Each year I like to try out a new gingerbread recipe. I think it's a lovely Christmas morning breakfast. It's sweet, seasonal, and can be made the day/week/month (if frozen) before so that there's no stress in pulling it out on Christmas morn. Last year I tried a pumpkin gingerbread. This year my inspiration came from The Casual Baker who posted a chocolate gingerbread.
I auditioned it yesterday and it's definitely good. She manages to be true to both the gingerbread and chocolate flavors--no small feat since they both have strong personalities. If you like gingerbread and chocolate, you'll love it. If, however, you like one but not the other, you'll spend all your time wishing that it was either one or the other, although I suspect that you'll still be able to force it down.
If you, like me, decide you must have this, here are a few tips.
1. Use parchment or wax paper under the bread (I used 2 loaf pans, not the bundt pan she used). Hers stuck; mine stuck (even though I let it set completely as recommended). Save yourself the grief.
2. Bake it at 325 instead of 350 and give it a bit longer.
3. Though delicious, the bread was a bit crumbly. I'm not entirely sure how to fix this, but I suspect that oil in place of butter (or part oil in place of part of the butter) might help.
4. The Casual Baker calls for mini chocolate chips. I don't quite get mini chocolate chips, but I recently bought some accidentally so I used them. And I definitely don't get mini chocolate chips. I like the big punch of a sweet chocolate-y patch that normal-sized chips create. I like the toothsome textural difference of a normal-sized chip once the bread has cooled. Mini's are like chocolate crumbs. I like my chocolate in more than crumbs. And the mini's are more expensive. A 10 oz bag of Ghiradelli cost the same as the 11 1/2oz bag of the normal-sized chips. So if you use the mini's, don't say I didn't warn you.
But of course I couldn't leave this recipe alone. Why? Because I wanted to make it healthier. You may have noticed that I have this problem. I like to eat sweets for breakfast, and not just Christmas morning breakfast if you know what I mean. So I made a loaf with all whole wheat and I added 1/4 C of sweet potato puree because, as you must know by now, I've got the stuff lying around. (I think pumpkin or even zucchini would have worked nicely too.) I also meant to reduce the sugar; I swear I did, but we had a rough night. My husband was working. My whole wheat and plain white flour bowls had been thrown together by my 3-year-old, toilet paper was unrolled and lay in wet clumps after bath time, my holiday spoons dipped in chocolate for stirring hot cocoa had been mysteriously licked off, and then my 3-year-old came into the kitchen with my deoderant smeared all over her chest and--unbeknownst to me--her toothbrush. I got a lot of complaints when I jammed the toothbrush in her mouth about how she needed toothpaste. 'Don't you have toothpaste on it.' 'No, I need toothpaste.' Sure enough, if was covered in peachy anti-persperant instead. I guess the punishment fit the crime. So even though my sugar didn't get reduced, I'm proud that all my children are still alive with limbs in tact and that I remembered the sugar (not to mention the other ingredients) at all.
And it was good. It was actually very good, but the whole wheat (or perhaps the sweet potato, but I think it was the wheat) muted the flavors of the chocolate and ginger a bit (especially and unexpectedly the chocolate), making it seem lighter and duller than the original. Also, even though it's healthier, it's not quite as virtuous as I like my breakfast food. I'm afraid I'd have to put it in the healthy dessert category instead. Don't worry, I ate it for breakfast this morning anyway.
So if you're in the mood for something you can pretend is healthy, I've got your back.
And if you try it with less sugar, let me know how it turns out.
Whole Wheat Chocolate Gingerbread
Serves 12-24 depending on how thin you can slice it
adapted from The Casual Baker
2 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 C butter, softened (or canola oil)
1 1/4 C sugar (I'd say you could get away with at least 1/4 C less and probably more)
1/4 C sweet potato or pumpkin puree (optional)
1 tsp vanilla
1 C molasses
1 C hot water
1 C chocolate chips
In a bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and spices.
In small bowl, combine molasses and hot water.
In large bowl, cream butter (or oil) and sugar. Beat in sweet potato if using. Beat in egg. Beat in vanilla.
Add half of flour mixture, then half of molasses mixture, then rest of flour mixture, then rest molasses mixture.
Mix in chocolate chips.
Pour batter in 2 loaf pans, greased and lined with wax paper.
Bake at 325 for 45-55 minutes.