come together – ‘ginger milk’ cake

come together – ‘ginger milk’ cake

While working on my last post, Vanilla Malt Milk Cake, I couldn’t help thinking about the ginger milk I adored during my childhood—and I get to try again during each visit to my family in Hong Kong. It’s a Chinese dessert that consists of three simple ingredients–ginger, milk and sugar—but the magic comes from kitchen science.

Simmering, not boiling, milk is mixed with sugar, then poured into a bowl with fresh squeezed ginger juice on the bottom. The heat of the milk activates an enzyme in the ginger causing the mixture to coagulate. You can enjoy the ginger milk after it sets, about 20 minutes or chill it for later consumption.

I’ve attempted to make this dessert numerous times but with no success. I’ve concluded that one of the reasons for failure is that the whole milk in Asia is not as rich as the kind you purchase in America. I did experiment with 2% and even skim milk, but the coagulation process just didn’t work right.

I may not have had much luck reproducing ginger milk in New York but I recreated the flavor and texture in a light and airy sponge cake combined with the creamy ginger milk mousse. Childhood is just a bite away.


'Ginger Milk' Cake


Ginger Sponge Cake
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) cake flour, sifted plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
‘Ginger Milk’ Mousse
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup (2-3/8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk or whole milk, divided
  • 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-3/4 cup (14 ounces) heavy cream, divided
  • 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Canton (ginger liquor), optional
  • 1/4 −1/2 cup crystalized ginger, chopped
  • Ginger sponge cake layers
  • Ginger Milk Mousse


Ginger Sponge Cake

1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350℉. Grease two 8-by-2-inch round cake pan. Line bottom with parchment paper; grease paper. Dust pan lightly with cake flour; tap out excess.

2. Melt butter and ginger in small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes. Pour through fine strainer into 2-cup measuring cup, stir in vanilla, set aside.

3. Sift flour, cornstarch, ground ginger, cinnamon and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. Heat eggs and sugar in large mixing bowl set over saucepan with 1-inch of simmering water, stirring constantly until it reaches about 115℉ or lukewarm. Pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat on high speed until egg mixture triples in volume, about 5 minutes.

4. Warm butter in microwave, 10- 15 seconds, whisk 1 cup of egg mixture into warm butter, set aside. Sift half of flour mixture into remaining egg batter. Fold gently, with the whisk of the mixer. Repeat with remaining flour, folding until flour is no longer visible. Fold in egg/butter mixture until just incorporated.

5. Immediately divide batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake until cake starts to pull away from sides, 18-22 minutes. (Do not open oven door or cake could fall). Meanwhile, grease two cake racks.

6. Immediately loosen cake from side of pan with a paring knife and invert onto greased racks. Remove parchment and invert cake again. Let cool completely. (Cake can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for 2 days, refrigerated for 5 days).

‘Ginger Milk’ Mousse

1. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar, and salt until smooth and fully combined, set aside.

2. Sprinkle gelatin into 1/4 cup of coconut milk and let gelatin bloom for 5 minutes.

3. Add 1/2 cup of coconut milk, 3/4 cup heavy cream, and ginger, to a medium saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, bring ginger milk to a boil, remove from heat, in a steady stream, strain into yolk mixture.; whisk constantly to prevent curdling. Pour mixture back into a saucepan, and cook over medium heat until ginger milk thickens and coats the back of a spoon, stirring constantly.

4. Remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Stir in vanilla until incorporated. Pour ginger cream through fine-mesh strainer into nonreactive bowl. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap and let cool. (Refrigerate if making ahead)

5. In a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment or use a hand mixer, whisk remaining 1-cup heavy cream, superfine sugar, and Canton to soft peak. Gently fold whipped cream into ginger cream until fully incorporated.


1. Line an 8-inch cake pan with plastic wrap with overhang. Make a 3-inch tall parchment or acetate collar and place in cake pan. Place one cake layer on the bottom, spread 3/4 of the ginger milk mousse evenly on top of cake layer, top mousse with the 2nd cake layer and spread the remaining mousse on top. Smooth top with small off-set spatula, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Remove cake from refrigerator, remove plastic wrap and lift cake out of cake pan. Peel off collar and garnish cake top with chopped crystalized ginger. Serve or return to refrigerator until ready.