spicy gingerbread bundt cake with caramelized white chocolate ganache #bundtbakers

When it comes to being a food blogger, there’s a lot of pressure to come up with “original” recipes.

spicy gingerbread bundt with caramelized white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

Thing is, there ain’t much out there that ain’t been tried before. Odds are that any flavors you’re considering combining have probably already been combined before by someone else, somewhere else.

spicy gingerbread bundt with caramelized white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

When Laura from Baking in Pyjamas chose “winter wonderland” as our #bundtbakers theme this month, my very first thought was of a deep, dark, super spicy gingerbread bundt cake. There is nothing in the world that says winter holidays to me more than the combination of warm spices and molasses.

The problem? Everybody and their uncle is posting gingerbread cake recipes right now (and have been every December since the advent of the food blog). As much as I wanted to bake some dark, dense, spicy, & chewy gingerbread for myself, I decided that I should probably try to come up with something a bit more unique.

Life is hard sometimes you guys.

 spicy gingerbread bundt with caramelized white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

After a bit more brainstorming, I remembered the caramelized white chocolate I’d read about on my friend Lindsay’s ice cream blog, If the Spoon Fits.

Now, before you start with the whole “white chocolate is gross/too sweet/boring/stupid/not chocolate” comments, hear me out. When you take the time to slowly caramelize good white chocolate in the oven with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, it transforms into something completely new and exciting and magical. The sugars in the chocolate caramelize and the cocoa butter gets richer and deeper and almost butterscotch-y. While it still has the texture of white chocolate, the flavor is much closer to a rich and creamy salted caramel.

When Lindsay first posted about it I was a bit skeptical that white chocolate could really be THAT GOOD, but I made a mental note and filed it away for a rainy day. A winter wonderland themed bundt cake seemed like the perfect rainy day opportunity to bust it out.

caramelized white chocolate | Brooklyn Homemaker

I had faith in Lindsay that the flavor would be great, but I felt like I’d want a bit more texture and interest so I decided to add some nuts. Almonds, walnuts, or pecans would have been ideal choices for flavor and crunch, but I decided that roasted chestnuts would be sooooo much more winter wonderland-y.

Oddly enough, even though my Grandfather has two giant old chestnut trees in his yard, as best I can remember I’ve never actually eaten a chestnut and had no clue what they tasted like. I called my Grandmother to ask her about it, and she confirmed that even though they’re in the yard, she’d never attempted to eat or cook with them. I remember their spiky green outer shells littering the yard when I was a kid, but I think the squirrels always made away with most of the nuts inside. Maybe that’s why they never really made it into the house.

spicy gingerbread bundt with caramelized white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

So, not knowing what to expect, I went to the store and picked up a jar of expensive fancy pants French chestnut puree, along with a pound of whole chestnuts that I wanted to try to oven roast.

Oh lord what a mess.

Did you know that roasted chestnuts can explode if you don’t score the shell in the right place?
I wish I were joking.
After oven roasting them according to Martha’s instructions, I noticed that one of my chestnuts hadn’t opened at the score line. A few minutes after it came out of the oven, I poked the unopened chestnut with a knife. I’m not really sure why I did it, but it was definitely a mistake.
There was a loud POP like the sound of a sealed soda bottle being run over by a car (Is that a sound everyone knows, or is that just because I live in Brooklyn?). Anyways, the two halves of the shell went flying across the kitchen in opposite directions, one landing on my dish rack and the other on the floor in front of the refrigerator. The chestnut meat itself practically vaporized into a fine, hot, sticky chestnut dust that sprayed all over my kitchen; sticking to the oven, the walls, the side of the fridge, the counters, cabinets, and floor. A bit later I walked past the mirror and found chestnut dust covering my beard and stuck to my cheeks and forehead. Yesterday I was in the kitchen and happened to glance up and notice there was chestnut dust all over the ceiling.

After the initial shock of the whole thing, I just stood there laughing like crazy for a good 10 minutes before I cleaned up the mess. Luckily there were a few whole chestnuts left that I could use, so I peeled one open and tasted it.

Sooooo….

Ummmm….

Can anyone tell me why people like chestnuts? I was expecting something, oh, I don’t know, nutty?
But no. This thing was bland and flavorless while also being oddly sweet, with a soft, pasty, almost bready texture rather than the satisfying nutty crunch I was anticipating.

