Have you seen that meme on Pinterest? You know, the one with the cookie monster cupcakes that are REALLY adorable…and then the ones below it that you wouldn’t really be able to tell are cookie monsters, except for the cookies sticking out of their mouths? Nailed it. I love that post, because it just goes to show that not everything turns out exactly as you plan when it comes to baking. This cake was not necessarily like those cookie monster cupcakes, but it didn’t turn out exactly like the vision in my head. Guess what though? That’s okay because it was still delicious and really, really easy! We did an experiment cake (I think our co-workers were happy about testing various versions) and finally came to the cake we share with you now. It’s got the “creme de la creme” of holiday flavors: gingerbread, cranberry, and of course, chocolate. We started by making a cranberry cream cheese mixture that we layered in the middle of the cake.
Cranberry Cream Cheese Mixture
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon flour
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar water has come to a boil, add the cranberries and return to a boil. Turn the temperature down to medium-low, and let the cranberries simmer for about 10 minutes. They will start to pop, which we thought was fun. I know, we lead exciting lives! As the cranberries simmer, you can stir them around and poke at them with your spoon to break them up. Once the mixture begins to thicken, remove it from the heat and let it cool. You’ve just essentially made cranberry sauce! This was our first time making it. So if it was yours too, pat yourself on the back!
Once the cranberries have cooled, place them in a medium bowl along with the softened cream cheese. Now, 6 ounces isn’t a full brick of cream cheese, but just cut off a little hunk of it and save it for your morning bagel! Add the sugar (to bring out the tartness of those cranberries!), flour, and egg. Using a hand mixer, beat until the ingredients are well combined, and then set aside.
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon flour (these two are to coat the pan)
1 package Gingerbread Cookie Mix (17.5 ounces), we used Betty Crocker
1 cup milk, we used 2%
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks, roughly chopped
20 gingersnaps, broken into pieces
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, or your convection oven to 300 degrees F. Combine your tablespoons of melted butter and flour in a bowl and mix to combine. This will give you a paste that you’ll want to brush into every crevice of your bundt pan to prevent your cake from sticking and leaving behind big delicious clumps of cake!
In a large mixing bowl, combine gingerbread cookie mix (yes, cookie mix!), milk, eggs, melted butter, ginger, and cinnamon. Using your hand mixer (or a whisk), beat until combined, about 2 minutes. We tested this with strong ginger ale instead of milk, and while it turned out well, we wanted the extra moisture that comes from milk.
Add your chocolate chunks and gingersnap pieces, and stir them in. Layer half of the mixture into your prepared bundt pan. Then, pour your cranberry cream cheese mixture in next, followed by the second half of the gingerbread cake mixture. Place on the center rack and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake feels slightly bouncy when poked. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, and then place a cooling rack on top and flip it over. It should pop right out! Let the cake cool completely. We found that the cranberry cream cheese infused into the cake, which gave it an extra element of flavor and added moisture.
Next comes the chocolate! We used the chocolate ganache recipe from the peanut butter tart posted last week, but we omitted the bourbon this time. Pour the chocolate ganache over the cake, let it set, and then cover and stick it in the fridge! We found that it tastes best when it’s chilled for at least 30 minutes, and even better overnight! For a festive touch, go ahead and add some powdered sugar to the top — you can pretend it’s snow, especially if you don’t have any yet!
We are entering this Gingerbread Cake with Cranberry Cream Cheese and Chocolate Ganache in the Creative Holiday Recipe Contest hosted by Confessions of a Cookbook Queen and Cookies and Cups! You can check out the other amazing entries on their blogs. Yum!