Gingerbread, On Demand

Here’s a moist comforting gingerbread that tastes of winter and warm spices—so good it should not be relegated solely to the holidays. The fact that it bakes in only two minutes should give you even more good reasons to have it freshly baked on demand, for round the clock availability.

The genesis of this tasty gingerbread, comes from Dina Cheney’s great little cookbook Mug Meals, Delicious Microwave Recipes. Her book helps us to consider new applications for the microwave beyond popcorn, warming a quick beverage, or reheating leftovers. It’s loaded with clever tips and recipes for creating real food with minimal muss or fuss—of particular interest to anyone involved in small space living, those faced with eating on the run, or fellow adventurers who just love playing with their food.

One of the biggest issues in microwave baking concerns the lack of browning and low eye appeal.  Bread without a golden brown crust just isn’t the same; neither are cakes with rough and bumpy tops.  Instead of starring at a pock marked cake surface or hiding it under a streusel topping, I opt to turn the gingerbread on its head—to invert and set it bottom side up.gingerbread-blog

Rather than the original huge mugful of gingerbread we end up with 3 or 4 smaller charming cakes that are nice enough for company.  Thanks to IKEA, individual silicone molds hold up perfectly in the microwave; with their stylized shapes, any bottoms simply disappear.  Small soufflé dishes will also work beautifully.mis-en-plas

There’s plenty of flavor going on here: warm spices and molasses for depth of flavor, citrusy marmalade and spicy apple butter all add distinct layers.  Nice enough for the holidays, these personal portions are a lovely addition at breakfast or pretty as an afternoon snack with tea. For an easy dessert, add a spoonful of Pear Butter or a creamy Custard Sauce.

Gingerbread Mini Cakes, Two Minute

Inspired by  Mug Meals, Delicious Microwave Recipes by Dina Cheney

Ingredients
7 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or any combo such as: 1 T cake, 1 T whole wheat, 1 T buckwheat, 4 T all-purpose
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, chopped, or 2 tablespoons currants or golden raisins (optional)
1 egg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 heaping tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon apple butter
1 tablespoon marmalade
1 tablespoon milk
Non-stick cooking spray

Directions

  1. Spray 4 – 3 oz. silicone baking molds or 3 – 4 oz. soufflé cups with non-stick spray.
  2. On wax paper or in small bowl measure in flour. A combination is nice, cake flour especially aids in texture and rising.  Add baking soda, salt and spices.  Combine well.  Add the candied ginger or dried fruit and toss to dust with flour.
  3. In 2 cup measure or small bowl, beat the egg with a fork, then beat in the oil. Add the molasses, apple butter, marmalade, and milk to combine.
  4. Pour the dry into liquid ingredients and gently stir with a spoon, don’t over mix.
  5. Spoon batter into molds to half fill, they will rise a lot. Set them on an ovenproof plate; cover lightly with wax paper and bake in microwave on high about 1 minute, until they are puffed and fully risen.  Carefully remove the paper and check.
  6. Return molds to oven without paper and continue to cook the interiors, about 1 minute longer, depending on oven. Check every 20 seconds until the centers are nearly firm and tops are set but still moist; they will continue cooking after removal from oven. Cool briefly to firm up.  Carefully run a thin knife around edges to release and turn out to cool further.  Yield:  3-4 cakes, depending on mold.

Raspberry Curd for Santa Baby

‘Twas the night before Christmas and what should appear

But Raspberry Curd in a glass ever clear.

A quick pause for Santa all loaded with gear,

While a mouse in the corner did hear him recite

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!”

Snack for Santa

Just in time for Santa! A Raspberry Curd with perfumed brightness that will add a punch of color and flavor to any holiday table.  In lieu of fresh berries, we use individually quick frozen raspberries, easily accessible in the frozen food section of most grocery stores.

In about ten minutes, a luscious curd is created by suspending raspberry essence into an egg-based cream and gently cooked while butter is whisked in until thick and voluptuous. Cornstarch also ensures perky firmness for filling tarts and cakes.

Raspberry curd is the basis of many exquisite specialty desserts.  With little effort you will have a handcrafted gourmet accompaniment for anything chocolate, pound cake, fresh pears, ice cream, and other delights.  Fill individual shells, cookie squares, a chocolate tart crust, or layer a cake with the curd.  Create a fast parfait or mousse by folding the raspberry curd into sweetened whipped cream. Treat it as you would any exotic jam or jelly.

Raspberry Curd

This is a quick and easy curd if all ingredients are prepped and ready to go.  

2 ½ cups fresh or 12-oz frozen raspberries, thawed
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest, grated
½ c cold butter, cut in ½” cubes

  1. In a blender or food processor, puree the raspberries with cornstarch and press through a medium sieve into a 1-quart non-reactive saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until the puree thickens, remove from heat.
  2. Rinse blender and pat dry; add the eggs, sugar and lemon zest; blend until light, about 1 minute.
  3. With motor running on low, slowly pour in 2/3 cup warm puree and blend to distribute evenly.
  4. Rinse the pan, pat dry, and pour in the egg-berry blend. Over medium to medium-high heat slowly whisk a piece of butter in at a time. Continue whisking and cooking until mixture approaches a boil; steam will begin to rise and the curd will thicken (about 8 minutes). Do not boil.
  5. Pour through a clean, dry sieve and cover the surface lightly with plastic wrap to avoid a film from forming. When cool store in refrigerator for two weeks. Yield: 2 cups.