For the holidays, you can't beat home sweet home!
A casual question from a friend ("Are you thinking of having a dinner party again this year?") turned into a month or two of planning, dreaming, and finally, lots of baking which I have admittedly been recently neglecting!
When thinking of the desserts, I came across a recipe for a gingerbread spice cake which looked rich, dense, and oh-so-aromatic. I knew that I had to serve this, and was thinking of a way to plate it when I had the idea to serve them as individual pseudo-contemporary-architecture gingerbread houses.
It all starts off with a slab cake, scored and cut to make long strips:
(You can see that I should have run a knife through the batter before baking to get rid of the larger air bubbles - whoops!) Whole strips are stacked on top of each other with dark chocolate ganache between layers, and a half strip is cut on the diagonal and placed on top to form the roof:
The whole thing is then masked with more dark chocolate ganache. If you aren't adept at masking and/or are running out of ganache and need to economize, like myself at the time, you can first start off with a crumb-coat layer...
... followed by a smoother final coat, after the ganache has had a chance to set in the freezer or fridge. After the final coat, the long mega-houses can be put back into the fridge or freezer until serving.
To plate, simply slice off sections to form individual servings. Handling and cutting is always the easiest when the cake and ganache is well-frozen. Running the blade under hot water (and then drying it off on a towel quickly) between each cut ensures a nice clean edge without any crumbs or cracked ganache. Allow the cake to fully thaw before serving.
For added effect, try adding a drift of lightly-sweetened whipped cream and/or a dusting of icing (confectioner's sugar). Fresh berries or mint leaves could also be added to complete the scene.