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Spicy Gingerbread with Sherry-Cream Cheese Frosting

Fragrant spices give this gingerbread a big, bold character. The rich cream cheese frosting lends a welcome tanginess and balances the spiciness of the cake.

Ingredients:

For the cake: 

  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing dish
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 Tbs. ground ginger 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves 
  • 1/2 tsp. finely ground black pepper 
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper 
  • 3/4 tsp. salt 
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar 
  • 2/3 cup dark molasses 
  • 1 cup whole milk 
  • One 4-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated 
  •   

For the frosting: 

  • 1/2 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature 
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted 
  • 1 tsp. dry sherry 

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with butter.

To make the cake, in a bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the brown sugar and whisk vigorously to combine. Whisk in the molasses and milk. Add the grated fresh ginger and whisk well.

Pour the egg mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula a few times to moisten the ingredients. While stirring, drizzle in the melted butter, mixing just until blended.

Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish and spread it evenly. Bake until the center springs back when pressed lightly with a fingertip and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature in the pan on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the frosting: Using a stand mixer on medium-high speed, beat together the cream cheese, butter and salt until light and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until smooth. Mix in the sherry.

Using an icing spatula, spread the frosting over the cooled cake. Cut the frosted cake into 9 squares and serve. Serves 9.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Desserts, by Raquel Pelzel (Oxmoor House, 2008).