Chocolate Ginger Cake and the Poor Choices of a Jet Lagged Brain

This past week my family and I were in northern California.  We spent a few days each in San Francisco, Carmel, Monterey, Yosemite, and Palo Alto.  However rather than where we went, I think what we ate is what is going to stick in my memory.  Elk, bacon that tasted like ribs, Prohibition era whiskey and raspberry coffee cake (this last one is all one dish…because people who do not use the Oxford comma are dumb and also a butt) were all fantastic.

Still, there is a downside to travelling westward.  My body has no idea when I’m supposed to be asleep.  Because of that I woke up at 6:00 this morning…which makes absolutely no sense as that’s 3:00am back in California.  Believe me, I tried explaining this to my internal clock, but it gave a very convincing argument: “No”.

Instead I went for a run, did several important computer related things, cleaned my room, poked around the internet for a bit, aaand then had lunch… as it was noon.

Then it seemed like a good idea to ruin my earlier run by baking.  Once again, the reasonable part of my brain protested: “You’ve been so healthy today!  Don’t mess that up!”

Again, the impulsive part of my brain came up with a better argument: “Chocolate“.

Which brings me back to California.  On our last night, I had chocolate ginger cake.  Since my last post, I’ve been using ginger a great deal more in my cooking.  It seemed like a good idea to combine these two tasty things again.

The thing is, I didn’t have a recipe.

While I know Ashok routinely makes his own recipes up and experiments with them, I’m a little more by the book.  I’ll usually only move away from a recipe once I’ve tried it and spent an hour thinking what I could do to make it better.  But as I said, I had no starting point.  Instead, I read recipes from Alice Waters, Alton Brown and Martha Stewart for chocolate cake and free styled the ginger bit.

Here’s the final recipe.


(Yes, there are a lot of them, and that usually drives me off from recipes, but if you have ginger and molasses, these ingredients are pretty common.  I didn’t go to the store to get any of these things)

  1. 1 cup whole milk
  2. 6 tbs cocoa powder
  3. Guts of 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
  4. A few squares of dark chocolate.  I’d give you an exact number, but I don’t remember how many actually made it in to the liquid….Dark chocolate doesn’t last long around me.  Between 3 and 5 is a good number.
  5. 1 3/4 cup All purpose flour
  6. 1 tsp salt
  7. 3 tsp ground ginger
  8. 1/2 tsp white pepper
  9. 3/4 tsp allspice
  10. 1 tsp baking soda
  11. 1 stick butter
  12. 1/2 cup white sugar
  13. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  14. 3 eggs
  15. 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
  16. 2 tablespoons fresh ginger (diced)


  • Preheat the oven to 350
  • Mix cocoa powder, milk and vanilla in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 1 minute and 30 seconds.  Stir in the chocolate squares and set aside to come to room temperature.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the eggs and molasses.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, ground ginger, pepper, allspice, and salt).
  • Alternate adding a third of the chocolate mixture, then a third of the dry ingredients until everything is combined.  Give it a few extra minutes of high-powered electric mixing and finally fold in the fresh ginger.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes and let cool.
  • Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, some finely chopped mint, perhaps even a few blackberries… if you’re feeling crazy.  When I ate it out west, it was sitting in a little pool of bourbon caramel…but that is for another day.  One when I can make someone else do the dishes.

Needless to say, I took care of that drip of chocolate-ey goodness on the bowl.

Overall I was pretty pleased with it!  I hope you enjoy it as well

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