Meyer Lemon Triple Ginger Chocolate Gingerbread

dark-gingerbread-with-lemon-and-chocolateLemon and ginger are natural partners, so I added zest and juice from Meyer lemons, along with freshly grated ginger, candied crystallized ginger and powdered ginger for a triple ginger zing in this dark gingerbread.  Cocoa powder brings a warmth to complement the zesty flavors. The warmth of the cinnamon and the candied ginger make up for the smaller amount of sugar than you’ll find in most recipes.

Have all ingredients at room temperature. Warm the eggs in a bowl of warm water. If you forget to take the butter out early, you can soften it using one of these methods: Fill a glass with hot water, empty it and set it on top of the peeled butter cube, or you can microwave the butter for about 5 seconds.

Ingredients: Makes 8 x 8 square pan. You can also make it in an 9 x9 pan.

1 stick butter

2 eggs

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

2/3 cup dark molasses (I used unsulphured organic blackstrap molasses)

1/4 cup candied crystallized ginger

3 Tb finely grated fresh ginger root

2 tsp finely grated Meyer lemon zest (the yellow part of the peel)

1 Tb fresh lemon juice

1 ¾ cups all-purpose unbleached flour

2 Tb cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp cloves

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp ground ginger

½ cup boiling water

1 tsp powdered sugar to sift on top of baked gingerbread

Preheat the oven to 350◦ Spray a 8 x 8 square pan with nonstick spray, then line the bottom with parchment paper. I set the pan on the parchment paper to measure it and cut it with scissors. Butter the parchment after placing it in the pan.

Mince the candied ginger. Peel the ginger root and grate on a fine hand grater. Grate the lemon zest, using the same grater. Squeeze the lemon juice, measuring 1 Tb.

In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy. I use an electric mixer. Add brown sugar and beat on high speed until lightened in color and texture, about 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and molasses. Beat candied ginger, grated ginger, lemon juice and zest into the batter.

Sift the flour, cocoa, and spices together, and then add to the batter, stirring slowly just until combined, then scrape the bowl.

Stir boiling water gently into batter.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake 35 -40 minutes at 350◦ until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Place the cake on a metal cooling rack, and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Slide a thin knife around the sides, and then invert the cake on the rack and peel off the parchment paper. Invert on a plate to serve. Sift a spoonful of powdered sugar on top if desired, or serve with whipped cream.

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Chocoflan!

This Mexican cake is a combination of my two favorite desserts: chocolate cake and flan.  It’s a pretty cool way to make: first you put cake batter in the pan, and then you pour the flan on top. The cake batter rises to the top and the flan sinks to the bottom and absorbs the delicious cajeta (ka-HEH-ta) caramel sauce. The flan doesn’t have any chocolate in it and the cake appears to be untouched by flan. Magic!

I tried making this 3 times until I got the cake right: a moist and richly chocolate. I adapted Kevin and Nancy Mills’  recipe for Devil’s Food Cake from “Chocolate on the Brain”, substituting Peet’s coffee for some of the water, and adding a bit extra vanilla and cocoa.

Ingredients:

3 Tb cajeta. I use Los Mexicanos brand, which is more syrupy than canned cajeta.

for cake:

½ cup brewed coffee (I used Peet’s)

¼ cup water

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (use the best you can find. I use Guittard brand from Berkeley Bowl’s bins)

¾ stick butter, plus about a teaspoon for greasing the pan

¾ cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour

¾ tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

for flan:

3 large eggs

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 can evaporated milk

2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350◦

Combine flan ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Heat the coffee and water to boiling. Add cocoa and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add ½ the chocolate mixture and beat until well blended.

Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until just mixed. Add the rest of the cocoa mixture and beat on low speed again until it’s blended into a batter. Don’t over-beat or it will toughen the batter.

Butter a Bundt pan (use a nonstick pan for best results) using your fingers. Pour the cajeta in and use your fingers to spread it around the bottom and sides.

Using a rubber spatula, scoop cake batter into the pan, and smooth it out.

Pour the flan on top of the cake batter.

Fill a large roasting pan with about 1 ½ inches of warm water. Set inside of oven on a rack on the lower third of the oven.

Place the Bundt pan inside the water bath (Bain de Marie).

Bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted all the way through the cake comes out clean. The chocolate cake will rise to the top.

Cool right side up on a rack. Then cover with foil and refrigerate overnight, or at least 12 hours. Serve cold.

Run a butter knife around all of the edges of the Bundt pan, then invert pan on a large plate.

The flan will now be on top, with the cajeta melted into it.

Blueberry Cake or Muffins


This is perfect for late spring and summertime when fresh blueberries are plentiful. I love how the fragrant nutmeg complements the fresh fruit. My friend Marcia got this recipe from her mom. Our families used to pick wild blueberries with her in-laws in the New Hampshire countryside.

I changed the recipe a bit, substituting finely ground whole wheat flour, cutting down a bit on the sugar and adding vanilla. The original recipe calls for half-and-half, but I use 1 % milk and still get a tender and delicious muffin.

