Gingerbread is a classic holiday dessert, whether you are enjoying it in the form of gingerbread men or as a layer cake. Gingerbread is a molasses cake that is flavored with ginger and other spices for a rich, sweet cake that will warm you up on a cold winter day. Trader Joe’s introduced a Gingerbread Cake Mix for this holiday baking season, which provides a simple way to whip up a gingerbread on a moment’s notice.
The cake mix is made with powdered molasses – to get that rich molasses flavor without having to measure out any and add it yourself – and a blend of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. It also includes crystallized ginger bits, for extra ginger flavor. The mix is easy to put together, requiring the addition of an egg, oil and water. The crystallized ginger is already mixed in with the dry ingredients, so there is only one packet inside the box that you need to worry about. It bakes up quickly into thin, moist bars that smell wonderful as soon as they come out of the oven. I served these cake bars as-is, but you could finish them off with a cream cheese frosting or a bit of buttercream if you want to dress the up.
The cake is tender, with a nice molasses flavor and a satisfying dose of spice. I found crystallized ginger bits in every piece, though they weren’t quite as large as the pieces that I usually purchase to mix in when I’m making gingerbread from scratch. That said, it’s an excellent inclusion that makes this cake feel homemade. If you spice your from-scratch gingerbreads with a heavy hand, this one might not be spicy enough for you, but it’s a tasty and classic-feeling gingerbread that is a solid option for holiday baking. I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another box to keep on hand, and I would even think about baking the mix in round cake pans for an easy layer cake option.