chocolate gingerbread cake with simmered oranges (or not)

Looking for one more addition to your holiday dessert table?  How about just one more sweet treat to offer at your Christmas brunch?  Or maybe you want something chocolatey right now?  Please feel free to try this one.  This is served right from the pan, topped with fresh whipped cream and sweetened simmered orange slices.  The brightly colored oranges contrasted with the dark chocolate cake make quite an impression.

The flavor of ginger is not overpowering here but it definitely shines through.  There’s a substantial amount of ground ginger in the cake batter along with a foundation layer of fresh ginger in the pan.

After sautéing the ginger slivers in butter for just a few minutes, the pan is set aside while the batter is prepared.

Here’s a pictorial guide to how the batter comes together.

When pouring the batter into the skillet or pan, try not to move the ginger slivers lining the bottom.  Do not stir the batter …that would disturb the layer of ginger.  Simply smooth out the surface with a spatula.

While the cake is in the oven, it’s time to simmer those orange slices.  You start off by making a syrup with citrus juice and sugar.  Then add the slices for a few minutes.  That’s it.

It’s amazing how sweet and tender the fruit becomes.  A beautiful and tasty garnish, for sure.

I realize that not everyone will be tempted by simmered oranges hangin’ out on their cake.  For those less adventurous in the group, skip the oranges and give them a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar and a big ol’ scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Either way, this cake is sooooo good.  Super moist with that subtle layer of ginger on the bottom and chocolate bits throughout.  It’s even good all by itself.


chocolate gingerbread cake with simmered oranges (or not)

Adapted from Nancy Wall Hopkins in BHG

Bittersweet chocolate and fresh ginger combine to make this moist delicious dessert.

Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 12 servings


Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour (374 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup full-flavor molasses
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup fresh peeled ginger, cut into slivers (about 1 ounce)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped (about 8 ounces)
  • prepared whipped cream, for serving
  • 1 recipe simmered oranges, for serving (optional)

Simmered Oranges

  • 3 - 4 small oranges
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • fresh thyme for garnish (optional)


Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 

  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, ground ginger, baking soda, baking powder, pepper, salt and ground cloves; set aside.  In a separate bowl combine molasses, 1 cup water and 2 tablespoons melted butter; set aside.

  3. In 12-inch oven-going skillet, cook and stir 2 tablespoons butter along with the ginger slivers over medium heat just until butter is melted. Spread the ginger evenly to cover the bottom of the pan in a single layer.  Remove from heat; set aside.

  4. In a large mixing bowl, beat the 1/2 cup softened butter on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar; beat until combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating 1 minute after each.  Alternately add the flour mixture and the molasses mixture, beating on low speed after each addition until combined. Stir in chocolate pieces.  

  5. Carefully pour batter over butter-ginger mixture (without disturbing the layer of ginger) in the hot skillet.
  6. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in skillet on rack 30 minutes (center may dip slightly).  Serve warm topped with whipped cream and simmered oranges.  Or, serve with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  

Simmered Oranges

  1. Slice oranges crosswise about 1/4 inch thick.  Discard seeds.  

  2. In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat bring sugar, water, orange juice, and lemon juice to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes or until syrupy. Add orange slices. Return to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes or just until oranges are tender, turning occasionally. 

  3. Transfer to a serving bowl and allow to cool.  Serve with chocolate gingerbread cake.

Recipe Notes

FOR GLUTEN-FREE:  Replace all-purpose flour with Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour.

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