Makes a 13 × 9 inch cake or about a dozen muffins

Blueberry prep:

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 Tb flour

Cake:

2/3 cup sugar

1 cube (1/2 cup) butter at room temperature

2 large eggs warmed to room temperature

½ cup milk

1½ tsp vanilla

1 cup finely ground whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup walnut pieces (optional)

Topping:

2 Tb sugar

¼ tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350’

Wash blueberries, and discard overripe ones. Dry in a paper towel. Toss blueberries with 2 Tb flour so that they are lightly coated.

Sift flours, salt and baking powder and stir well to combine.

Beat butter on high speed and add sugar, beating for a few minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until the mixture is light. Scrape the bowl and add 1/4 cup milk, mixing well.

Stir half the flour mixture into the batter only until combined. Add the other 1/4 cup milk and the rest of the flour mixture and slowly stir only until combined.

Fold in the blueberries and walnuts.

Pour in a buttered 13 × 9 inch pan, or into about 12-14 paper muffin cups.

Mix 2 Tb sugar with ¼ tsp nutmeg in a cup. Sprinkle about 1/3 to ½ tsp over each muffin, or if making the cake, sprinkle evenly over the cake.

Bake cake for 45 minutes, muffins for 35-40 minutes, until top is light brown.

Cake Decorating with Flowers and Fruit

I decorated this cake with nasturtiums and strawberries from my garden, which made a nice contrast to the cream cheese frosting. Nasturtiums are edible, with a slight spiciness to them.

Baby shower cake with strawberry flowers with apricot centers

I decorated this baby shower cake with flowers made from strawberry slices for petals and apricot slices for centers on a cream cheese frosting.

Meyer Lemon Bread and Blossom Tea

Meyer Lemon Bread

Any self-respecting Berkeley foodie knows the value of Meyer lemons from tasting Meyer lemon ice cream or cheese at the local farmer’s market. They are sweeter and more flavorful than plain old lemons, and ripen to a lovely orange-yellow. Back in the 50’s, when my parents first planted a Meyer lemon tree in their suburban backyard, they had no idea how trendy this fruit would become.

My mother made a delectable Meyer lemon bread, which is moist and fragrant with Meyer lemon juice and peel. It was a family favorite, and brings me back memories of crawling underneath our lemon tree to nab the ripest ones in the thorny center. I would just lie there, inhaling the delicate scent of lemons. I finally brought the bowl, heavy with fruit, to my mom. She would send me and my sister around to our favorite neighbors to give them lemons.

I now own my own dwarf Meyer lemon tree and make this recipe for my family and friends. I added a 1/2 tsp ginger powder to complement the lemon.

This recipe also works for cupcakes, but can be too sweet if you use a high sugar frosting. Try a cream cheese lemon frosting that’s not too sweet. But you really don’t need to frost it at all. The lemon syrup is delicious as is.

I also make a Meyer lemon blossom tea (recipe below.) A hot cup goes perfect with the cake.

I am going to visit my dear 90 year-old mother on Sunday and bring her a slice of Meyer lemon bread and some tea.

Meyer Lemon Bread

makes one loaf, cake or dozen cupcakes

Set oven for 350·  Generously grease a 5×9 loaf pan or 8 x 8 cake pan with butter. Or use 12 cupcake holders.

Ingredients (that is my mom’s original retro flour canister!)

ingredients for Meyer Lemon bread

½ cup butter (my mom used margarine  back in the day) at room temperature, plus at least a teaspoon for greasing the pan

½ cup milk

1 tsp Meyer lemon juice

1 cup sugar

2 eggs at room temperature, slightly beaten

1 ¼ cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp ginger powder

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup chopped nuts

Grated zest of one large or 2 small Meyer lemons (yellow part only)

Lemon syrup:

Juice of one large or 2 small Meyer lemons

2 Tb sugar

Add lemon juice to milk. This will make the milk curdle for a more delicate crumb.

Cream butter with 1 cup sugar. Mix in eggs and scrape bowl and mix again.

Sift flour with baking powder, ginger powder and salt. With mixer on low, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk to the butter-sugar-eggs mixture. Mix in the nuts and lemon zest.

alternate flour and milk in batter

Bake the loaf for one hour. Cupcakes should take approx 20 minutes. While it is baking, juice the lemon and stir it with 2 Tb sugar. When you remove cake from the oven, poke a bunch of holes in the top with a fork. Pour in lemon syrup. Spread a few teaspoons of what’s left on the top like a glaze. Enjoy!

lemon blossoms

My Meyer lemon blossom tea has a delicate natural sweetness. I’ve added a squeeze of lemon juice, fresh mint and lavender for a complex taste. Try the different combinations. You won’t need much sweetener, unlike regular lemonade.  Serve it iced with your picnic.

lemon blossom tea

Lemon blossoms are fragrant and sweet. If you don’t use too much lemon juice, you won’t need much sweetener.

Pick about 10 lemon blossoms and buds and rinse. Steep in hot water for at least half an hour. Add a squirt of lemon juice and agave nectar or honey to taste. The longer you steep it, the more flavorful.  Serve hot or  iced.

Lemon blossom – mint tea

mint leaves

Prepare as above with 2 sprigs of mint per glass.

lemon blossom mint tea

Lemon blossom-lavender tea

lavender

Prepare lemon blossom tea adding 2 lavender blossoms. Don’t steep this tea too long or the lavender will overpower the other herbs.

lavender lemon blossom tea