Jennifer Giblin created elegant desserts at New York City's Eleven Madison Park and Tabla. Now at Blue Smoke, she excels at homespun recipes like this gingerbread roll. A riff on a bûche de Noël, it combines tender ginger cake with a tangy cream-cheese filling.
5 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
3/4 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 ounces crème fraîche
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
Two 4-inch cinnamon sticks
8 whole cloves
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons apple cider
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Toasted pecans and dried cranberries, for garnish
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 325°. Line a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until pale, about 2 minutes. Add the molasses, 1/4 cup of the brown sugar and the fresh ginger and beat until combined. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, allspice, black pepper and salt. Beat the dry ingredients into the egg yolk mixture until combined.
In a clean bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar and beat until firm and glossy. Fold the egg whites into the batter until no streaks remain. Spread the batter onto the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
Sprinkle the cake with the remaining 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Run the blade of a sharp knife around the edge of the pan. Cover the cake with a clean kitchen towel and top with a large cutting board. Holding the pan, towel and cutting board, invert the cake onto the cutting board. Remove the pan and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let the gingerbread cool completely.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water; let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Microwave at high power until the gelatin is melted, about 10 seconds. In a clean bowl, beat the cream cheese with the cinnamon and melted gelatin until smooth. In another bowl, whip the crème fraîche with the confectioners' sugar until still. Fold the cream cheese into the crème fraîche.
Spread the filling evenly over the entire surface of the cake. Starting at a short end, roll up the cake jelly roll–style. Wrap the gingerbread roll tightly in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of brown sugar and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Add the cinnamon sticks and cloves. Whisk in the rum and cider and remove from the heat. Let the butter-rum sauce steep for 1 hour. Discard the cinnamon sticks and cloves.
Unwrap the gingerbread roll and transfer it to a plate; dust lightly with confectioners' sugar. Cut into slices and bring to room temperature. Garnish the gingerbread roll with the pecans and cranberries and serve with the butter-rum sauce.
The finished roll can be refrigerated overnight. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; reheat gently before serving.
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