I eventually decided that I must just be missing something because I’m not used to them, so I wanted to forge ahead. Since the roasted chestnuts wouldn’t have the crunch and texture I was hoping for, I decided to just go for flavor and mix the chestnut puree into the cake batter instead.

Ugh. You guys. There are entire songs devoted to chestnuts this time of year. I just don’t get it.

The chestnut puree made the cake rubbery, dense, slightly bitter, and strangely grey-ish.
FML.

spicy gingerbread bundt with caramelized white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

A few days later I considered baking a new caramelized white chocolate cake with some crunchier, nuttier nuts, but ultimately my first cake was such a traumatic experience from start to finish that I couldn’t bring myself to try again.

After some soul searching, (Is it weird that my life is filled with so much bundt-related soul searching?) I decided to scrap the whole thing and go back to the gingerbread cake I’d wanted to make in the first place. Who cares if a bajillion other people have already made similar cakes? As long as I enjoy it and stand behind the recipe, why not?

Since I’d already gotten more white chocolate, and really was impressed with the caramel-y flavor, I decided to go ahead and use it to make a ganache glaze for the cake.

spicy gingerbread bundt with caramelized white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

After that first cake, it felt SO DAMNED GOOD to have this one turn out so well.

Having grown up with traditional spicy German Christmas cookies like pfeffernusse and lebkucken, I like my gingerbread super dark and spicy so I use lots of molasses and plenty of spice. I even like to use a touch of ground black pepper for a bit more heat, and along with the dried ginger I like to stir some little chewy chunks of crystallized ginger into the batter right at the end.

The caramelized white chocolate ganache takes some time to make, but it adds a lovely sweet, salty, caramel-y touch that perfectly compliments the rich, deep flavors of the cake.

If you like gingerbread, especially dark, dense, spicy, chewy, old-world gingerbread; you’re going to flip for this cake. It’s unbelievable right out of the oven, but the best part is that it even improves with age so it can (and should!) be made a day or two ahead. After a few days it seems even more tender, moist, and flavorful than it did when I first sliced it for these photos.

Please be sure to scroll down past the recipe to see all the other winter wonderland themed bundts the other #bundtbakers came up with this month!

spicy gingerbread bundt with caramelized white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

Spicy Gingerbread Bundt Cake with Caramelized White Chocolate Ganache

  • Servings: 12 to 16-ish
  • Print
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons ground ginger (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 10- to 12-cup bundt-style pan.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the molasses and water and set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.

Add the flour mixture in three additions alternately with the molasses water, starting and ending with the flour. Add the chopped crystallized ginger with the last addition of flour, and mix just until smooth. Do not over-mix. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes, then turn the cake out onto the rack to cool completely. If desired, make the caramelized chocolate while the cake cools. Recipe below. 

I recommend baking this cake a day or two ahead. It improves with age! Cake can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

*note: It is totally normal and okay if this cake sinks a little bit in the center.

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Caramelized White Chocolate Ganache Glaze:
Adapted from David Lebovitz

8 oz good quality white chocolate (must have real cocoa butter)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 cup heavy cream

Optional decorations: white nonpareils, white dragees, white sixlets

Turn the oven down to 250F

If the white chocolate is in a block or bar, chop it into coarse pieces. Spread the white chocolate in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and heat for ten minutes.

Remove it from the oven, add the oil, and spread it out with a clean, dry spatula.

Continue to cook for and additional 30-60 minutes, stirring and spreading every 10 minutes. At some points it may look lumpy and chalky, but keep stirring and it will smooth out and caramelize. Once the chocolate reaches a deep golden brown, remove from the oven, scrape into a bowl or large measuring cup, and whisk in the salt and heavy cream until completely smooth and free of lumps.

Once the cake is completely cool drizzle the still slightly warm ganache over the cake and, if desired, top with optional decorations before it cools and sets.

spicy gingerbread bundt with caramelized white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

These wonderful wintery bundts are definitely putting me in the Holiday spirit this year! Thank you Laura for choosing such a perfect theme for the month of December!

BundtBakers
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#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on the BundtBakers home page.

