Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes
(Recipe adapted from Dorrie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours)
1 1/2 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed, light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup molasses (I used bear rabbit brand)
6 oz bittersweet chocolate chips or finely choped chocolate
1 cup buttermilk
For the icing (optional):
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp strong coffee
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 Tbsp shifted icing sugar
1) Oven preheated to 180C, rack in center
2) Whisk flour, baking soda and spices and set aside. If you're using a stand mixer, fit it with the paddle attachment, set on medium, and cream the butter and brown sugar together until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. The mixture will look curdled at this stage, but don't worry - it's suppose to look like this.
3) Add the molasses and continue beating until the mixture is smooth.
4) Reduce speed to low. Add the dry ingredients in three stages, alternating with the buttermilk. Begin and end with the dry ingredients. Do not over mix the batter. Fold in the chopped chocolate and pour the batter into your 9-in square baking pan. (I made this version as cupcakes - you should get about 12 - 14 cupcakes depending on the size of your cupcake liners)
5) For cake, bake for 40 minutes until the sides start to pull away from the pan. If you are making a cupcake version, bake between 17 - 20 minutes. Check to ensure that your cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it is ready.
6) Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then take it out of the pan and cool to room temperature before icing.
For the Icing (optional):
1) Melt the chocolate together with the coffee in a double boiler. Once the chocolate is melted, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter one tablespoon at a time. Sift the confectioner's sugar over the mixture and stir it in. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let it set for 10 minutes.
2) Pour the icing over the center of the cake and spread it to the sides. Let the iced cake sit for 30 minutes before cutting into 9 pieces.