I'm back with another recipe from The Flavor Equation by Nik Sharma, and it was so perfect for the holidays. I just happened to have a giant jar of Iraqi date syrup in my pantry, so I was thrilled to have a use of it in this sauce. I didn't have bourbon so I left it out but will leave it in the directions below (which are from Nik Sharma's website as well as the book, which I recommend.) This was the end of the month challenge for the Rainy Day Bites Cookbook Challenge, an activity that has been such an excellent diversion for this year.
If I made this again I would have baked it 5 minutes less (I was worried about it being done enough and that left it just a little bit dry.) I still think the Smitten Kitchen take on Gramercy Tavern's gingerbread is my favorite, but it is legendarily difficult to get out of the pan - not a problem with this one. This also had some unique techniques involved, and I almost forgot to mix in the hot water at the end.
SERVES 12 / MAKES ONE 9 IN [23 CM] SQUARE CAKE AND 2 CUPS [480 ML] SAUCE
For the cake:
¾ cup [165 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground green cardamom
1 tsp lime zest
2½ cups [350 g] all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp fine sea salt
2 oz [55 g] crystallized ginger, chopped
¼ cup [50 g] sugar
¼ cup [85 g] honey
1 cup [320 g] unsulfured molasses or sorghum
½ cup [120 g] crème fraîche
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup [240 ml] water warmed to 158°F [70°C]
For the date syrup bourbon sauce:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup [240 ml] date syrup
1 cup [240 ml] heavy cream
2 Tbsp honey bourbon or whiskey
¼ tsp fine sea salt
Lightly sweetened crème fraîche
Fresh lime zest
Grease a 9 in [23 cm] square baking pan with a little butter and line with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the ginger, black pepper, cardamom, and lime zest. Let steep for 10 minutes.
Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Reserve 2 Tbsp of the flour mixture in a small bowl, add the crystallized ginger to it, and toss to coat well.
Preheat the oven to 325°F [163°C]. Place the sugar, honey, and molasses in the bowl of a stand mixer. Scrape out the melted butter from the saucepan with a silicone spatula and add it to the mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed until it turns a toffee-brown color, 4 to 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl, add the crème fraîche, and mix on low speed until combined, 1 minute. Stop and scrape down the bowl. Mix in 1 egg at a time on medium speed until combined. Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, add the water and mix until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape the sides. Fold in the crystallized ginger and transfer the cake batter to the prepared baking pan. Bake until the cake is golden brown on the surface and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan. Run a knife along the edges of the pan to release the cake and transfer to a serving plate.
To prepare the date bourbon sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Swirl the butter in the saucepan until the milk solids start to turn red. Whisk in the date syrup and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream, followed by the bourbon and the salt. Transfer to an airtight jar and refrigerate until ready to use. You can make this sauce 2 days ahead of time.
To serve, cut the cake into slices and serve with sweetened crème fraîche, a little lime zest, and a generous drizzle of the date bourbon sauce.
Notes from JennyBakes:
I used sour cream for the crème fraîche but would have used plain yogurt if I'd had it. I made a half recipe of the sauce, without the bourbon or any replacement for the alcohol, and that was enough for us! I also only had about 2/3 cup molasses so used date syrup for the rest of that as well.