When my husband Ted, Cousin Martin and I visited Trinidad many years ago, we spent a week as houseguests of Kathleen, who lived in Arima, an Afro-Caribbean community in the center of the island. An amazing cook, she introduced us to all of the Trinidadian specialty dishes, washed down with her potent homemade ginger beer. It was the first time I experienced ginger in such a vibrant form, and I've never forgotten that taste. True Caribbean gingerbread overflows with the strong flavors of molasses and fresh ginger root, making it both sticky and spicy, and in no way resembles the gingerbread made from a box mix. I'm not usually drawn to dishes with a strong ginger flavor, but I ate a large square of this gingerbread. And then I ate another, and a third one after that, and Ted did, too. Kathleen would approve.
From Caribbean Cooking, this recipe makes 1 9-inch pan (12-15 pieces).
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup hot water
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp grated fresh ginger root or ginger paste
1 large egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 300°F. Spray a 9-inch square pan with cooking spray, then line it with waxed paper so the paper comes up over the sides of the pan (you'll need the paper to get the gingerbread out, so don't skip this step).
In a medium sauce pan over low heat, gently heat molasses, sugar and butter. Stir in the hot water, and set the pan aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Stir in the fresh ginger or ginger paste, then the beaten egg. Add the molasses liquid, stir to combine, and pour into the prepared pan.
Bake at 300F for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes (even though it will be hard to wait that long).
Carefully lift the edges of the wax paper and slide the gingerbread out of the pan onto the wire rack. Let cool completely; as it cools, the top will become more crunchy, while the inside will remain moist.
Cut into squares and serve. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if you wish.
Gingerbread waffles, from The Perfect Pantry
Gingerbread cookies, from The Perfect Pantry
Gingerbread biscotti with apricots, from Cooking On the Side
Soft dark chocolate gingerbread cookies, from White on Rice Couple
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