The holiday season is rife with tradition. Families have their own unique traditions, whether it’s gathering at Grandma’s to enjoy a holiday meal or singing carols together around the neighborhood with friends who live nearby.

One tradition that seems to have made it into many families’ holiday celebrations is indulging in delicious baked goods. Desserts are a big part of the holiday season, when many people relax restrictions on their diets to enjoy some of their favorite cookies and cakes.

While such delicacies are often served at dinnertime, homemade baked goods also make great gifts come the holiday season. Whether a friend or family member is a fully devoted foodie or simply a person who loves a decadent dessert, gifting homecooked baked goods is a great way to show your loved ones just how much you appreciate them.

This holiday season, give the gift of decadence by cooking up the following recipe for “Sticky Chocolate Gingerbread” courtesy of Maxine Clark’s “Chocolate: Deliciously Indulgent Recipes for Chocolate Lovers” (Ryland, Peters & Small).

Makes an 8-inch cake

2-1/3 cups dark molasses

6 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent cocoa solids), grated

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

5 ounces whole pieces preserved stem ginger, drained and roughly chopped

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, sifted (to remove lumps)

2 medium eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons milk, warmed

A pinch of salt

Extra-large crystallized ginger pieces, to scatter (optional)

A deep 8-inch square cake pan or 8 x 6 x 3-inch oval cake pan

Preheat the oven to 325 Farenheit. Grease and line the base and sides of the cake pan with nonstick parchment paper.

Put the molasses in a pan and heat gently until hot, but do not allow it to boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until melted.

Sift the flour, ground ginger and salt together in a bowl. Add the stem ginger and toss it around in the flour until every piece is coated.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, then the molasses and chocolate mixture and finally the flour mixture.

Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and gradually beat this into the batter.

Pour into the prepared cake pan, scatter with the crystallized ginger, if using, and bake for 45 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 Farenheit and bake for another 30 minutes.

If using the oval pan, cook for about 45 minutes at the higher temperature, then about 1 hour at the lower temperature, as it will be deeper.

A metal skewer inserted into the center should come out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack and let cool completely. When cold, store in an airtight container for at least a couple of days to mature and become sticky. Don’t worry if it sinks a bit in the middle — this is normal. 

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