chocolate ginger bundt cake

I’m terribly afraid of dying. Sometimes it keeps me up at night; I imagine dreadful scenarios of tragedy that I won’t share here. In the dark I clutch my husband’s hand, making sure he’s close; in the dark I tiptoe to the little’s rooms to take an extra peek, just in case it’s my last look. I find myself whispering frequently to the sky beyond the ceiling, ‘Why do we stop here, if we’re just going to leave?’ When the dawn comes, I find myself whispering again, ‘Well, there’s one more day in front of us. Phew.’ It’s not an easy panic to work through, because, well, I’m going to die. It’s the not knowing how and when that drives me crazy.
So, then there’s this chocolate ginger cake I made. Not a great segue, I know. I love this chocolate bundt cake recipe; it is full of intense chocolate flavor and stays moist for days. After a day of making candied ginger I decided to throw some in, and I found just what I was looking for in all the spicy and the sweet. Each bite was magical: first the chocolate dark and dreamy, then the ginger sweeping in unexpected, burning for just a moment. But then the chocolate comes back to reign things in, mixing itself with the ginger to meld the flavors perfectly. The last moments are all chocolate, dear chocolate with it’s ability to still my soul, calm my heart.
And there in that brief stillness, I realized that this humble little cake showed me something about life, and death and dying.

Chocolate Ginger Bundt Cake
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Healthy Family Cookbook. I used homemade crystallized ginger which is much spicer than store bought, and I put in a scant 1/2 cup. I thought it was perfect, but you can always use more or less. Since I had homemade ginger candy, I also had some ginger simple syrup, which I brushed on top. It added a nice glossy finish, but not much else. If you don’t have ginger syrup on hand, you could dust with cocoa powder or powdered sugar, but it isn’t necessary.

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
3/4 cup [2 1/4 ounces] Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup very hot brewed coffee, plus 1/4 cup brewed coffee
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed [14 ounces] brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup crystallized ginger, chopped small

Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 cup Bundt pan.
Combine chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl. Add the hot coffee, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes to melt the chocolate. Whisk the chocolate mixture until smooth, then set aside to cool slightly, about 2 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt together.
Process the melted chocolate mixture, sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla together in a food processor until combined, about 1 minute. Pour the mixture into a large bowl.
Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the batter and whisk until just a few streaks of flour remain. Repeat twice more with the remaining flour mixture, then continue to whisk the batter until most the lumps are gone. Gently stir in the chopped chocolate and crystallized ginger.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Gently tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 45-60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then flip it out onto a wire rack. Let cake cool completely, about two hours, before slicing. Cake keeps well for several days at room temperature, covered.
  • Reply
    Tina Garfinkel
    Thursday, October 7, 2021 at 1:25 pm

    HI, would love to see an answer o the first question re: the brewed coffee – do you add the entire 1-1/4c. at once, or is the 1/4 c. added in a later step? Thanks so much, would love to make this!

  • Reply
    Saturday, September 2, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Hello, was the extra 1/4 cup brewed coffee (listed after the 1 cup very hot brewed coffee) to be mixed in with the chocolate and cocoa too? So it would be a total of 1 1/4 cup coffee mixed in with the chocolate and cocoa? Or was the 1/4 cup coffee to be added elsewhere? Thank you for your help. I would like to try this recipe.

