SPICY VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHUNK GINGER MOLASSES COOKIES

  Today’s recipe is a start to a new path, a path I’m really excited to journey down when it comes to baking.  I’m not switching over to a completely different baking method, mind you- I just wanted to start including the more alternative ways you can bake, whether it’s a completely plant-based recipe, a more traditional one, or somewhere in between.  I’m always looking to open my mind and try new things, well because that’s how you learn!

When I think of ginger molasses cookies, I think of round, flat, cracked tops(much like the ginger cookies I created last year); and their texture and taste just right.  I was prepared to be challenged as I’d never veered off the path of your usual ingredients: wheat flour, eggs, milk, and butter.  And I was, indeed, challenged by it.  I read so many different articles of what I should be pairing with what and to be honest, I was about to pull every hair off my scalp.  I now have a much higher reverence for those that must bake this way due to their health or conscious; you really do sacrifice a lot of things, one of them being your product won’t always look as dazzling as the original.  But, that doesn’t always mean the taste and texture aren’t delicious, they may even be better than the original!  “All that glisters is not gold”, as Shakespeare wrote, right?

  Anyway, I tried my hardest to get these cookies posted before New Year’s Eve(and I did!).  Originally, they were to be posted the beginning of this week, but I sat down and uploaded the photos I had taken before I left for Christmas, only to find I was very displeased at how they turned out.  I spent all of Thursday revising and testing the recipe I wrote out and finally, after the fourth baking attempt, they came out as I wanted- Slight crunch around the edges, but the middle soft, chocolatey and spicy.  You’re probably thinking what made me want to put chili pepper inside a cookie.  Well, I love spicy things and chocolate, so I thought I’d give the molasses cookie a slight twist.  Also because I picked a bunch of chili peppers out of the garden this summer and let them sit in the kitchen to dry and they looked so nice, so I crushed them up and threw them in.  It goes so well with the other spices!

  It’s hard to believe that 2016 is coming to an end, I feel it was just yesterday we were all celebrating the start!  A lot has happened in these twelve short months, but I’m ready for 2017.  I’m looking forward to trying new things, things that challenge me to think, see, and achieve differently.   Like many other’s, one of my goals in 2017 is to be healthier, happier, and more responsible in the way I’m eating.  Which of course, will affect what ingredients I use in the recipes I create and post.  Hoping you have a wonderful New Year!  One that’s hopeful(the next four years may look a bit bleak here in the United States), full of positive change, love, and happiness.  xo


SPICEY VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHUNK GINGER MOLASSES COOKIES

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour

1/4 cup brown rice flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon chili pepper, ground(I used 1 dry chili pepper blended in a food processor)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance), room temp.

3/4 cup demerara cane sugar

1/2 cup blackstrap molasses

1 tablespoon finely ground flaxseed

3 tablespoons water, warm

5-ounces dark chocolate chopped into chunks

method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare one large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the ground flaxseed and water and set aside for five minutes(this is your substitute egg).  
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, salt, baking soda, and spices and whisk well; set aside.
  4.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and molasses and beat with an electric hand mixer until smooth and all the ingredients are incorporated.  Add the flaxseed and beat until combined, then add half the flour; beat until combined.  Add the remaining flour and beat until just combined.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chopped chocolate.  
  5. Using an ice cream/cookie scoop, scoop out the dough and place them 2-inches apart from each other on the prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle the tops with sugar.  Bake for 11-18 minutes until the edges are slightly darker than the center.  Cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY ORANGE TART

  I don’t know about you, but Thanksgiving quickly crept up on me this year.  I feel that was 2016 in general as everything flew by so quickly; birthdays, the seasons, holidays.  It makes me somewhat sad, but happy at the same time.  I would say Thanksgiving is somewhat bittersweet for me.  I love the food and family time(even though it can be a bit crazy at times), but it pains me to say goodbye to autumn and hello to winter, which happens to be my least favorite time of the year due to the cold.

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  Anyway, this recipe was sort of a last minute idea and something I wanted to post before I hop on a plane and head south for Thanksgiving.  It’s a deliciously tart, cranberry tart with the addition of citrus and bittersweet chocolate- two, very complementary flavors to cranberry if I do say so.  It reminded me so much of my favorite chocolate bar: dark, not-so-sweet, with crunchy pieces of dried orange peel speckled throughout each bite.  The crust is crumbly with a nutty and slightly sweet flavor.  It almost reminds me of cherry pie.

