Recipe: Ginger cakes with dried fruit and beer compote

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Servings: Makes 14 little cakes

Note: From Dahlia Solomon at Campanile. Serve with Negro Modelo Dark Ale, Rochefort #10, or Dogfish Head India Brown Ale.

Compote 2 1/2cups plus 2 tablespoons Negra Modelo Dark Ale, divided

1 tablespoon whole yellow mustard seeds

1 cup sugar

1(1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled

1 vanilla bean

4 cups mixed dried fruit, sliced thin, any combination, for example:

1/2cup Calimyrna figs

1/2cup apricots

1/2cup peaches

1/2cup Italian prunes

1/2cup cherries

1/4cup each of currants and blueberries (leave small fruits whole)

2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Have the beer at room temperature. In a small sauté pan, lightly heat 2 tablespoons of the beer plus the mustard seeds. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and set aside.

2. Place the sugar and ginger in a 2-quart risotto pan. Open the vanilla bean pod and scrap out the seeds. Add the pod and seeds to the sugar and ginger. Add a bit of water (about 2 tablespoons) to moisten until the sugar mixture is the consistency of wet sand.

3. On high heat, cook the sugar mixture until it is a medium caramel color, tilting and swirling the pan to ensure even color. Once a medium caramel color is reached, take the mixture off the heat and carefully add the rest of the beer. Return to high heat, and cook to melt the sugar.

4. When the sugar has melted and the mixture begins to boil, start adding dried fruit one at a time, beginning with the firmest first and cooking each until slightly fork-tender, stirring carefully and making sure that each time a fruit is added to the pan, the mixture is returned to a boil before another is added. After all the fruit has been added, remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Remove the ginger and the vanilla bean pod. Add the mustard seed and the beer in which they were steeped. Set aside.

Ginger cakes 2 1/4cups pastry flour

1/2teaspoon salt

1/2teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2teaspoon ground cloves

1/2teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

1/4cup granulated sugar

1/2cup melted butter, plus 2 tablespoons for brushing molds

3/4cup molasses

1 tablespoon coffee extract

1/2cup dark brown sugar

1/2cup milk, at room temperature

1/2cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1 large egg, at room temperature

Dried fruit compote

Crème fraîche

1. Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cocoa powder and sugar into a medium bowl. Make a well in the center.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together half a cup of the butter, plus the molasses, coffee extract, brown sugar, milk, buttermilk and egg. Pour the wet ingredients into the well in the dry ingredients, and whisk together, starting from the center and working your way out, until smooth.

3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Using small fluted brioche molds (or substitute muffin tins), lightly brush each with the remaining melted butter. Using a one-third cup measure, fill each mold with cake batter. Place the filled molds on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheet to ensure even baking. When the cakes are done, allow them to cool in the molds, and then simply tap them out of their molds.

4. Serve hot with fruit compote and crème fraîche.

Each serving: 460 calories; 5 grams protein; 84 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams fiber; 12 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 46 mg. cholesterol; 164 mg. sodium.

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