  • Reply
    Zachary Hadley
    Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Great writing and a great recipe! I think that the combination of dark chocolate and ginger is really compelling. Now I need to work on making that homemade crystallized ginger…

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Local Milk
    Monday, October 29, 2012 at 2:05 am

    Well, as to a segue way, that chocolate cake looks like the black death in the most awesome way ever. Like a bundt cake black hole that teleports you to the next life, whatever that means. I want to make it for Halloween! With a bunch of sorghum in it. (because I have been putting it in ALL THE THINGS). Also, I think blackish looking bundt cakes are the most beautiful baked good of them all. Also also, mortality is the worst. I want to live forever. It’s like not getting to read the end of a book… I want to *know what happens*

  • Reply
    Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Thanks for your blog. I struggled with these fears a lot. I found that Kundalini yoga and meditation REALLY helps.
    The mantras are sound vibrations that actually heal your nervous system…so that you can let go of the habitual toxicity and restore vitality, peace, health.
    I practice yoga 25 minutes most days…easy to fit in because it I believe God wants me to be happy. I also drink LOTS of water and walk alot. Peace to you. Rose

  • Reply
    mila's mama
    Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 4:25 am

    I didn’t have sugared ginger but was inspired to try a combination of this recipe with your chocolate pumpkin bundt cake too. It came out very well, not the strong ginger flavor but pleasing.

  • Reply
    mila's mama
    Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 4:21 am

    Isn’t it odd how once we have children these fears we never experience develop? Is my childless 20’s I had no concerns about adventures. Now anxiety grips me anytime my husband and children must travel without me. I think my great fear is more something would happen to them and I would be left without them.

  • Reply
    Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    When I was little, I had a very wild imagination and sometimes I’ll lay still as a board and try to stop all of my thoughts to try to imagine what it’s like to be dead. Totally creepy! I try not to think too much about dying – truth be told it scares me more for the people who would be left behind than for myself…I think the best we can do is live life day by day, loving the people we love, and not worrying about the little things. The blackness of that cake, lady, it sure is striking!

  • Reply
    Melissa@Julias Bookbag
    Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 6:23 am

    Beautiful cake, beautiful post. I struggle a lot with fear….

  • Reply
    Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 12:11 am

    I understand that feeling — I wish I didn’t, but … I do. Baking helps. xx

  • Reply
    Monday, October 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    i love how the entry starts out kind of morbid (true..but still sad) and very relateable…and then it takes a turn into something happy and comforting. the photo with the little one’s hand is proof of that:) oh, and the cake looks/sounds amazeballs too!

  • Reply
    Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    I love the addition of coffee to dark, dark gingerbread; the flavor it gives is indescribable.

    I share that fear of yours, often in the opposite way though, thinking of what my life would be like if my husband and son die, and my fear is that they both are gone- poof!- at the same time and how does one cope when the entire family is taken away? When it’s me though, I keep feeling like the fear propels me to step deeper in to being present in my life, to do and say as much as possible to those I love so that I feel fulfilled when I lay down at night and not like I’ve left anything undone to regret if I don’t awaken again. It’s fear, but it’s motivation to live deeper, stronger and more grounded. Whether that’s good or bad remains to be seen. But it works for me.

  • Reply
    Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    What a beautiful cake, and beautiful words to accompany it (or is the cake accompanying the words?)! You’ve shared something that many of us feel, but are rarely brave enough to say.

  • Reply
    london bakes
    Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Oh I can relate all too well. Sometimes I’m paralysed by the fear & not knowing how the future is going to turn out. And how much of a future there will be. The last photo, with the child’s hand, though. That seems so alive to me that it makes me fears seem ridiculous. Love this.

  • Reply
    Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    The honesty of this post knocked me out. You are certainly not alone either. I think it’s a deep appreciation of all the goodness in life that makes dying sort of frightful and real in a semi-regular way. I get you on this and I’m glad that there is cake to bring some calm into your life (making things and baking in general is pretty good for that). Wish we could have some together over tea 🙂 (Some day…!)

  • Reply
    Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 3:41 am

    Sarah you are not alone. I think I’ve always been this way, but since my kids were born, I’ve been much more afraid of dying. I just try to imagine that it makes me a funny, lovable, neurotic 😉

  • Reply
    Friday, October 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Sometimes when I read your posts I want to cry because there’s so much loveliness and beauty and honesty. Love.

  • Reply
    phyllis grant
    Friday, October 5, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    beautiful! love the photos.

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