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  I will say I’ve never once liked cranberries.  Well, until recently.  The only time we’d eat them would be at Thanksgiving and they were in the form of the ever so popular canned cranberry sauce.  Incredibly sweet stuff and not at all of my liking.  But, like most things, you have to start with fresh ingredients and see if you truly like or dislike them.  I despise most anything that comes in a can now, so it’s my motto to always use fresh when possible.  I try to bake by the seasons.  And so, I found my love for cranberries when I decided to use them fresh.  The filling for this tart I could eat by the spoonful as it’s just so delicious!  While simmering away in the saucepan with the citrus, cloves, and cinnamon it lets out the most amazing scent as it floats about the house.

  Speaking of cloves, be sure to remove all of them before pouring the filling into the tart shell.  I accidently left two or three pieces inside and they made their way into my mouth.  Biting into cloves isn’t very appetizing, as they’re a bit potent, to say the least.

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CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY ORANGE TART

crust:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup super-fine almond flour

4-ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup confectioners sugar

1 large egg (+ 2 tablespoons of a smaller, slightly beaten egg), room temp.

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

cranberry-orange filling:

1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 orange slices

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks 

3 cups fresh cranberries

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon cornstarch

 

chocolate topping:

8-ounces bittersweet chocolate; chopped finely

4-ounces heavy cream

sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

 

method:

  1. With an electric standing mixer, add the softened butter, vanilla, and salt.  Cream till smooth and just combined.  Add the confectioner’s sugar and almond flour and mix on medium until just combined.  Add the flour and large egg, mix until it comes together, and add the two tablespoons of the beaten egg.  Mix on medium until the dough comes together(don’t over beat).  It should be a very soft dough.  Once finished, tightly wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours(until firm).  Once firm, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a large rectangle or circle(depending on the tart pan you’re using).  Gently roll the dough onto the rolling pin and place into the tart pan.  carefully press the dough into the pan till it’s fitted, then using a fork, poke holes all around the bottom.  Place in the refrigerator until firm again; while it’s doing so, preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C.  Once preheated, brush the tart with egg wash (1 egg + 1 teaspoon water, beaten) and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the edges shine and are slightly golden and the bottom is cooked through.  Cool completely.
  2. Bump the oven heat up to 375° F.
  3. In a medium sized saucepan, add the freshly squeezed orange juice, orange slices, cloves, cinnamon, and then the cranberries.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cranberries have popped; remove the orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and cloves.  In a small bowl add two teaspoons of water to the cornstarch and stir until combined.  Add this mixture to the cranberries and cook, stirring over medium heat until somewhat thickened.  Pour the cranberries into the cooled tart shell and evenly spread around.  Sprinkle the orange zest over the top.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and cool completely.  Once cooled, remove from tart pan. 
  4. Chop the chocolate finely and place in a bowl that holds heat well.  In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it begins to steam.  Pour over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth.  Spread around the top of the tart and let it harden.  Garnish the top with flaked sea salt or orange zest and serve.

PECAN PIE WITH BOURBON CARAMEL WHIPPED CREAM

  With Thanksgiving just a mere two weeks (plus a few days) away, I thought I’d post a classic dessert that is often found on holiday dinner tables this time of year here in the South- pecan pie.  This recipe hails from an old 1930’s church cookbook I found while walking about an antique mall not too long ago.  I adapted it a tad bit as I am not very fond of using corn syrup, so in its place, I used maple syrup.  Which, in my opinion, adds so much more flavor to the pie.  The crust is buttery and the pecans on top are crunchy while underneath is perfectly gooey; combined with the boozy caramel whipped cream, the entirety of it all is delicious.  Like other pies, this one did not last long in my home.

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I really love finding such things in antique malls or thrift stores.  The pile of church cookbooks sitting in small corners of such places is often neglected.  But they can be little treasures, really, especially the really old ones.  You don’t know what you’re going to get from them as it’s a collection of recipes from various people of various heritage. Each person contributed one recipe they deemed as a favorite that was passed down to them from generation to generation.  This cookbook I bought has many interesting recipes inside(some advertisements as well that I can’t help but chuckle at; oh, how far we’ve come!) which had me researching the ones I wasn’t familiar with.  The recipes range from fattigmann, rødgrød, and vanillekipferl; to blushing bunny, chicken cacciatore, and stuffed eggplant.  Then you have American classics like apple crisp, this pecan pie, and many others.

