spicy

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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chunky beef and bean chili

Ugh this weather.

chunky beef and bean chili | Brooklyn Homemaker

Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. Sunshine. Snowfall. Short sleeves. Heavy coats.

I know that I’ve whined about New York’s weird weather before, last week in fact, but oh lord is it annoying. I’ve lived in New York State for my entire existence so I suppose I should be used to it by now, but I’m not okay?
Every spring I get the itch to get outdoors and when that shady bitch Mother Nature dangles 70 degree temperatures in front of my face and a few days later tosses a little snow storm my way I start to get cranky.

chunky beef and bean chili | Brooklyn Homemaker

After last week’s unusual heatwave, we had snow over the weekend.

My first instinct was to stand in the window shaking my first (There may have also been a few “why I oughta”s thrown in), but I got tired (and cold) after a while so I decided to take my pity party into the kitchen and see what I could do to make myself feel better.

chunky beef and bean chili | Brooklyn Homemaker

Full disclosure:
I’ve posted this recipe, or at least a version of it, before.

This is one of my absolute favorite cold weather recipes and I’ve made it countless times since I first posted it. Since then I’ve made some changes to streamline some steps and make a few little improvements.

chunky beef and bean chili | Brooklyn Homemaker

Another moment of full disclosure:
I like my chili with big chunks of meat, a bit like a stew, rather than ground beef.
I also like lots of beans in my chili.

I realize my Texas friends are probably rolling their eyes and/or recoiling in horror right about now, but I’m a Northeasterner through and through. This is not “Texas Chili” and I make no qualms about this being an “authentic” recipe.

This is just how I like it. It’s freaking delicious. So deal with it.

chunky beef and bean chili | Brooklyn Homemaker

There’s a very good reason that I wanted to try this chili again and re-post the recipe for you. A while back I read an article on thekitchn that said a great way to ensure tender slow cooked meat in stew is to wait a bit before adding acidic ingredients like wine or tomatoes. While acidic ingredients can help tenderize meats in marinades, they can have the opposite effect and actually prevent or prolong tenderizing in braised dishes. Instead, they suggest that you make your stew (or chili in this case) without the acid, let the meat loosen up and get a head start on tenderization, and then add your acidic ingredients and continue to cook just long enough that they no longer taste “raw”.

I said before that I’ve made this recipe countless times with countless variations, but as soon as I read this tip I just had to try it with my chili. I gave it a go and was floored by how well it came out so I HAD to share the results with y’all.

chunky beef and bean chili | Brooklyn Homemaker

Okay one last bit of full disclosure:
I’m a big fan of heat and bold flavors so I tend to go a little overboard with the jalapeños, cayenne, and chili powder.

In the recipe below, the ingredients listed have ranges for those three ingredients. When making this for myself I used the maximum amount of spice listed on all three counts and I thought it was absolutely perfect. Russell however, complained (multiple times) that it was too spicy and said that I should reduce the heat for y’all.
So, if you like the heat feel free to go crazy and use the full amounts listed below. If you like things on the milder side, use caution and stick to the minimums. If you’re somewhere in between, stay somewhere in between.

When it comes to the meat, I usually like to buy a small chuck roast and cut it up into chunks myself. I find that A) this method is cheaper, and B) I know exactly what cut of meat I’m getting rather than the “grab bag” of leftovers they package as stew meat at the grocery store. I also find that the stew meat at my local grocery stores is usually cut too large to actually eat in one bite, and I always need to cut it up smaller myself anyway.

chunky beef and bean chili | Brooklyn Homemaker

Either way you go, this chili is insanely good. Thick and rich and tomatoey with a great flavor and as much heat as you like. Fall-apart tender chunks of beef mixed with hearty veggies and plenty of beans make this chili feel incredibly hearty and filling. Perfect for a chilly spring day.

If you do go a little overboard with the spice, a heaping dollop of sour cream, a handful of grated cheddar, and some rich and creamy sliced avocado can go a long way to tame that heat.

chunky beef and bean chili | Brooklyn Homemaker

adapted from my own recipe

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 pounds beef chuck or beef stew meat, cut into 1″ cubes
2 tablespoons masa corn flour (or all-purpose)
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse Kosher salt (maybe more as necessary)
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (maybe more as necessary)
1/4 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you like it)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/4 cup good Ale or dark beer, divided
2 medium onions, chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 to 2 jalapenos, seeded and finely diced (depending on how spicy you like it)
5 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
3 cups beef stock
28 oz  can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
15 oz can red kidney beans
15 oz can black beans

Optional garnishes:
grated cheddar cheese
sour cream
torn cilantro leaves
sliced avocado

If using pre-cut stew meat, you may need to cut it smaller to get 1″ pieces. Toss beef in salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin, chili powder, & masa to evenly coat.
In a large heavy bottom dutch oven or stockpot, heat about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Brown the meat in batches for 5 to 6 minutes, turning each piece about half way through to brown multiple sides. Do not overcrowd the pan or the meat will steam, not brown. Transfer browned beef to a bowl to rest while you brown the next batch, and repeat until all meat is browned. Add more oil between batches if necessary.

Once you’ve removed the last batch of meat, deglaze the pan with about 1/4 cup of the beer. Scrape up any stuck bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Reduce beer to almost dry. Add another tablespoon of oil and, once the oil is hot, sauté the onions for a minute or two. Add bell peppers, jalapeños, and garlic and cook 3 to 4 minutes more. Add beef stock, remaining beer, and browned beef cubes to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for one and a half hours, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer for one half hour more. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and beans. Continue to simmer uncovered for at least 30 minutes more or until the beef is fork tender and the liquid is slightly reduced and nicely thickened.
Taste and re-season with salt and pepper if necessary. If the chili is too thin, continue to simmer uncovered until it’s thick enough. If too thick, thin it out with additional beef stock, about 1/4 cup at a time.

Garnish with grated cheese, sour cream, torn cilantro leaves, and/or avocado. Serve with warm cornbread if desired.