Triple-Ginger Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Sauce

Triple Ginger Gingerbread Slab

“I’d made my special cream-cheese sauce to go with the triple-ginger gingerbread. I’d long felt that gingerbread, while excellent in itself, was still essentially an excuse to eat the sauce, so I’d always made twice as much per portion as the original recipe called for. Then it turned out that some of our customers were even more crazed than I was, so I’d started making three times as much, and we served it in little sauceboats. You got purists occasionally that didn’t want any sauce, but the slack was taken up somehow.”
-Sunshine

After what feels like an endless string of baking fails, I have whiplash from this sudden reversal of fortune. I’m just going to tell you guys right now: the Triple-Ginger Gingerbread is amazing. It is so good it deserves its own food group. The food pyramid should be: meat, vegetables, ice cream, grains, and triple-ginger gingerbread with cream cheese sauce. When I first read the recipe, I thought it was overzealous with the ginger. Like getting the word “man” in Pictionary and drawing portrait of Tom Selleck in a tank. There is a lot of ginger in this thing. But you know what? It works. Beautifully. I am delighted to say that it tastes exactly like it should.

While I dig into The Bread Baker’s Apprentice thanks to my knowledgeable food-friend Jon, I thought it would be good to give my yeast a break and embrace the changing season. What a tremendously good idea that turned out to be. Instead of tragic sunken loaves of bread, I have spicy, sultry, mysterious Triple-Ginger Gingerbread for your rainy day pleasure.

I should also mention the host kitchen may be the most beautiful kitchen I’ve seen in real life. I’m puppy-sitting for my friend Laura today and I just couldn’t help baking. Look at this place.

Laura's Kitchen

I’m pretty sure the granite is taken directly from a dragon’s den.

Dragon Granite

Also: it takes like a solid hour for my kitchen to be useable. At least two until it’s photogenic. Laura’s kitchen just…looks like this. All the time. It’s like standing inside a magazine.

I just thought I’d explain now because once I start posting pictures you’ll start to stare at the gorgeous background and at least now you’ll know what you’re looking at. But enough ktchen-porn–onto the food!

Triple-Ginger Gingerbread

Adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 8 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (if pan greasing) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup diced cubed candied ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Note on the Ingredients

Triple Ginger Gingerbread SpicesThis recipe calls for a little spoons of a lot of spices. While you could probably leave out one of them, I wouldn’t. You can really taste the complexity. I highly recommend checking out the bulk bins at places like Whole Foods or coops (or Berkeley Bowl in my case). You can pick up small baggies of the spices instead of spending $15 on jars of spices you won’t use up. I bought enough of everything (except the ground ginger which I already had) to make 3-5 batches of this recipe for about $1.25.

Cream Cheese Sauce
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 2/3 cups whole milk
  • 16 oz (usually 2 packages) cream cheese at room temperature

Note on Cream Cheese Sauce

I was extremely unscientific with this part. I used half a pack of cream cheese and adjusted the ratio of powdered sugar and milk until it reached a consistency I liked. It is addictively delicious. Since I had Sunshine’s blessing, I just spooned on as much as I wanted and the whole batch lasted about 1/4 of the loaf (or 3 slices). To be on the safe side I quadrupled the quantity, but if you don’t think you’ll be eating 1/3 cup of sauce with each slice, you might get away with half the recipe here.

Triple Ginger Gingerbread Ingredients

Directions

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line long loaf pan with parchment paper and butter the sides. I didn’t have parchment paper, so I just went the old fashioned way and buttered and floured the pan.

Floured Loaf Pan

I had some candied ginger from Trader Joe’s, but the chunks are pretty large. I did a rough chop until they were around 1/4 the original size, but judging by the final product, I’m calling an audible. If the candied ginger pieces you’re using are as big as mine, pull out a food processor and pulse 1/2 cup of candied ginger with 1 teaspoon of sugar until they are in roughly 1 cm chunks.

Boil water. In a heat-safe bowl that can hold at least 2 cups of water, pour in the baking soda. Once the water is boiled, measure out 1 cup and pour it in the bowl. After a caramel corn incident I always use larger-than-necessary bowls for hot liquids, but I wasn’t expecting the science experiment level of foaming or the dramatic steam cloud that resulted. If your bowl is big enough it’s pretty cool. If it’s not, it’ll probably be really painful. Make sure the bowl is big enough.

