Sunday night I was browsing Baking by Flavor for lemon recipes, looking to do something with the three-pound bag of lemons I recently bought. Each chapter in the cookbook is dedicated to a specific flavor, so there is an entire chapter of lemon recipes in the book. But as it happens, the lemon chapter immediately follows the chapter on ginger. I happened to flip by a brownie recipe that calls for chopped ginger preserved in syrup. I immediately decided to try the brownie recipe, because I've had a pound of ginger in syrup sitting in my kitchen cabinet for months now, with no idea what I should do with it.
A while ago, I bought several pounds of crystallized ginger from King Arthur Flour, and I also bought a pound of "soft diced ginger." The online catalog describes this product as an "ultra soft... cross between crystallized and ginger in syrup." I was very surprised when my shipment arrived and the soft diced ginger came in a plastic tub, packed in syrup. I guess I was just expecting dried crystallized ginger that was softer than usual. I shoved the plastic tub of soft diced ginger to the back of a shelf and forgot about it until I saw this recipe.
The recipe calls for flour, alkalized cocoa, baking powder, ground ginger, salt, miniature chocolate chips, butter, unsweetened chocolate, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and chopped ginger preserved in syrup (drained and patted dry). The introductory text to the recipe mentions that "a dash of cardamom deepens the ginger flavor," but cardamom was not mentioned in the ingredient list or in the recipe instructions, so I left it out (and I'm not a big cardamom fan anyway).
It was a little difficult to tell when the brownies were done baking. I anticipated that the brownies would be super fudgy, because the recipe says that you have to refrigerate (or even freeze) the brownies before they will be firm enough to cut. The recipe specifies a baking time of 35-38 minutes, "or until set." At 38 minutes, the top was set, but a toothpick came out completely wet. I left the brownies in the oven another 5 minutes just to be safe, and at that point a toothpick came out covered in damp crumbs.
As it turns out, they were perfectly baked. I refrigerated the brownies overnight and they were easy to cut cleanly, so long as I rinsed and wiped my knife between each cut. They had an intense chocolate aroma and a decadently creamy and luscious texture. The ginger flavor was clearly apparent, but it was also mild and didn't have any of the heat that I normally associate with ginger. Instead, it had a surprisingly cool quality, almost like mint. The mini chocolate chips and the ginger also provided some textural interest. Really, there is nothing I can criticize about this brownie. The chocolate flavor was wonderful and could stand up to any traditional brownie; the ginger just made it something extra special. Absolutely lovely.
Recipe: "Ginger Brownies," from Baking by Flavor by Lisa Yockelson.