.
What's your favorite Holiday Treat to Bake? (Or eat!)
from Nigella Lawson's Feast
For the cake:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 c. + 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. sugar
3/4 c. golden syrup (Lyle's is a brand you can find at most stores now), or light corn syrup
3/4 c. molasses
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. warm water
1 c. milk
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
For the frosting:
2 c. confectioner's (powdered) sugar
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
1/4 c. ginger ale (NOT DIET)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and tear off a big piece of parchment paper to line the bottom and sides of a 9x13" pan. (This is why that one piece in the photo has sort of a wonky edge--it's the way the batter set up with the parchment paper.)
In a decent-sized saucepan (I always use my big dutch oven because I know it can hold everything), melt the butter along wit the sugars, golden syrup, molasses, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. In a cup, dissolve the baking soda in the water. Take the saucepan off the heat and beat in the eggs, milk, and soda in its water. Stir in the flour and cocoa and beat with a wooden spoon to mix. Fold in the chocolate chips, pour into the lined pan and bake for about 45 minutes until risen and firm. It will be slightly damp underneath the set top. That's how you want it. (An inserted tooth pick will also come out clean.)
Remove to a wire rack and let cool in the pan. Once cool, make frosting.
Sift the powdered sugar. In a heavy-based saucepan, heat the butter, cocoa, and ginger ale. Once the butter's melted, whisk in powdered sugar. Pour frosting over the top of the gingerbread. Once set, lift from the pan and discard the paper. (If you do this first--before frosting--the frosting. gets. everywhere. Trust me on this.) Cut into pieces.