Baking Soda Bowl
I totally missed the action shot. Next time.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, salt, and baking soda; set aside.

Using your mixer, beat butter for three minutes or until fluffy. Add dark brown sugar and beat until well combined.

Creamed Butter and Brown Sugar

Beat in molasses and ginger.

One of the rare times when the smell of in-progress cake batter is so intense I don’t want a taste.

Add the baking soda mixture, flour, and milk. Beat in eggs. The resulting texture of the batter is a little like pudding. It strongly reminds me of the best damn chocolate cake recipe I have that uses hot water to bloom the cocoa. That batter also resembles pudding at this stage and it turns into a ridiculously good cake, so…I’m very excited.

Triple Ginger Gingerbread Batter

Fold in candied ginger.

These are just way too big.
Just…way too big. This original recipe also called for a full cup which was a bit unbalanced. 1/2 cup should be enough.

At this point the batter is dark and the smell of molasses and raw spices is so intense I feel like I’m cooking a medicinal loaf. It doesn’t smell like cake (butter and sugar)–it smells fortifying. Like a German grandmother who shot bandits on a farm through her bedroom window on a Sunday decided I needed to strengthen my blood. So she made this.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.

Triple Ginger Gingerbread Batter in Pan

While waiting for the gingerbread to bake, make the cream cheese sauce by combining the powdered sugar, milk and cream cheese in a bowl and whisking until smooth. If the sauce is too thin, add more powdered sugar by dusting it in a ¼ cup at a time. If it’s too thick, add milk a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.

Cream Cheese Sauce

After 40 minutes check on the gingerbread. The top should be browned, so lay foil over the top to keep it from burning and bake an additional 12 minutes.

Don't be fooled by this gorgeous exterior. It's insides are still goopy and wibbly.
Don’t be fooled by this gorgeous exterior. It’s insides are still raw and wibbly.

Test doneness by inserting a long, sharp stick into the middle. If it comes out clean, take it out of the oven.

Baked Triple Ginger Gingerbread

Admire its rugged exterior while it cools.

Cooling Triple Ginger Gingerbread
I can’t tell which is more beautiful…the gingerbread or the slab of Bifröst under it.

Cut off a slab and drown in cream cheese sauce so good I may have started eating it with a spoon. Keep a sauce boat or bowl with small ladle close by. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk.

Triple Ginger Gingerbread

The stuff is so chock full of flavor and spice it’s not for the faint of heart. Of course a bite of this will probably strengthen that. After two pieces I feel like I can smoke cigars and wrestle a medium-sized woodland creature. And supposedly the flavor intensifies over time so it’s better the next day. I’ll see if I have any left tomorrow to test the theory.

Triple-Ginger Gingerbread

Ingredients
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 8 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (if pan greasing) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup diced cubed candied ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
Cream Cheese Sauce
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 2/3 cups whole milk
  • 16 oz (usually 2 packages) cream cheese at room temperature
Directions

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line long loaf pan with parchment paper or butter and flour the pan.

In a food processor, pulse 1/2 cup of candied ginger with 1 teaspoon of sugar until they are in roughly 1 cm chunks.

Boil water. In a heat-safe bowl that can hold at least 2 cups of water, pour in the baking soda. Once the water is boiled, measure out 1 cup and pour it in the bowl. Expect foaming and steam.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, salt, and baking soda; set aside.

Beat butter for about three minutes or until fluffy. Add dark brown sugar and beat until well combined. Beat in molasses and ginger. Then add the baking soda mixture, flour, and milk. Beat in eggs. Fold in candied ginger.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.

While waiting for the gingerbread to bake, make the cream cheese sauce by combining the powdered sugar, milk and cream cheese in a bowl and whisking until smooth. If the sauce is too thin, add more powdered sugar, dusting it in a ¼ cup at a time to reduce risk of lumps. If it’s too thick, add milk a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.

After 40 minutes check on the gingerbread. The top should be browned, so lay foil over the top to keep from burning and bake an additional 12 minutes. Test doneness by inserting a long, sharp stick into the middle. If it comes out clean, take it out of the oven. Let cool. Cut off a slice and drown in cream cheese sauce.

Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and eaten over the next three days.

Slab of Triple GInger Gingerbread

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