Thursday, July 7, 2011

Miniature Ginger Cakes

This was a great recipe to find my baking (and eating) chops again. They were easy, they were adorable, and they tasted great.

The recipe lineup is a bit long, but it involves many ingredients that taste great together.

Lots of spices, lots of orange. One surprise spice here was coriander, which I normally tend to associate with savory dishes. It does have a citrusy note to it, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it melded well with the orange and other spices.

As you'll see, I caved and dug out the mini-muffin pans from my in-laws' basement ("Claire! Step over that box and climb on the shelf. Now reach down in the box over there..."). It turns out that I had two. Maida's original recipe is for 4 mini-muffin pans, and while I'm sure that we would happily have eaten 48 mini cakes, I didn't feel like running out and buying more pans.

This is a trick I learned from the King Arthur blog, which I enjoy but rarely bake from (too much product placement...). Anyway, if you let the muffins cool on their sides, they won't get soggy. Of course, you have to grease/butter those muffin pans well to be able to achieve this effect.
So, to describe these little muffins: cooling them like this made them have a nice, crispy exterior and a soft interior (because they're put together more like a cupcake than a muffin. See Bridget's explanation for this distinction). When you bite in, you get mostly chocolate and orange. Each of my family members exclaimed, "It's like a Pim's!" But then you taste the honey, and then the ginger kicks in--and it really does kick in for what might be called a spicy finish. And then you want another one.
Here's the recipe. I made half, but you won't regret making the whole thing. I think it would make 24 regular muffins if you don't have mini-muffin pans.

Miniature Ginger Cakes

1/4 c. (2 oz.) butter, softened
3 t. ginger
1/2 t. coriander
1/2 t. mace (I used nutmeg)
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cream of tartar
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
Finely grated rind of 1 orange
3 T. (1.3 oz.) sugar
1/2 c. (6.5 oz.) honey
2 large eggs
1-1/2 c. (6 oz.) sifted flour (I used some whole wheat)
2 T. (1 oz.) orange juice
1/4 c. (2 oz.) milk
3 oz. candied ginger, chopped into small pieces (smaller than 1/4-inch dice)

Heat the oven to 325. Grease/butter 4 mini-muffin pans (I put a dot of butter in each, put them in the preheating oven for a minute, then used a brush to butter them).
In a medium bowl, cream the butter with the ginger, coriander, mace/nutmeg, cinnamon, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and orange rind until fluffy. Add the sugar and then the honey and beat until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each. Take a spoonful of flour away from the total amount and add it to the chopped ginger, tossing well to coat it. Then stir half the remaining flour into the batter, then the orange juice and milk, and then the other half of the flour. Do all this on low speed, just until incorporated. Stir in the ginger by hand.
Carefully spoon the batter into the muffin cups--if you're like me, you may not have quite enough to fill all of them. Bake for 20-22 minutes (mine were done in less than 15) or until they are brown and the tops spring back when you touch them. Let them cool on a rack (on their sides as pictured, if possible). While they cool, make the glaze:

1 t. instant coffee
3 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 t. shortening (I used butter)
1/4 c. (2 oz.) water, boiling

In a microwave-safe bowl mix the coffee, chocolates, and shortening. Pour the boiling water over and stir until almost melted. I had to give mine another 20 seconds in the microwave. Use an electric mixer to beat until very smooth (I didn't do this but wonder if my glaze might have been nicer had I done so). Either dip the little cakes into the chocolate or use a small knife to spread it on. I dipped first until the glaze got a bit low.
Let the muffins cool enough for the glaze to set and then dig in and get ready for a flavor explosion.

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