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42 comments

  1. Oh my goodness! I laughed out loud so hard reading this! I am glad you tried it but now you know why Grandpa Loerzel needed brought a basket of chestnuts into the house for Grandma Loerzel to magically turn into food! I am still laughing. One of my favorite posts ever!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ahhh I can completely relate to this! You’re so right…sometimes it can be a bit discouraging but you know what, everyone’s recipe still comes out tasting different. It’s like those old recipes handed down by grandma but no matter how many times you make it, it still comes out tasting completely different xD so with that said, I love your creative spin on this gingerbread bundt. I never knew that white chocolate could transform into a caramel…*MIND BLOWN*. Holy cow this has rocked my world. I’m not much of chocolate snob, but I definitely have a new found respect for white chocolate now.

    Merry Christmas, Tux! Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday season & a very happy New Year.

    Toodles,
    Tammy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Tammy! Sometimes it really is better to just follow your heart, original or not. If a lot of people are making similar desserts, it’s probably because they’re so good and people like them so much!
      And this caramelized white chocolate, it really is mind blowing!!!
      Happy holidays to you too!

      Like

  3. I am glad you did the Gingerbread Bundt cake, Tux! I am always trying your recipes and they are just the BEST! So this one is going to be a our Spanish Christmas table too ;-) And yes, caramelized white chocolate tastes sooo good (I made banana-caramelized white chocolate ice cream this summer for the first time ;-) ). And as usual, stunning pictures!! Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Omigosh Omigosh am i FAMOUS?! Thank you so much for the shoutout! Wasn’t roasting the white chocolate the biggest pain in the a$$?!

    Can we talk about how you were almost injured by a chestnut? This post reminded me that this is one of those things that’s shrouded in tradition and i really have no idea why; I don’t know anyone who actually eats these! I’m pretty sure I’ve never had one before, unless it was when I was very little and buried the memory behind others that were more exciting (idk, maybe like santa, presents, peanut butter blossoms – things that are actually awesome and fun).

    These pictures are amaze-balls. The lighting is absolutely perfect, that drizzle is mouth-watering, and i LOVE the tiny little berries. it’s just the perfect touch!

    I haven’t posted in a while, and you’re inspiring me to get the ball rolling again! This time of year is just the best to be a blogger – but as you mentioned, also sort of the worst lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha! I was TOTALLY almost injured by a chestnut. And it was all for nothing, cuz chestnuts are not even worthy of roasting on an open fire.
      Fool me once, shame on… shame on you. Fool me… you can’t get fooled again.

      The things you were paying attention to at Christmas were way more worthy of your memory. Especially the peanut butter blossoms. My grandma used to make them every year and last year I made some myself for Christmas. This year, to change it up juuuust a little, I made buckeyes instead. #Newchristmastradition #moveoverchestnuts #makewayforbuckeyes

      I hope you have a great holiday, and I can’t wait to see a post from you soon!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh Tux….your story had me wavering between crying with you and laughing with you. What a great memory to share down the road while eating cake with friends. Thank for sharing it with us along with this great gingerbread recipe…..always go with your first instinct LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is one fabulously lovely bundt cake! I am a fan and have many bundt cake pans for when the mood hits me. Your efforts through thick and thin ended with quite a beauty and it looks delicious. A great holiday treat. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tux, seriously!? I had to read your chestnut experience aloud to my husband. I can’t believe that! I’ve never had a chestnut either, and wouldn’t know if the crunchless experience was what all the fuss is about.
    That caramelized white chocolate sound incredible, and would be a perfect topping for an extra spicy gingerbread.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Is it a terrible thing to say that I’m glad your first cake didn’t work? It is because I’m so happy that you made your spicy gingerbread cake. I love everything about it and especially how you decorated it. I’ve pinned it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Note that the song about chestnuts isn’t about eating them. When you roast them over an open fire, it gives off an incredibly pungent smell. Your gingerbread looks fantastic! And who knew you could caramelize white chocolate?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ok, FINALLY someone has acknowledged publicly that Chestnuts are…well…not all that great! I have wondered for years if I was the lone person on earth who didn’t think they were just spectactular. I’ve hid my dislike for them for years. But now, I can safely say I’m not the only one who finds them pasty and flavorless! I worked at Williams-Sonoma during my college years, and the other store employees would literally take home JARS of them when we got them in stock each autumn. They’d open jars and share them around the store with us (“Just pop it in your mouth! Aren’t they soooo good?!”) and after I made the mistake the first year of popping a whole one in my mouth and nearly ralphing, I would take them and make a pretend nibble and then tuck it away in my apron pocket for discreet disposal at a later time. Ha! Well, Tux, this cake has inspired me to try caramelizing white chocolate. It sounds and looks just divine. Nice work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha! I’m sure glad I shared my experience with them now because your story is hilarious and I probably wouldn’t have ever heard it if I hadn’t. I almost didn’t too, because I was ashamed too, thinking I was the only weirdo in the world who thought they were gross when everyone else was waxing poetic and writing songs!
      You should absolutely try caramelizing white chocolate some time. It’s time consuming but well worth it when you taste the end result!

