unsweetened cocoa powder 1 cup pitted prunes -- chopped
1/2 cup Armagnac or cognac
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root -- minced
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable shortening -- room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar -- firmly packed
1 cup unsulfured molasses
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
4 large eggs -- lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup crystallized ginger -- chopped
sliced kumquats as a garnish creme fraiche or sour cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch springform pan and dust with cocoa powder, knocking out excess.
In a skillet cook prunes, Armagnac or cognac, and gingerroot over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until almost all liquid is evaporated and remove skillet from heat.
Into a bowl sift flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream shortening. Add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add molasses in a stream, beating until combined well. Add flour mixture, coffee, eggs, and vanilla, beating until just combined. (Batter may separate at this point.) Reserve 1 T. crystallized ginger and stir remainder into batter with prune mixture.
Turn batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with reserves giner. Bake gingerbread in oven 1 hour 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean, and cool on a rack 1 hour. (Gingerbread will fall slightly in center.) Gingerbread may be made 2 days ahead and kept covered at room temperature.
Garnish gingerbread with kumquats and serve warm or at room temperature with creme fraiche or sour cream.
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