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PECAN PIE WITH BOURBON CARAMEL WHIPPED CREAM

pie crust:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

5-8 tablespoons ice-cold water

pie filling:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup dark maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs

2 1/2 cups pecan halves

 

for the caramel

2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 tablespoon bourbon

caramel whipped cream:

1/2 cup heavy cream, cold

1/4 cup bourbon caramel 

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

pinch of salt

METHOD:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.  Add the cold butter in cubes and using a pastry blender or food processor, blend it into the flour till it’s crumbly(crumbles should be pea-sized).  Push the mixture to one side of the bowl and add 3 tablespoons of ice-cold water to the other side.  Using a fork, gently toss the flour into the water.  Add more water by the tablespoon when it becomes dry.  Repeat this until the dough comes together and all the flour is incorporated; it should be a soft, moist dough when complete.  Using your hands, shape it into a disk and loosly wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate for 25-30 minutes; meanwile, preheat the oven to 350°F.   Once the dough has firmed up some, place it on a lightly floured surface and roll it until it’s about 10-inches in diameter.  Gently wrap the dough around the rolling pin and unravel onto a 9-inch pie tin.  carefully press the dough into the pan using your hands and then finish by crimping the edges however you would like it to look.  Place the crust in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  2.  In a medium sized saucepan, melt the tablespoon of butter; add the brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, and vanilla.  Whisk over medium-low heat until warm(not hot).  Slightly whisk the eggs together and add to the sugar.  Whisk until all is combined.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust and sprinkle on all the pecan halves.  Brush the crust with egg wash(1 egg + 1 tablespoon water)  if you would like it browned.  Bake for about an hour to an hour and 40 minutes.  It will be done when tapped with a spoon and the top is hard.  Cool completely and serve with whipped cream.  

for the caramel and whipped cream:

  1. In a small saucepan, add the water and sugar.  Whisk over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved, once the sugar is dissolves stop whisking and watch the mixture very closely for the next 5-10 minutes.  It should start to turn a light amber, when it does so, quickle remove from heat and stir in the tablespoon of butter.  Once the butter has melted, slowly stream in the cream and stir.  Heat the bourbon until warm and stir into the caramel.  Place the mixture in the refrigerator until cold. 
  2. Place a medium sized mixing bowl in the freezer along with a whisk that attaches to an electric mixer.  Chill for 5 minutes.  Once chilled, add the cold cream, caramel, and powdered sugar.  Whip until soft peaks form.  Serve atop the pie.  

GINGER SPICE LAYER CAKE WITH APPLE BUTTER MASCARPONE FROSTING

  The Barley and sorghum fields have been harvested and the {once} green, rolling hills of Northern Virginia are now brown and withered; meanwhile the bronze, red, and yellow hues from the hickory, beech, and red maple trees are scattered about the mountainside and valleys, creating a fiery picturesque scene.  Dotting the sides of the road are small farm stands selling freshly picked apples by the bushel, locally made ciders by the jug, mason jars filled with jelly of all kinds, and honey.  The air is crisp with the pleasant scent of burning wood and chimney smoke here and there- Oh, there are hundreds of things I could write about this beautiful time of the year, as well as the scenes and feelings felt within it.  It’s already passing by so quickly.  Soon all the trees will be bare and it will be brutally cold once again.

  But to every season there is always a downside, to me that downside is the withering of all the lovely flowers.  Flowers are a very crucial part of my blogging as they are practically the only ‘props’ that I use.  Just when I was saddened by not having any flowers to decorate with, I went on a walk around my neighbor’s farm and found a lone pink rose in one of the garden beds.  It was laden with rain droplets and was perfect in every way; alongside the rose were the prettiest purple mums.  In the end, I ended up smiling as it worked out.  But, pretty soon I won’t be so lucky.

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  As you can see if you scroll through my recent posts I’ve been doing a lot of baking with apples.  I don’t think I’ll ever tire of baking with them and I’ll be saddened when the season ends.  Usually I would make my own products using apples as that’s something I like doing instead of buying it pre-made from a supermarket, but I was really anxious to bake this cake that’s been on my mind for quite some time(and was unable to bake as I was away from my kitchen); so, once I got home I made my way to one of the many farm stands in my area that was selling their locally made apple products.  I found the most delicious apple butter and it happened to be made by the local Lions Club members.  Every year they go out and pick apples from the orchards nearby and dedicate an entire day of their time in the kitchen of a community cannery making the apple butter.  They can a thousand or so jars of it and sell it around the county!  Even though I didn’t have time to make my own apple butter, I still got to use it fresh(with local apples, too).

