white chocolate

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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spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache

Don’t blink folks, it’s almost Christmas!

spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

Every year it feels like it just sneaks up on me. No sooner have I taken a breath after the Thanksgiving dishes are washed than Christmas is a week away and I still haven’t done any shopping. I am terrible about waiting until the last minute to buy gifts. Always have been.

Luckily cookies make a great gift!

spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

Growing up my family always had trays of cookies around in the days leading up to Christmas, and having a variety of treats around always made things feel that much more festive and celebratory.

spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

One way to get that big variety of cookies for the holidays, without having to spend days in the kitchen, is to throw a cookie swap. A traditional cookie swap is basically a party where everyone makes one big batch of one type of cookie, and then everyone gets together and exchanges them. To make it really fun you can serve snacks and cocktails and have a packing station with cute paper boxes and cookie tins and tags and ribbons and twine. All the cookies are divided evenly and then everyone goes home with a handful of each type.

spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’ve always wanted to host a cookie swap but have never felt like enough of my friends would want to participate to make it worth my while.

spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

Thanks to the magic of internet though, I got to get in on the fun after all. This year I participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, organized by Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen.

the great food blogger cookie swap 2014 | Brooklyn Homemaker

The idea is simple. You register as a participating blogger, make a small donation, and you’re assigned three bloggers to send cookies to. Then three other bloggers are assigned to send cookies to you. It’s like secret santa through the mail, but with dozens of cookies! Last year over 600 bloggers participated and over $14,000 was raised for Cookies for Kid’s Cancer!

spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

I wanted to make a recipe that felt really special to me, and had flavors that I’ve always associated with the holidays. I’ve always had a love of dark molassessy spice cookies at Christmas, and linzer cookies have always felt really fancy, so I decided to combine the two ideas into one perfect holiday cookie.

The gingerbread recipe I used has been my favorite for years, and makes a really delicious cookie all on it’s own. If you want to make gingerbread cut outs, this is a great recipe to try. The cookies are thick and chewy and dark and bursting with plenty of spice. There’s warm spices like cinnamon and cloves, but there’s also a nice hint of actual heat from ground black pepper and ginger.

To take things to a whole other level of fancy, I sandwiched the cookies with an orange white chocolate ganache filling. It’s just the right amount of creamy sweetness and bright citrus zest to perfectly compliment the chewy spiciness of the gingerbread. When choosing white chocolate it’s really important to read the ingredients and make sure it actually contains cocoa butter. Most white baking chocolate and white chocolate chips actually don’t, but are instead white chocolate flavored sweetened palm. My advice is to look for plain white chocolate bars in the candy aisle instead.

spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

My cookies went to Club Narwhal, Love and Joy, and Pale Yellow. I hope they enjoyed them as much as I did, and as much as I enjoyed making them. There’s something about making cookies this time of year that is so much more fun than usual!

I received chocolate brown butter cookies from The Sassy Life, almond lace sandwich cookies from Love and Olive Oil, and peppermint sugar cookies from Greens & Chocolate. Everything was amazing, and Russell and I have been munching away merrily every since! What’s left of the cookies even made a guest appearance in my Mexican hot dark chocolate post!

Thank you so much to everyone who sent me cookies, and to everyone who participated this year! This was so much fun, and now I have a bunch of new favorite cookies for the holidays!

spicy gingerbread linzer cookies with orange white chocolate ganache | Brooklyn Homemaker

Spicy Gingerbread Linzer Cookies with Orange White Chocolate Ganache

  • Servings: makes about 2 1/2 dozen 2.5 inch cookies
  • Print
Spicy Gingerbread Cookies:
Barely adapted from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
3/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons milk

white chocolate ganache filling (recipe below)
powdered sugar for dusting

Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, pepper, salt, and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade attachment. Pulse until well combined, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and pulse repeatedly until mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal, about 30 seconds. With food processor running, add molasses and milk and process until dough is evenly moistened and forms soft mass, about 10 seconds.
If you want to double the recipe, you’ll need to make it in multiple batches.
Divide dough in half and roll into ¼ inch thickness between two large sheets of parchment paper. Place in refrigerator at least two hours (or overnight) or place on a flat surface in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes, until firm. The colder the dough is the easier it is to work with, so I recommend freezing.
Preheat the oven to 350F and adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Once cold and firm, peel the top sheet of parchment from the dough, flip the dough over onto the parchment, and peel off the other piece. You can cut into any shape you like, but if you want to make linzer cookies make sure you have one cutter that is 1/2 the size of the other (or smaller) to make your “window” in the top cookie. Cut out half the cookies in a solid “base” shape, and cut the remaining half of the cookies so that the smaller cutter forms a “window” hole in the center of the top cookie.
Place on prepared baking sheets spacing cookies 1 inch apart. Bake until centers are just set and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, anywhere from 8 to 11 minutes depending on the size of your cookies. To bake evenly, rotate the baking sheets halfway through. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets about 5 to 10 minutes or until cool and firm enough to remove from the parchment without breaking. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Gather scraps into a ball and repeat rolling, cooling, cutting, and baking with remaining dough until all is used.

Orange White Chocolate Ganache Filling:

7 oz good quality white chocolate (from bars, not chips)
1/4 cup heavy cream
finely grated zest of one large orange
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

In the the bowl of a double boiler over a very gentle simmer, break up the white chocolate into small pieces and combine with the heavy cream, orange zest, and salt. Stir with a silicone spatula until the chocolate is completely melted with no solid chunks remaining. Take your time, and be sure that the water in the lower pan never goes above a gentle simmer.
Once the chocolate is melted, remove from heat, add the butter and gently stir until completely melted and combined.
Set aside to cool until firm but spreadable. This will take about an hour or two. I’d recommend that you don’t try to refrigerate it because if it gets too cold it’ll be too firm and you’ll need to melt it again to soften it.

With a small offset icing spatula, or a butter knife, spread a small amount (probably about 2 teaspoons) of the ganache filling on to each base cookie. Top each of the filling-covered base cookies with a top cookie and line the filled cookie sandwiches up in a single layer on a clean surface. Dust all the cookies with a light coating of powdered sugar.

If packing for transport or shipping, I’d recommend refrigerating for at least an hour to fully set the ganache.