Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Glaze and Candied Ginger

During Top Chef season 5, I absolutely loved Carla Hall.  I thought she was the sweetest chef to ever grace the show, and her quirkiness was so endearing.  She seemed like someone I’d like to cook with, unlike some of the people on the show.  She’s now on The Chew, a daytime foodie talk show that I almost never watch, mostly because if my television is on when my kids are awake we are watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Peppa Pig or Umi Zoomi.  I happened to catch a part of an episode recently where she made gingerbread sandwiches, a gingerbread loaf with a couple of different fillings, lemon cream cheese and a cranberry compote.  The next day I bought the necessary ingredients.  But it took me a while to actually make the gingerbread.  I finally got around to it this week.


This gingerbread isn’t sweet.  There’s no sugar other than what’s in the ginger beer and the molasses.  It’s very spicy and dense, so it pairs well with the light and sweet cream cheese glaze.  The candied ginger provides texture and makes the mini muffins especially lovely.  While this wasn’t what I was expecting when I made this bread, it is a nice cold weather treat and would be perfect paired with hot chocolate and eaten in front of the fire.  Have I mentioned that it’s 76 here with 80% humidity?  I won’t be sitting in front of a fire anytime soon, but if your weather permits it, please sit in front of a fire and drink hot chocolate for me.

I ran into some issues when I made this bread, so be warned.  If you go to The Chew’s website and follow the instructions for this bread without reading the comments you will be a sad and sorry baker.  And possibly an angry baker, if you’re anything like me.  Shouldn’t they have people whose job it is to read and test the recipes they post on their site?   After mixing up the batter I thought that it looked like an awful lot for one 9 inch loaf pan (which is what the original recipe calls for).  So I filled my pan about 3/4 full and still had a ridiculous amount of batter left.  I could have easily filled another loaf pan, but instead opted to make some mini muffins.  Then I looked at the comments and realized that almost every person complained about the same thing, way too much batter for 1 loaf.  I still had some batter left over, but had made such a mess of my kitchen by this point that I didn’t want to get another thing dirty.  Remember to ALWAYS read comments on a recipe before you make it.  I’m glad I read them before pouring all the batter into one pan.  It would’ve been a disaster.


 Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Glaze and Candied Ginger

From Carla Hall on The Chew

Makes 2 9-inch loaves or 1 9 or 10-inch loaf and 24 mini muffins


For the Gingerbread

  • 2 cups dark molasses
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup strong Ginger Ale or Ginger Beer
  • 4 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sour cream or buttermilk
  • 4-5 pieces of candied ginger, chopped, for garnish

For the Cream Cheese Glaze

  • 4 ounces of softened cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons of powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the Gingerbread

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease and flour your pans.
  2. Combine butter, molasses and ginger ale in a saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture boils.  Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Sift flour, salt, spices and soda together in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Transfer the molasses mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if you’re using a handheld mixer.
  5. Beat the eggs into the molasses mixture until well combined.
  6. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream/buttermilk in 5 total additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Continue to mix on medium low speed until thoroughly combined.
  7. Bake loaves for 45-55 minutes.  A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.  Bake mini muffins for 10-12 minutes.
  8. Let cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

For the Cream Cheese Glaze

  1. Beat cream cheese with powdered sugar until smooth.
  2. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  3. Spread onto cooled gingerbread loaves or mini muffins.
  4. Use candied ginger to garnish loaves and muffins.

Holiday Baking: Chewy Ginger Cookies

I’ve always called these gingersnaps, but they cannot accurately have that name since there is very little “snap” to them in texture.  If you’re looking for a crispy gingersnap, this is not the cookie for you.  These cookies are incredibly delicious and something that always makes me think of this time of year.  After I got them in the oven my house finally smelled like it should a week before Christmas. I can’t really say anything else about them.  They are just so very good.

Since this makes a lot of sturdy dough, make sure to use a stand mixer.  Or make half the recipe so that a hand mixer won’t give up on you.  Or, if you’re looking for an arm workout, mix them up with a big wooden spoon.  Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

Chewy Ginger Cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Beat shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, beat in molasses, and then eggs. Mix until combined.
  2. Whisk together flour, soda, cloves, ginger, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients in 2-3 additions, beat until well combined.
  4. Roll into golf ball sized balls, roll in sugar, and place on a baking sheet with about 2 inches in between.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.
I made these cookies for a cookie exchange I hosted a couple years ago and just realized that I’ve already posted this recipe, so I’ve officially re-blogged on my own blog.  Oh, well.  I think these are worthy of that honor/mistake.

Daring Bakers: Steamed Caramel Apple Pudding

The moment I saw this challenge I had a sinking feeling in my stomach.  Steamed pudding.  As in British steamed pudding.  Really?  And get this.  I was supposed to use SUET!  Where would I find suet?  A better question is, what exactly is suet?

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

Esther explained on the Daring Bakers site that suet “is the hard but flaky fat found on the inside of a cow or sheep around the kidneys and that area of the body. Suet in its raw form crumbles easily into small chunks so much so that my butcher says it covers his floor in bits if he doesn’t have it taken out as soon as possible. In fact unless he knows he has a customer for it he has the abattoir take it out and throw it away and when I want some he gives it to me for free! It also melts at quite a low temperature, which has an effect on how it works in cooking. In some places such as the UK it is sold processed which basically means it is grated and combined with flour to keep the individual pieces from clumping together, and it becomes a sort of dried out short strands, almost granular in texture.”

I’m pretty sure that I didn’t follow all the rules of this challenge.  I didn’t use suet.  I used butter.  My pudding did not have a crust with filling.  It was more like a cake with fruit topping.  I did not use a traditional pudding mold.  I just used a bowl.  I did, however, steam my pudding just as instructed.  So, if I failed in all other categories, at least I did one thing right.