Many years ago my Mom and I went out to eat at a restaurant back home in Michigan. It was a place known for having a wide selection of really good desserts. I don't remember much about the dinner menu, but I do remember their grasshopper and mud pies. I believe it was during the summer when my Mom decided to order warm gingerbread cake with whip cream topping for dessert. I thought it was an odd offering for the summer and wondered how much they were selling during that time of year. Would it even be fresh? The waitress promptly brought my Mom her dessert. It was drowning in whip cream. Then my Mom took a bite and her face turned to a very confused expression. "I think this might be meatloaf", she said. It was the "this might be" part of the sentence that threw me off and I didn't totally believe it. I mean, how could it be meatloaf? Either it is gingerbread, or it is meatloaf, how could it "might be" meatloaf? My mom encouraged me to take a bite, but if it really was meatloaf smothered in whip cream, well I didn't want any part of it. So, we sat and stared at it for a while. The whip cream began to melt, finally I agreed to smell it. One whiff and there was no question that my Mom had been served meatloaf with whip cream for dessert. The waitress was really embarrassed when we told her she served up meatloaf for dessert. Turns out the restaurant kept the meatloaf and the gingerbread cut in similar sized cubes right next to each other in the freezer. She just happened to grab the wrong one, placed it in the microwave and served it up as dessert. So, now anytime someone mentions meatloaf, we have to ask if it was served with whip cream. I don't really remember what happened after the waitress took the meatloaf away. I do know we laughed until we had tears in our eyes, but I don't remember actually ever eating the gingerbread. So, I went in search of a recipe for what that gingerbread should have been like had it actually been gingerbread. This one from Nigella Lawson is exactly what I imagined warm gingerbread cake with whip cream should taste like...when it is not meatloaf!
adapted from Nigella Christmas
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup packed soft dark brown sugar
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 2 teaspoons warm water
1 cup whole milk
2 eggs, beaten to mix
2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 9 x 9 inch pan with parchment paper.
In a saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat along with the sugar, corn syrup, molasses, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
Take off the heat, and add the milk, eggs and dissolved baking soda in its water.
Measure the flour into a bowl and pour in the liquid ingredients, beating until well mixed. It will be a very liquid batter.
Pour it into the prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes until risen and firm on top. Do not overcook as it will be nice and sticky if you don't.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the gingerbread cool in the pan before cutting into 16 squares, or however many you like. Serve with whip cream or plain.