Thursday, April 1, 2010

Impossibly Delicious

I *love* it when restaurants reveal their famous recipes. Chow of San Francisco, one of my very favorite restaurants ever, anywhere, just had its impossibly delicious Ginger Cake recipe published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

I know what you may be thinking: Ginger Cake? Ptooey. But trust me on this one -- this cake is insanely yummy. I myself am not the hugest ginger fan; I like it alright, but I would normally never choose it over, say, chocolate or even berry anything. But this cake has won me over time and again. (Admittedly, Chow also has a chocolate cake that is absolutely to die for. But they haven't released that recipe!)

As the Chron writer puts it, this cake is "a rich dark blend that reminds me of fall but is on the menu year-round and plays as well in spring, summer or winter."I'm telling you, folks: this cake is goooood.

And with that, as a hat tip to my old stomping grounds of San Francisco and very fond and delicious memories of the wonderfully versatile Chow, here is the recipe after the jump. (Wait til after Passover to make this one; it's definitely not chametz-free!)

Click here to read the rest of Impossibly Delicious

(And as a kindness to you, my fair readers, I am leaving out the nutritional info they include at the bottom of their article. I mean, when ordering or making cake, the last thing one wants to see is just how sinful we're being. Better to just eat the cake and really allow yourself to enjoy it.)

By the way, if you know of any other good published "secret" recipes of famous dishes from restaurants, please share! I just love those.

Chow's Ginger Cake With Caramel Sauce & Whipped Cream

The secrets

Two kinds of ginger: Loads of fresh ginger, backed by the powdered product, gives the cake a fresh spike of flavor.

Dark molasses: This adds a rich, earthy element to the blend.

Warming before serving: While the cake is good cold, it tastes even better gently reheated in the oven.

Caramel sauce: The caramel adds a pleasant dose of sweetness and sets this cake apart.

Serves 16

The Cake

* Butter and flour to prepare pan
* 2 ounces ginger, peeled and finely grated on a Microplane (about 3 tablespoons)
* 1 cup sugar
* 3/4 cup rice bran oil or other neutral flavored oil
* 3/4 cup dark molasses (see Note)
* 4 large eggs
* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1 tablespoon baking soda

Caramel sauce
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
* 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
* 1 cup heavy whipping cream at room temperature
* 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into pieces

Whipped cream
* 1 cup very cold heavy whipping cream
* 1/4 teaspoon Tahitian vanilla extract
* 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, + more to garnish

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly butter a 9- by 9-inch cake pan and dust very lightly with flour or line with parchment paper (see Note).

Combine ginger with 1/2 tablespoon water in a mixing bowl; add sugar, oil and molasses. Mix on low speed. Add eggs; continue mixing at low speed until fully incorporated.

Combine flour, cinnamon, cloves, white pepper, ground ginger and baking soda in another mixing bowl. Add dry ingredients slowly to the egg mixture, continuing to beat slowly, scraping mixing bowl occasionally. Increase speed to medium for 2 minutes. Scrape; decrease speed to low and slowly add 3/4 cup hot tap water. Mix until just combined, occasionally scraping. (The batter will be slightly thin.)

Pour into prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes.

For the caramel sauce: In a medium-size stainless steel pot, combine sugar and 1 3/4 cups hot water, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add corn syrup and cream of tartar; mix. Wipe down the inside of the pot with a wet towel to remove any sugar crystals. If needed, also brush inside of pot just once with a wet pastry brush. Bring to a boil over high heat without stirring, until mixture becomes a deep caramel color or a candy thermometer reaches 335°.

Remove pot from heat and immediately add cream in a slow stream while stirring (be careful - it will pop and sputter). Whisk in salt and the butter, a little at a time.

The caramel sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated. Carefully reheat in a water bath or in a microwave before using. Makes approximately 2 cups.

For the whipped cream: Vigorously whisk cream, vanilla extract and powdered sugar in a cold bowl until the cream reaches soft peaks. You want the cream to be relatively soft so it can slowly run over the sides of the cake. Makes about 2 cups; refrigerate leftovers to use another time.

To finish: (At Chow, the cake is cut into 2-inch squares and reheated 2 1/2 minutes in a 350° oven.) Place the cake square in a shallow bowl, top with caramel sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. Finish with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Note: If you plan to turn the cake out of the pan before cutting, also use the parchment paper, which helps the cake release more easily. Dark molasses (also labeled "full") is more intensely flavored and less sweet than light or mild molasses. Avoid using blackstrap, which is less sweet and has a stronger flavor than dark molasses.


  1. now, see i AM a huger ginger-phile, and yet ginger cake, gingerbread, snaps, or cookies are not usually a huge draw (but that may be the savory-sweet divide)--but i may just have to try now--although we're usually at chow for their great organic, locavore breakfasts...

  2. well according to this chron writer, you can/should totally order the ginger cake for breakfast!

    (i love their breakfasts.)


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