I have fallen in love with a bundt cake.
Dark and rich chocolate cake spiced with ginger, molasses, and sweetened with dark brown sugar. Blanketed in sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting.
Christmas on a plate.
What may look like your run-of-the-mill chocolate bundt cake, one bite of today’s cake will surely take you for a surprise. Deep in the chocolate crumbs you will taste a medley of warming winter spices, pungent and dark molasses, and a bold ginger taste ready to scare off your gingerbread man.
And ordinary chocolate bundt cake? Ha! This is none of the sort.
Originally intending to make a pumpkin chocolate bundt cake of sorts last weekend, I found myself eager to try something a little new. While I love pumpkin dearly, I am beginning to embrace the flavors of the upcoming holidays. There are no flavors I associate more with holidays than gingerbread or molasses, so into my chocolate bundt cake went… Christmas.
Into the cake batter goes cocoa powder, whole milk (or heavy cream), molasses, eggs, and brown sugar. I used oil as my fat in the recipe because I’ve learned that oil produces a much softer, moist slice of cake as opposed to butter. While I love butter in my cookie recipes, when I’m not looking for an item to spread and to remain moist over time – I find oil does the trick. Especially a cake with so much flavor from the ginger, molasses, and spices – you will not miss the butter in this recipe at all. Box cake mixes (which have the texture I was looking for) are baked using oil, not butter.
For the festive spices – if you’re anything like me, you’re going to lend a heavy hand pouring your cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves into the mix. The two teaspoons of ginger are necessary (you’re making gingerbread after all), but feel free to taste the batter as you add each and cut back as needed. I typically get sprinkle happy when it comes to spices in my baked goods (especially cinnamon), but the spice amounts below were even spot-on to my taste tasters. Just the right amounts, they said.
Spice is always nice.
The cake is left ultra moist from the oil, molasses, and dark brown sugar. More often than not, I favor using dark brown sugar in my baked goods because it adds a larger scale of flavor depth. One secret behind my Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies is the use of dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar in the dough. The dark variety leaves the cookies so soft and moist!
1/2 cup of dark molasses gives the cake a huge flavor punch – a little bit of molasses can go a long way, but in a dense chocolate bundt cake – a whopping 1/2 cup is not overpowering at all. I prefer dark molasses because it has a more robust flavor than light molasses (comparable to the taste difference between light brown sugar and dark brown sugar). I prefer dark molasses over blackstrap molasses as well – blackstrap is the darkest variety. Blackstrap molasses is too bitter for me and light molasses is too mild. Regular dark molasses fits the bill every time.
*Tip: spraying your measuring cup with non-stick spray before measuring the molasses will save you a lot of sticky trouble!
The cake’s texture is soft, yet dense – exactly how you can imagine the taste of gingerbread and chocolate cake if the two combined forces. You’ve got your pungent, slightly spicy, and thick slice of gingerbread with a delicate and moist piece of chocolate cake all in one bite. Texture perfection, if you ask me.
Each crumb is ultra moist, chocolatey rich, and tender. There are so many complex flavors happening in this cake that it is practically impossible to stop eating it.
I can think of worse problems.
The frosting was an afterthought and while this cake is simply glorious on it’s own, I felt a tangy and creamy layer overtop was the perfect addition. The cream cheese frosting is a Sally special… the perfect ratio of cream cheese to butter, confectioners’ sugar to vanilla, and a splash of milk to get things moving in the mixer. The white frosting is quite thick and smooths beautifully over the dark chocolate bundt – I love the color contrast of the two!
I topped the the frosting with a light drizzle of chocolate sauce. From the spices in the batter, the frosting piled on top, to the chocolate drizzle – apparently “more is better” is my motto today.
Now THIS is how I like my holiday gingerbread.
makes 10 servings
- 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 cup dark molasses
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup whole milk or cream
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 2-3 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
- 2-4 Tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- chocolate sauce, for drizzling (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325F. Spray a 9-inch bundt pan with nonstick spray. Dust with cocoa powder and tap out excess. Set aside.
- Over medium-low heat, melt together the oil, molasses, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan until all of the brown sugar has dissolved. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Whisk the eggs and milk into the molasses mixture after it has cooled (to avoid heating and scrambling the eggs). Set aside.
- Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg into a medium bowl. Gently fold the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until just combined. There will be lumps remaining. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes until cake is pulling away from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
- As the cake cools, make your frosting. In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add the confectioners sugar. Add the vanilla and the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until you've reached the desired thickness. Add a little more sugar or milk if necessary to achieve a spreadable frosting.
- Invert cake onto a cake stand or a large serving platter. Frost cake immediately before serving and drizzle with chocolate sauce (optional). Cake remains fresh for up to 4 days stored in the refrigerator.
Cake adapted from Martha Stewart
© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.
I am already in the Christmas baking spirit!
What are your favorite holiday flavors? Here are some of mine:
Lightened-Up Pumpkin Spice Bars (low fat!)
Did you see Averie’s Chocolate Molasses Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake from last week? It’s topped with Bailey’s Irish Cream Glaze. (omg.)