Food

Anna Olson's gingerbread cake with white chocolate mousse turns the holiday staple into a spectacular sweet

Filled with festive spices and topped with cookies to boot, there’s no better finale to your holiday feast.

Filled with festive spices and topped with cookies to boot, there’s no better finale to your holiday feast

(Photo credit: Janis Nicolay)

Gingerbread — with its enticing aroma, crispy exterior and a centre that strikes the perfect balance between spicy and sweet — is synonymous with the holiday season. And while most of us are accustomed to enjoying it in the form of human-shaped cookies or miniature, frosting-laden homes, this recipe from Anna Olson’s new cookbook Set for the Holidays with Anna Olson proves it can be pretty spectacular in cake form, too. Olson’s take on this seasonal sweet wraps two layers of gingerbread cake in a fluffy white chocolate mousse for an impressive finale to any holiday feast. Top yours with cookies like Olson’s speculoos, this sugar-coated version, or your own go-to recipe to make your creation really stand out on this year’s dessert table.

Gingerbread White Chocolate Mousse Cake

By Anna Olson

I love a good gingerbread cake, but on its own, it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. This grand dessert is composed of two gingerbread cake layers completely surrounded by white chocolate mousse and decorated with a few speculoos cookies. The result is a gingerbread cake with a definite “wow” factor.

Ingredients

Cake:

  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon, plus more for dusting the cake
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup ginger beer, ginger ale or sparkling apple cider
  • ¼ cup fancy molasses
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 16 to 24 Speculoos Cut-Out Cookies, cut into small diamond shapes and baked without the royal icing filling, for garnish (optional)

Mousse:

  • 10 oz chopped white couverture/baking chocolate
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 tbsp unflavoured gelatin powder
  • 2 cups whipping cream, divided

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease two 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Dust the sides of the pan with flour, tapping out any excess.

For the cake, whisk together the oil, both sugars, egg, egg yolk and ginger by hand.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg. Add to the oil mixture and whisk until blended.

In a third bowl, whisk the ginger beer (or ginger ale or club soda), molasses, maple syrup and baking soda. The mixture will be frothy. Add to the batter and beat vigorously until smooth — the batter will be very liquid.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let cool in the pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes, and then turn out onto the wire rack to cool completely, keeping the parchment on them.

For the mousse, have the white chocolate ready in the bowl of a food processor or a blender.

Place the cold water in a small dish and sprinkle the gelatin on top, stirring and then letting it sit for 1 minute. Heat ¾ cup of the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the gelatin until it dissolves.

Pour the hot cream over the white chocolate and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer the white chocolate cream to a bowl to cool almost to room temperature, about 30 minutes. (If it sets up, reheat to soften it again for a smooth mousse.)

Whip the remaining 1 ¼ cups of cream using electric beaters or a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment on high speed until it holds a soft peak when the beaters are lifted.

Fold half of the whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture using a whisk (it might deflate a little) and then fold in the remaining cream, using a spatula toward the end. The mousse will be pourable.

To assemble, first peel away and discard the parchment from the baked cake layers and set the cakes aside. Lightly grease a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. A large pan is used, so that the mousse can completely surround the cake layers. Pour two-thirds of the mousse into the pan (you are assembling this upside down, so the mousse goes in first.) Gently set 1 cake layer on top, pressing it gently so that the mousse just comes up the sides of the cake (but the cake should not touch the bottom of the pan).

Pour the remaining mousse over the bottom cake layer and set the second cake layer on top, again pressing gently so the mousse just comes up the sides of the cake (the cake layers should not touch). Loosely cover and chill the cake for at least 4 hours.

To decorate and serve, remove the springform ring from the cake and peel away and discard the parchment from the sides of the mousse cake. Place a platter over the top of the cake (really the bottom) and carefully invert both the cake and the platter together. Remove the springform pan base and peel away and discard the parchment.

Sprinkle the top of the cake with a little cinnamon or arrange the speculoos cookies in a pattern. Chill until ready to slice and serve.

Notes:

  • You can store the baked gingerbread cake layers, each well wrapped, at room temperature for 2 days, or freeze them for up to 3 months. Thaw them at room temperature before you prepare the mousse. If you prefer to get a bit further ahead, store the baked and assembled cake in its springform pan for up to 2 days in the fridge, or even freeze it in the pan, well wrapped, for up to 1 month. Thaw it overnight in the fridge before unmolding and decorating.
  • If you’re looking for a nice, simple gingerbread cake to serve with just a dollop of whipped cream, bake this cake in a greased 9 × 13-inch (22.5 × 32.5 cm) pan for about 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Once cooled, cut the cake into squares and serve.

Excerpted from Set for the Holidays with Anna Olson by Anna Olson. Copyright © 2018 Olson Food Concepts Inc. Photography by Janis Nicolay. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Servings: Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) cake that serves 12-16

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