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The idea for this cake started with a mad scheme to shellack the case base with chocolate and marshmallows, then outfit it with lightning bolt-like shards of brittle and other Halloween-inspired over-the-top additions. And then I made the cake and took a bite. It was pillowy, moist, and tender, with autumnal flavors that lingered well after the last crumb had been cleaned off the plate with a decisive jab of an index finger. This cake didn't need to be tricked out. It would have been a waste to draw attention away from it with toppings, and so it lies under only a light dusting of confectioners' sugar.
Though this recipe arrives during the Halloween season, it is a cake well-suited for any of the upcoming holidays. It's made warm with allspice, cinnamon, and cloves. Freshly grated ginger cleanly cuts through and comes to the forefront of the cake. Along with bittersweet, heady molasses and pumpkin puree, this becomes something more than the run-of-the-mill dusty spice cake. It is much more nuanced, delicate, and decidedly grown up.