      Like

  11. So, this is too funny. I saw this post and didn’t dig too deep into it. I already had a gingerbread dessert I was going to do for Christmas. However, today I happened to swing by your blog and into this article. I was skimming through and then some how where I started reading was the Chestnut Story.

    This year I had made up my mind to be more seasonal and traditional with all of my holiday meals. It started at Thanksgiving when I found a recipe for a stuffing that used Celeriac, Chestnuts, and Sourdough. It started when I thought I bought chestnuts but it was pointed out to me a week later that they were intact hazelnuts. Thankfully I tracked chestnuts down and my husband and I worked on roasting them. I had dug around online and read about them and how to roast them so thankfully I knew about the chance of explosions… he he he We successfully roasted them and peeled them and I made my stuffing. Unfortunately they stuffing had problems that had nothing to do with the chestnuts. It was just a giant soggy mess. I ended up scooping it into rings and cooking it for a much longer time and in the end the flavor was good but the recipe needs some work.

    Then it was heading into Christmas and I like you felt the nostalgia of chestnuts being a key flavor that needs to be a part of it. So I made a soup that was Sunchoke and Chestnut puree as well as a totally different stuffing for my goose that had chestnuts as well as 13 other ingredients in it! The stuffing came out amazing but the soup wanted the chestnuts chopped and toasted in a pan and sprinkled on top. Well the additional cooking in the pan turned them into pea-gravel which was not pleasant. LOL

    I like you wasn’t sure want to make of the flavor. To me it seemed like someone made a nut out of marzipan and I can’t stand that stuff but that’s a different story… I too forged on and was happy I did. As a savory I think it can work quite well. I haven’t yet tried them as a dessert but that’s y next attempt. I found a recipe for Chestnut Cake with Raspberries. In it the recipe calls for just a little chestnut flour and then you use the chestnut puree in the buttercream icing. I am going to give it a try and I’ll report back when I do.

    I find some of my best memories in the kitchen are stories like your chestnut one. You made me laugh and you have such a gift of telling your story. Don’t let the chestnut get you down… I will say for my next chestnut recipe I bought pre peeled chestnuts to hopefully avoid some of the headache involved in roasting them! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gosh I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you on this. Things have been so… crazy… in the world lately that I’ve had to take a little time off from blogging for a mental health break. But I’m back and I’m ready to go!

      Anyway! I’m glad I’m not the only one to have strange experiences with chestnuts! Coming home with hazelnuts instead of chestnuts is totally something I’d do, and I really came thiiiiiis close to making a celeraic and chestnut stuffing for thanksgiving! Too funny! When you perfect the recipe you’ll have to send it my way!!!

      Chestnut soup sounds great too, but I can totally see the pea gravel thing. They have such a strange texture and can totally see why they wouldn’t hold up to all that handling. You’re absolutely spot on with the marzipan comparison too, and even though I come from proud marzipan-loving German stock (my grandpa pronounces it motsy-pahn) I HATE marzipan!

      I can see how chestnuts could be better in savory recipes, but I have read some really tasty sounding cake recipes that call for chestnut flour and I still want to give them a shot. I’m obsessed with the idea of finding the good in a bad ingredient! hahaha!

      Here’s to… memorable experiences in the kitchen!

      Thanks for the comment and I hope to hear from you again soon!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey there, no worries about the turn around on the response time. Like you said “things” have been a bit crazy! ;)

        So I have a stuffing that I am IN LOVE with that uses chestnuts: https://aronofskycreations.com/2016/12/26/a-stuffing-i-can-truly-say-i-love/

        Oh! and I also made a DELICIOUS Chestnut cake: https://aronofskycreations.com/2017/01/13/chestnut-layer-cake-with-lingonberries/

        I think you’ll like both!

        Glad to see your’e blogging again :D

        Liked by 1 person

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