During the holidays, diners are more likely to relax and indulge when they dine out—and less likely to skip dessert. This luxe scratch-made cake layers seasonal gingerbread with rich chocolate. Serve with a cup of espresso or a flavorful liqueur.
For the Gingerbread Layer Cake
- Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Spray three 8-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper.
- Spray the parchment.
- In a medium bowl, combine the boiling water, canola oil and baking soda; set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt; set aside.
- Using a mixer, beat butter on high speed until pale and fluffy.
- Add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy.
- Beat in molasses, grated ginger, baking soda mixture and flour mixture.
- Beat in eggs.
- Divide the batter evenly among the pans.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out with moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.
- Let cakes cool in pans set on wire racks for 15 minutes.
- Turn out cakes onto racks and let cool completely. Wrap and freeze.
For the Praline Paste
- Place the slivered almonds on a sheet of lightly greased parchment paper or a Silpat sheet.
- In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the sugar and water, cooking and swirling it constantly until the mixture turns into caramel and becomes a dark amber color, or you can go darker for a stronger flavor.
- Pour the caramel over the almonds and allow to cool completely.
- Break into pieces and, using a food processor, grind them as finely as you can until a paste forms.
For the Chocolate Praline Mousse
- In a medium bowl, combine chocolate, praline paste, salt and butter.
- In a small saucepan, bring ¾ cup of the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate mixture.
- Let it stand for one minute and then stir until melted and smooth.
- Beat the remaining chilled cream until soft peaks form and then fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture.
For the Chocolate Ganache
- In a double boiler over medium-low heat, melt the chocolate until just smooth.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream until small bubbles form, and it begins to simmer. Remove from the heat.
- Pour a third of the cream into the melted chocolate and stir until the mixture is elastic and smooth. Add another third of the cream and stir until smooth. Add the remaining cream and stir until combined.
For the Chocolate Ginger Crunch
- In a medium metal bowl, combine chocolate and praline paste. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until the chocolate is melted, and the mixture is smooth.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and corn cereal. Spread into a thin layer on a Silpat-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the candied ginger on top.
- Wrap an acetate collar around first layer of cake (with the cake turned right-side up).
- Moisten the cake with ginger syrup and pipe the mousse on top of the cake in a layer as thick as the cake. Repeat the process for second layer and then top with the last layer of cake (bottom facing up). Moisten the top layer with more syrup and top with a layer of ganache.
- Decorate with shards of the ginger crunch and candied ginger, if desired.