Monday, October 22, 2012

Little Gingerbread Spice Date Cakes

I hope you don't mind that I'm posting something called "gingerbread".

I hope you don't think that gingerbread is only for Christmas.

This isn't a Christmas post, I promise. There's still so many ballerina flats to be worn, many more I-can-just-wear-layers-instead-of-my-hideous-but-warm-winter-coat days left and enough time still to not have to think about putting together a gift list. Let's put that off as long as we can, ok?

This is just a really awesome 'little spiced date cake' post. The spices that make up gingerbread.... ginger, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.... are just so dang perfect together, and it's a flavour that needs to be enjoyed all year 'round.

These little gingerbread date cakes are extremely moist and they get this way not because of a ton of butter, but because of the warm fiber-loaded, sweet date puree that gets mixed in right at the end. Dates are a great (and delicious) source of fiber, and they make me wonder why I don't eat them more often. Dates are so delicious! They're 105% snack-worthy. Hello! Why am I just coming to this realization now? I might just send dried apricots and prunes on sabatical.

Bonus points are added because they also keep really really well. You can wrap them up and keep them in the ice box. When you're ready to serve, just microwave them until warm and serve alongside some spiked whipped cream or ice cream. Caramel sauce might also just put these over the edge and I quite like taking go for it! 

Little Gingerbread Spice Date Cakes 
Makes 8 servings

6 oz pitted dates 
1 cup water
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground clove
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Combine dates and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer until very soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer dates and remaining liquid to a food processor and puree until very smooth. 
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Generously grease eight ½-cup capacity ramekins with butter or cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt; set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater/paddle attachment cream butter with brown sugar and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. The mixture may look slightly curdled in some spots but that’s ok because it will come together once the dry ingredients are added.
Gradually add dry ingredients while mixing on the lowest speed just until combined. Fold in warm date puree until evenly incorporated and smooth. Spoon batter into ramekins, filling them two-thirds to three-quarters full. Place ramekins on a rimmed baking tray or in a glass dish and bake until the tops are golden brown and the cakes spring back when touched, about 25 minutes.  When cakes are done, transfer them to a wire rack until they are cool enough to handle and then serve warm with ice cream!

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