Christmas has meant a lot to me for as long as I can remember. While I’m not Christian, my family often plans a big celebration on this holiday and turns it into an occasion to spend time together eating delicious food, exchanging presents, and most importantly, enjoying a night filled with music, illuminations, and cheer.
When I was still living in Mauritius, my family planned a barbecue in our yard every year since it was summer there in December. When I immigrated to the US, even though I had to get used to a different atmosphere, I still enjoyed the festivities with family members who lived close by. Instead of BBQs, we switched to having a Christmas dinner in the comfort and warmth of the dining room by the Christmas tree. This year, my dad even invited a friend to spend a few days with us! I’ve found that having guests over always tends to make the holidays a lot more fun and memorable!
On Christmas day, while my parents were busy preparing a roasted chicken and some side dishes, my dad’s friend and I assumed the important responsibility of making the dessert: a wonderful gingerbread cake that would be served with chocolate ice-cream, star fruits, and maraschino cherries.
My favorite ingredient in this recipe was definitely the molasses. Molasses is a thick, dark, and bittersweet syrup obtained during the process of extracting juice (that gets crystallized into sugar) from sugar-canes. It’s often used in ginger-flavored treats and adds a delicious sweetness and richness that works perfectly in Christmas desserts. If you use molasses in a dessert, you will notice its distinct and exquisite fragrance as soon as you open the jar! However, since it is syrupy, it gets extremely sticky so I recommend buttering or brushing the measuring jar with oil before pouring it in.
~ Gingerbread Cake ~
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 3 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp granulated white sugar
- Zest of an orange
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp cognac/rum/brandy (Note: the alcohol evaporates and it’s only added for the flavor)
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup dried raisins
- Confectioners sugar to dust on top
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, butter a 9 in. round pan and line it with parchment paper.
2. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.
3. Butter a measuring jar and pour in 1/2 cup of molasses.
4. Pour the molasses into a saucepan along with the stick of butter and stir them together over medium heat until they come just to a boil.
5. Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl and add in the light brown sugar, granulated white sugar, vanilla extract, and orange zest. Do not add the eggs in while the mixture is still hot!!
6. Warm the 1 tbsp of cognac and the dried raisins in a separate bowl in the microwave for 1 minute. The raisins will absorb the flavor of the cognac.
7. When the molasses mixture has cooled down enough, beat in the eggs, add in the milk, and fold in the flour mixture.
8. Then fold in the raisins and bake the cake for 42 minutes.
9. Let it cool to room temperature and dust the top with confectioners sugar when it’s time to serve it.
My dad and I love Haagen-Dazs ice cream and always get it for special occasions (and we always have a hard time choosing one flavor because they all sound so amazing!) This time, we went with midnight cookies & cream because we figured it would complement the gingerbread the best. (And we were right!! Ginger and chocolate are a wonderful and sometimes, underestimated combination)
In Mauritius, my family and I always enjoyed tropical fruits during this time of the year such as mangoes, lychees, and star fruits. Luckily, we found some nice star fruits here in a Korean store and my dad suggested decorating the dessert plate with them. I think that was definitely a good idea and I’d love to use them again as garnishes. The star shape and pretty golden green color of this fruit makes for a beautiful decoration that would go well with lots of desserts. We also used maraschino cherries to top it off with a nice red color.
This dessert was pretty quick and easy to put together! It was light and fluffy as well as extremely tempting and delicious. (It was almost gone in 2 days!)
So, all in all, with the baking and precious family time, it turned out to be a wonderful day! I hope everyone had an amazing holiday season with lots of good memories to cherish 🙂