It's that time of year, the time when everyone is out and about, braving the crowded stores and getting prepared for the holidays. It's crazy-busy, and exhausting, and if you live on the flight path between your friends and the local shopping center, you will probably get some spontaneous drop-in visitors in search of a restorative cup of tea, a supportive hug, and a rest room with no waiting line. Even if you didn't get more than a quick text message saying, "I'm coming over in a few minutes", you can throw together a cake that's sure to cure the shopping blues. This last-minute from-the-pantry chocolate gingerbread cake comes together in less time than it takes to preheat the oven, and in an hour, start-to-finish, it's baked and cooled and ready for visitors. Even better, if you have a few minutes at the end of the day, throw one of these cakes in the oven. When it's cooled, cut it into four pieces and freeze. Each piece will serve 3-4 tired friends. Dust the cake with powdered sugar, or top it with ice cream, right before serving.
Last-minute chocolate gingerbread cake
From the pantry, you'll need: all-purpose unbleached flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, powdered ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, butter, light brown sugar, molasses, egg, confectioners sugar, baking spray.
Recipe from the McCormick web site, with very slight alterations. Serves 12.
2-1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp powdered ginger
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed light (or dark) brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1 large egg
1 cup boiling water
Confectioners sugar, for dusting
Baking spray (Baker's Joy, or PAM with flour)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with baking spray, and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
In the bowl of a Kitchenaid-type stand mixer, beat together on medium speed the butter, sugar and molasses, until the ingredients are well blended. Stir in the egg.
Then, with the mixer on lowest speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the hot water, stirring just until everything is combined. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
Bake 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes; then invert the cake directly onto the rack, and cool completely.
Before serving, sprinkle the cake with confectioners sugar. Or, top individual servings with vanilla ice cream.
More quick cakes for last-minute desserts:
Apple spice bread, from The Perfect Pantry
Quick and easy chocolate dump cake, from The Perfect Pantry
No bake chocolate cake, from Rasa Malaysia
Easy black and white cake (gluten-free), from Elana's Pantry
Easy blueberry buttermilk cake, from Skinnytaste
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