Guilt-less Desserts & Treats for your Family
It’s almost Christmas and I have found myself in a bit of a quandary.
You see, I have so many recipes I want to share with you before the big day to make sure that you have as many options as possible. So many in fact I could not bake for three months and still have enough to bring you two newies each week (but we all know that I can hardly go one day, let alone three months without baking!). The problem arises when I get a crazy idea in the middle of the night and have to make it straight away which adds more recipes to list and then I have to choose which ones to share first. It’s a hard choice; like choosing which one of my three babies looked the cutest at their first Christmas. (Sorry, that was a terrible segue and really just a poor excuse to share these cute photos with you)
Each year my mother’s side of the family has a Christmas together. We meet at a park in a small country town, which is the midway point for the people travelling in each direction. It’s either bloody hot, or pouring rain; this year was hot. I decided to make a character cake for lunch (I also made sausage rolls; don’t worry my kids do eat foods other than cake!) and set about researching making a 3D Snowman Cake. It was only after I made the Sweet Potato Gingerbread Sheet Cake that it occurred to me that a Gingerbread Man would be better suited to the flavours; not a snowman, and I’m so glad I did.
I can honestly say this Gingerbread Man Cake is one of my favourite cakes ever. It’s right up there with Caramel Sauce and Lemon Curd as one of my all-time favourite desserts and it’s all because of the Gingerbread Cookie Dough Frosting. The frosting is made from whipping together Coconut Cream and Gingerbread Cookie Dough, the same dough that is used as the glue for my Gingerbread Houses. It’s creamy, tastes like a cookie and smells like Christmas.
The cake is made using Sweet Potato and Ginger; two things you didn’t realise worked so well together. The Sweet Potato can’t be detected, even by my greatest spies, as the Ginger flavour balances it out so well. I have used this unusual flavour combination in many Christmas recipes, including my Christmas Pudding.
I like to freeze my layer cakes to make sure that they are structurally sound. It’s a little trick I learnt from Momofuku. I often leave the cake in the freezer overnight, finish the decorating in the morning and allow it to thaw out in the fridge during the day before serving. Because the cake layers are frozen the frosting has a chance to infuse into the cake making it soft and way too easy to eat (my Gingerbread Man Cake is missing most of his limbs!). I have made mine a three-layer cake as I used a large baking tray. If your tray is smaller than cook the cake for a few minutes longer and make a two-layer cake instead. At least one layer in either version will be made up of scrap pieces, but that won’t be noticed once the cake has been frosted and frozen.
I have used this template from Sweetapolita to cut out my gingerbread man. The cake would have easily made at least 16 slices; or in my case 16 dips of my large spoon! Feel free to decorate your Gingerbread Man Cake however you choose. We used Sultanas for the eyes, a Currant for the nose and a dried Apricot to make Lisa Rinna style lips. The buttons are glace Cherries and Coconut Flakes have been used on the edges to mimic icing. You can use lollies, homemade jellies or nuts.
Remember, if you are still struggling with healthier Christmas Baking ideas the get your own copy of my eBook ‘Mummy Made.It A Healthy Christmas’. It has over 60 festive recipes for you to choose from.
- 2/3 Cup Coconut Flour
- 1/2 Cup Almond meal
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 6 Eggs
- 1/2 Cup puréed roasted Sweet Potato (to roast; place a whole, unpeeled sweet potato in a moderate oven for 60 minutes, or until soft on the inside. Allow to cool then peel and puree)
- 1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
- 2 Tablespoons Golden Syrup/Mollases
- 3/4 Cup Milk (of choice)
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 4 teaspoons Ginger
- 1 1/3 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Cloves
- Dried fruits, nuts etc for decorating
- 1 1/2 Cups Coconut Cream (remove the lid from a tin of coconut cream/milk and place in the fridge overnight. Remove and use the thickened cream, discarding the watery remains. You may need 2 cans to make 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 2 teaspoons Maple Syrup
- 1 Cup Gingerbread Cookie Dough (see recipe below)
- This makes more than the 1 cup required so feel free to eat the rest with a spoon!
- 150 grams Almond Meal
- 100 grams Arrowroot
- 90 grams Golden Syrup
- 65 grams Dates
- 33 ml boiling water
- 1/2 Tablespoon Ground Ginger
- 50 grams Coconut oil
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons Whipped Coconut Cream or Milk
- Preheat oven to 175C/350F
- Line and grease a 32cm x 27cm baking tray (a similar size will be fine. Just make sure you'll be able to cut 2 gingerbread men out; the third layer will be made from scraps. Alternatively use a smaller baking tray and only have 2 gingerbread man layers-see notes above for template and size options)
- Sift the coconut flour, almond meal, baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl. Add the spices and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment, whisk the eggs for 5 minutes, or until fluffy.
- Add the purred sweet potato, maple syrup, milk and vanilla extract and continue to mix until combined.
- Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
- Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are incorporated – about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of mixing bowl (you may need to do this a couple of times) and beat cake batter on medium/high speed for about 1 minute so that the batter is fluffy.
- Pour the batter into the baking tray and smooth out the top. Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool before removing from the tin.
- Palace the thickened cream, vanilla and maple syrup in the bowl of a kitchen stand mixture and whisk in high until thickened. Add the cookie dough and whisk until well combined.
- Place the Cookie Dough frosting in the fridge to thicken.
- Place the dates in a small bowl and cover with boiling water.
- Allow to sit for a minimum of 20 minutes (the longer the better).
- Place the dates in the blender and process on high until a paste forms.
- Add the golden syrup and blend on high for 3 minutes.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend until combined.
- Add the coconut oil and blend on high until combined (1-2 minutes).
- Add 1 Tablespoon of cream/milk and blendy until fluffy.
- If not using immediately, store the cookie dough in the fridge but allow it to return to room temperature before using.
- Using the printed template cut out 2 complete Gingerbread man from the gingerbread sheet cake. Keep the scraps as these will be used to make the middle layer. If you have used a smaller tray (and are making a 2 layer cake) make sure you cut out 1 complete gingerbread man and use the scraps to make the other layer. These layers will be thicker than the 3 layer cake.
- Place a whole gingerbread man cake piece onto your serving tray and cover with a generous ½ Cup of Frosting.
- On top of the frosting place the scrap pieces of gingerbread cake to form the middle layer of cake. Line the pieces up with the bottom layer to ensure that the shape remains the same. Cover the middle layer with a generous ½ Cup of Frosting.
- Place the last whole gingerbread man cake piece on top of the frosting. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and put in the freezer for at least 3 hours (overnight is fine).
- Remove the cake from the freezer and cover the top and sides with the remaining frosting. Freezing the cake prevents the crumbs from mixing into the frosting and helps to set the layers.
- Decorate your Gingerbread Man Cake as you choose.
- The cake will need to defrost before serving, either in the fridge (if the temperature is warm) or at room temperature.
- The Gingerbread Man Cake needs to be refrigerated when not serving.