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  My absolute favorite part about this cake?  Well, that would have to be the frosting.  I really wanted something delicious that wasn’t your mundane American buttercream, so I played with it a bit and added mascarpone cheese and a custard that was flavored with that delicious apple butter I bought.  It’s like a hybrid of American and German buttercream(and it’s oh so good).  It’s smooth to the palate when eaten and it spreads beautifully!  In the layers are the spices of fall(as I call them), a hint of vanilla, and for that tender and moist crumb:  more apple butter.

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*Majority of measurements used is in metric units.


GINGER SPICE LAYER CAKE WITH APPLE BUTTER MASCARPONE FROSTING

cake

175 grams unsalted butter, room temperature

500 grams granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 large fresh eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup local apple butter

250 grams cake flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

312 grams milk, room temperature

 

frosting

2 large fresh egg yolks

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/3 cup + 3 tablespoons milk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/3 cup apple butter

8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

dash of ground cloves

pinch of salt

method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and line(with parchment) three, 8-inch cake pans.
  2. In an electric standing mixer with whisks attached, combine the sugar, butter, and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 7-8 minutes until light and fluffy.  Meanwhile in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, spices, baking powder, and baking soda until combined.  Set aside.  Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the eggs; beating one at a time until just combined(about 10 seconds each egg).  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Add the apple butter and half of the flour mixture and half the milk.  Beat on medium until just combined; scrape down the bowl once more and add the remaining milk and flour, beat till just combined.  
  3. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 23-25 minutes.  Check for doneness at 23 minutes using a toothpick; if it comes out clean it’s done, if not, bake 2 more minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.  Let the cakes rest in their pans for 10 minutes, then using a sharp knife, gently loosen the cakes from around the edges of the pan.  Invert onto wire racks to cool completely, about one hour.
  4.  Once cooled, assemble the cake.  Place the first layer flat side down on your cake board/plate/stand and add about 3/4 cups of the frosting.  Spread around with an offset spatula, then add the second layer, flat side facing up.  Add 3/4 more of the frosting, spread; then place the third layer, flat side facing up.  Add the remaining frosting to the top of the cake and around the sides(it’s a naked cake so there will be a very, very little frosting for the edges).

frosting:

  1. Place a small mixing bowl in the refrigerator for later use.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often so it doesn’t burn.  Remove from heat and stir in the apple butter, let it sit for five minutes(it will look very grainy, so don’t freak out!).  Using a fine mesh strainer/sieve, strain out the mixture over a bowl to catch the liquid.  Discard the pulpy stuff and set the liquid aside.
  3. Create a double boiler by filling a medium-sized pot with a few inches of water, then place a heatproof bowl large enough to fit on top of the pot without touching the water.  Bring the water to a slow simmer over medium-low heat then add the egg yolks and sugar to the bowl; stir with a whisk until the sugar dissolves and egg yolks look a bit pale.  Continue to whisk the eggs, then slowly stream in the milk mixture.  Whisk constantly till the mixture is thick, this may take a few minutes.  Once the mixture has thickened, immediately remove the bowl from atop the pot of water and pour the custard into the chilled bowl.  Again, whisk frivolously until the mixture is cool to the touch.  
  4. In an electric mixer with beaters/whisks attached, add the soft butter and mascarpone cheese.  Beat on medium speed until combined and smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, salt, and custard and beat on medium-high until the mixture is combined and has become light in color and quite volumized, about 2 minutes.

PUMPKIN CAKE WITH GINGER STREUSEL AND CRÈME ANGLAISE

  Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer,
Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing,
Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects,
Ceaseless, insistent.

  The grasshopper’s horn, and far-off, high in the maples,
The wheel of a locust leisurely grinding the silence
Under a moon waning and worn, broken,
Tired with summer.

  Let me remember you, voices of little insects,
Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled with asters,
Let me remember, soon will the winter be on us,
Snow-hushed and heavy.

  Over my soul murmur your mute benediction,
While I gaze, O fields that rest after harvest,
As those who part look long in the eyes they lean to,
Lest they forget them.

  • Sara Teasdale, “September Midnight”

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  I was waiting until it was ‘officially’ fall to start baking with pumpkin; no matter how fall-ish it felt near the end of summer, I couldn’t get myself to use pumpkin just yet.  My supermarket just started selling local pumpkins this past week and that’s when I decided it was time to use them.  So, I welcomed the new season with a simple pumpkin cake, garnished with a nutty streusel that uses fresh, minced ginger root for flavor.  And of course, you can’t have a cake without some pourable, sugary topping, so I opted with delicious crème anglaise.  It went exceptionally well with the cake!

