It's my first time to host Thanksgiving, and I already have the table decorated with apples, pears, and dried leaves from our maple tree. Candles left over from our wedding. Mismatched cloth napkins and bits of ribbon to tie around the silverware.
My husband and I have cleaned the house from top to bottom, there are freshly washed sheets on the guest bed for his parents, and the pantry is stocked with groceries for Thursday. Tonight, I will start some of the preparations, like making the custards for two batches of homemade ice cream, but will do most of my baking on Wednesday.
In the fall, I like to use warm, aromatic spices. My usual baking blend is cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves, but for this cake, I thought I would let cardamom play a leading role.
Cardamom is commonly used in Indian cooking, but it also lends beautiful flavor to Scandinavian baked goods as well. With my Danish heritage, I grew up with a love of almond-flavored cakes and pastries, and a red fruit sauce my mom would make every year that was flavored with cardamom and cinnamon sticks.
The spice pairs wonderfully with chocolate, so I baked a cardamom infused chocolate cake, so light and moist, which I frosted with cardamom ginger buttercream. Little bits of candied ginger and mini chocolate chips are sprinkled over the cake, and a few homemade pumpkin cake truffles dipped in chocolate and topped with sea salt add a fancy flourish in their gold foil wrappers.
Upon first taste, the cardamom and ginger are surprisingly and pleasantly exotic. The mildly sharp heat of the candied ginger cuts through the sweetness of the buttercream. The dark chocolate cake is mysterious; its seductive layers filled with the creamy buttercream are unexpectedly light and airy.
I was feeling frustrated the morning I baked and photographed this, after a batch of muffins I made didn't work out, and this cake not looking quite like I wanted it to, even though it tasted fantastic. So the decorating is a little messy, but I'm sure you'll forgive me for that. This is a week to be thankful.
Cardamom Ginger Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened, special-dark cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons cardamom
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups boiling water
- 2 cups unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon meringue powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2-4 tablespoons cream or whole milk
- mini chocolate chips and chopped candied ginger for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease three 8-inch pans with non-stick spray (I used two 8-inch and two 6-inch pans, then split each of those in half for a total of 8 layers between the two tiers). In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry cake ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix on low for 30 seconds then on medium for 3 minutes. Batter will be thin.
Divide batter between the cake pans and bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely in the pans set on wire racks, covered loosely with a clean towel.
For the buttercream, beat the butter, cardamom and ginger until smooth. With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar and meringue powder until combined. Add the salt, vanilla and cream; whip on medium high for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy.
Frost the cooled cakes with the buttercream, and sprinkle with the chocolate chips and candied ginger.
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen