It’s the first day of Spring 2010 and it was the night before Christmas!
Let me explain. It was life imitating art. As penned in the famous poem, Twas the Night Before Christmas, “The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their head,” last Saturday, I was lying in bed half asleep, half awake when I was startled to consciousness by a vision that could only be described as a gift from the heavens… Mini Chocolate Pound cakes soaked in ginger syrup and topped with a white chocolate ganache (Wow! Was that a run-on sentence or what?).
The more I thought about this flavor combo, the more excited I got. And as luck would have it, I remembered that I already had little 3 ½” loaf/cake pans that I had bought over a year ago but never got around to using.
This was coming together. I was wound up. I could barely go back to sleep. I tried counting sheep but they would start turning into chocolate pound cakes jumping over a country wood fence in front of a stream of white chocolate ganache. Ahhh, they were so cute.
The next morning I sprung out of bed, dashed over to the market, grab a knob of fresh ginger and sprinted back home to start my mad science experiment.
I was reasonably confident that I could develop the ginger syrup recipe on my own, but I knew I needed a jumping off point to for the cakes and ganache. I found what I was looking for in my often used cookbook, Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. I needed to make adjustments to the recipe.
The original recipe was for a classic standard sized pound cake (I cut the ingredients by half), I would need to add cocoa powder (so I reduced the amount of flour so that the final cake wouldn’t be too dry) and I needed to reduce the cooking time.
I am very happy with these cakes. The flavor profile came together almost exactly how I had imagined. The cakes themselves have a beautiful moist texture with a deep flavor from the cocoa powder. The ginger syrup, with its spicy, almost peppery flavor adds a spike of unexpectedness that really works well with the earthiness of the cocoa.
And then there’s the white chocolate ganache. It’s white chocolate…what else can I say.
One last thing. To give the cakes an added layer of flavor (and visual texture), I topped the cakes with a sprinkle of chopped crystallized ginger. This was my good friend Robert’s idea. And it was a stroke of genius on his part.
NOTE: You’ll have little more of the ginger syrup than you’ll need for the cakes. No worries. Mix a little of the syrup with a glass of club soda and you’ll have a fabulous homemade ginger root soda.
NOTE 2: I first tried spooning ginger syrup over the cakes (see photo). That didn’t work so well. The syrup didn’t absorb into the cakes – it just ran down the side. So, I decided to instead submerge the warm cakes upside down into syrup. That worked like a charm (photo above).
MINI CHOCOLATE POUND CAKE WITH GINGER SYRUP
Original Ceramic Canvas Recipe
4” piece of ginger
1 ½ cups of water
1 cup granulated sugar
Using the back of a spoon, gently rub the skin off of the ginger piece. Cut the ginger into medium sized dice. Add ginger pieces and 1 ½ cups of water into a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to the water barely simmers. Continue simmering until water has reduced to about 1 cup in volume, about 15 minutes.
Remove from heat. Pass liquid through a fine-mesh strainer to remove ginger pieces. Stir in sugar until it dissolves. Set aside.
MINI-CHOCOLATE POUND CAKE
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 TSP kosher salt
4 TBL cocoa powder
1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup of granulate sugar
1 TSP pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
Special equipment: 3 ½” nonstick loaf pans
Preheat a convection oven to 325⁰ (or 350⁰ on a traditional oven). Line nonstick mini-loaf pans with parchment paper and set aside (alternatively, you can butter the loaf pans instead of using parchment paper). In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder, set aside.
In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, granulated sugar and vanilla on medium-low speed until the light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. With mixture on low speed, add flour mixture, beat until just combined.
Spoon the batter into a prepared pan and smooth out with a spatula. Bake until cakes rise, turn rich brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool just until they are able to be handled.
Makes 6 mini-loaf cakes
WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE CHOPPED GINGER GARNISH
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
3 TBL crystallized ginger
½ cup heavy cream
4 oz white chocolate, chips or finely chopped
Finely chop crystallized ginger and set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat bring cream to a full boil. Turn off heat. Add the white chocolate and swirl pan to completely cover it with the cream. Let stand about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk mixture until it is smooth. Transfer to a clean bowl, Let cool, stirring frequently.
Ganache will thicken as it sits. To cover cake, it should be pourable but still thick enough to coat. If not, place bowl of ganache over a pan of simmering water and stir until it reaches the right consistency.
Set ganache aside.
ASSEMBLING THE CAKES
Pour warm ginger syrup into a medium sized bowl. One by one, place upside-down cakes into the ginger syrup and allow them to absorb a good deal of the liquid, about 3-5 minutes each. Repeat process with all cakes.
Spoon white chocolate ganache over the ginger syrup-soaked cakes. Garnish with finely chopped crystallized ginger. Serve.