  When baking, I almost always make my own added ingredients when possible, instead of buying pre-made or canned ingredients.  So I used fresh pumpkin purée when I made this recipe.  You don’t have to use it fresh, though, canned pumpkin purée will work fine.  If you want the full flavor, I highly reccomend using fresh pumpkin purée.  It’s very simple to make.

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  On another note, this was my first actual styled shoot.  Most the time when I’m baking and it comes time to photograph the thing(s) which I just baked, I find myself rushing the entire process when I shouldn’t be; so I end up throwing things together onto a table with the subject and don’t pay close enough attention to the light I’m in.  I decided ahead of time that I wasn’t going to do that with this shoot.  So, I planned it all out instead of doing it on a whim like I usually find myself doing.  I was quite pleased with how the photos turned out and I didn’t spend nearly as many hours editing them, per usual.  

  I also went more with neatness.  I tend to be very messy when it comes to the props in my photographs, which are almost always flowers, dried or alive.  You see, I don’t have that big of a prop closet, but what I do have is an abundance of flowers and greenery as I’m a hoarder with those things and love drying them for later use or for decoration.  My prop closet is pretty much a small cardboard box filled with tinkerings I’ve found here and there while rummaging through antique stores(I rarely ever purchase brand new props, I like them old).  It’s a never ending learning process photography is, and the main key is patience.  Something I lack more often than not, but am learning to work on.  

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PUMPKIN CAKE WITH GINGER STREUSEL AND CRÈME ANGLAISE


pumpkin cake

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp.

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs, room temp.

1 cup fresh or canned pumpkin purée

1/4 applesauce 

ginger streusel

2 ounces unsalted butter, cold and cubed

2 ounces granulated sugar

3 ounces all-purpose flour

3 ounces chopped pecans

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 ginger root, minced

crème anglaise

1 cup whole milk

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 large egg yolks

2 vanilla bean pods

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and line (with parchment paper) two loaf pans and set aside. 
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices; whisk till combined and set aside.
  3. In another (large) mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar.  Using am electric hand mixer or standing mixer with whisks attached, beat the butter and sugar till fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Add the pumpkin purée, applesauce, and half of the flour.  Mix on medium speed till just combined, then add the remaining flour.  Again, mix till just combined. 
  4.  Divide the batter equally amongst the two loaf pans and spread around evenly in the pan(s).  Sprinkle with the streusel mixture.  Place in the preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes.  Check for doneness with a toothpick at 40 minutes; if it is clean it’s done, if not, bake for 3-5 more minutes.
  5.  Once the cake is done, let them sit in the pans for 10 minutes.  Use a sharp knife to loosen the cake from around the edges of the pan then gently invert onto wire racks to cool.  You can eat it cool or warmed.  Once it reaches the desired temperature, cut into slices, then drizzle on the crème anglaise with a spoon onto the individual slices. 

streusel:

  1.  Wash, peel, and mince the ginger root and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and cinnamon.  Cut in the cold butter cubes using a pastry blender or pulse in a food processor.  The pieces should be large and crumbly.  Add the nuts and freshly grated ginger and stir with a spoon till combined.  Sprinkle on top the cake before baking.

crème anglaise:

  1. Fill a large pot with ice and water a few inches deep.  Place a thin mixing bowl in the center of it with strainer resting on top.  Set next to your stove for later use.
  2. In a medium sized saucepan, add the milk.  Split open the two vanilla bean pods and scrape out the seeds and put them into the milk along with the pods.  On medium-low heat, bring the milk to a simmer.  Meanwhile, combine the sugar and yolks, whisk till well blended.  Once the milk has come to a simmer, remove from heat also removing the vanilla bean pods.  
  3. While whisking the yolks, slowly stream in half of the hot milk into the yolks.  Once they’re combined, gently add the yolk mixture back into the remaining milk, continuing to whisk.  Return the mixture to medium heat and continue whisking until thickened.  Be sure the mixture does not boil, or the yolks will curdle.  It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  To test the thickness, run your finger along the back of the said spoon after dipping it in the creme, if the streak remains without the creme running back into it, it is done.  Turn off the heat and pour the creme into the strainer that is resting on top the mixing bowl in the ice water.  Once strained, continue to whisk the mixture till it’s cool to touch.  Cover and place in the refrigerator till ready to use.   Serve with the cake.