I have a suggestion for post-holiday blues: post-holiday baking! That suggestion may have been borne from the fact that I am late in posting some recipes. But now that I've made the suggestion, I really do think it could work.
I first made this chocolate gingerbread cake years ago and decided to revisit it this year. Before I begin, I have a couple of things to tell you. First, this recipe is from the lovely Dorie Greenspan. I get to call her "lovely", implying a sense of intimacy with Dorie G. that I completely lack, because I once saw her on a subway platform. I didn't say anything at the time, but you can be sure that afterwards, I found her website, and left a creepy comment asking if it had indeed been her standing on the platform, and how I should have said hello (because that would have been less creepy, of course). Because she is indeed lovely, she actually wrote me back and confirmed that it was her, and I forget how exactly the next part came about, but she emailed me her recommendations of places to eat in Paris, a city that I had mentioned we would be visiting in the next month. So see? I get to call her "lovely", because she is.
Second, I am going to show you how to make this cake, but I made one huge mistake with this recipe this time. I inadvertently used blackstrap molasses instead of regular molasses (the recipe specifically states that blackstrap molasses should not be used, and if you do some research--although don't because I'm going to tell you--you'll see that blackstrap molasses is generally not used for baking because it's so damn freakin' strong). As with most things that go awry in my life, I blame this on someone else. Specifically Whole Foods. The only molasses on the shelf said "molasses" on the label. Nothing about blackstrap. I figured I was safe. After making the cake, I wondered why it was so much darker and sharper than the previous cakes I made. I looked at the ingredient label on the "molasses" bottle, and the first ingredient was "blackstrap molasses". What the hell gives. Kevin compared the taste to tar. Thank you sweetie. I made a tar cake.
Anyway, the method is the same, but your final product will be much lighter in color and hopefully in texture as well if you use regular molasses (like Grandma's Original Molasses commonly found in grocery stores).
Oh, there is a third thing to tell you--the original recipe has a chocolate icing. I skip that. If you want the chocolate icing, see the link above.
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sugar
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate—2 ounces melted and cooled, 4 ounces finely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (5 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 cup buttermilk (I used a cup of whole milk and 1 TBS of lemon juice)
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger in syrup (available in Asian markets), optional (I did not use this, but I imagine it would be very tasty)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square pan (which I do not have, so I used a 10-inch springform pan) and set it on a baking sheet.
Prep your chocolate (both the melted and the chopped) and fresh ginger. Mix the ginger with 1 TBS sugar. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and dry spices.
Beat together the butter and light brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Crack in the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each egg on medium speed.
Add in the molasses and mix on low speed until blended.
The batter will probably look a little curdled at this point. That's okay. Carry on. Add in the melted chocolate and ginger-sugar mixture and mix until blended (low speed again).
Still on low speed, alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk in 3 parts each (i.e. dry, buttermilk, dry, buttermilk, dry, buttermilk). Stop when just incorporated--you don't want to overmix because that develops gluten.
Using a spatula, fold in the chopped chocolate.
Pour batter into prepared pan, and place the pan (which is still on the baking sheet) in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Place pan on cooling rack for about 10 minutes, then unmold the cake (place a plate upside down on the top of the pan, flip the pan upside down so the cake is upside down on the plate--remove the pan and then flip the cake back onto the cooling rack).
When completely cool, slice and serve. This was part of our Christmas dinner, which was served with this chocolate pecan tart (which was the most complicated version of pecan pie I have ever made, which is of course why my sister put it on the menu, because her culinary skills know no bounds) and whipped cream.
As I said, yours will be much lighter than this "slice of tar" (which Kevin would call it). Ta-da!