Iced Gingerbread Bars
I love the flavors of Gingerbread. Love love love. It's probably my third favorite dessert flavor, coming in close behind Lemon and Chocolate. Gingerbread itself? Honestly, I'm not sure! I can't remember the last time I ate it, or sadly, the last time I made a gingerbread house. But - that's so much work, and these bars are so much easier!
They're a bit like hermit bars, just without the hermit. No - kidding - without, the raisins or ginger chunks. They come together so quickly, and there's actually no eggs included. I've never made them using margarine instead of butter, but I'd bet a vegan version would come out pretty great.
These are soft and chewy, spiced and molasses-y, and never last long when I'm around. You can also up your game and impart some added flavor through the icing - orange extract, hazelnut extract, or even use some Bailey's liqueur instead of milk.
Adapted from AverieCooks.com
MAKES 24 bars
2 sticks butter, room temp
205g light brown sugar (1 cup)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
350g AP Flour (3 cups minus 1TB)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk, cream, or water (or a flavored liquid/liqueur)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or another extract), optional
baking spray or extra butter or shortening
Stand mixer with beater attachment
Small mixing bowl or 2c measuring cup (the latter is easier if you want to pour the icing)
Small hand whisk
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with heavy duty aluminum foil (use THIS tip!) and spray with baking spray or grease the bottom & sides with butter or shortening.
Cream 2 sticks of butter with 205g light brown sugar (1c), 2tsp cinnamon, 1tsp ginger, 1/2tsp nutmeg, and 1/2tsp cloves. Mix on medium high until fully combined, 2-3 minutes.
Add 350g AP flour (3c-1TB), 1/2tsp salt, and 1tsp baking soda, and beat on medium low to combine - the mixture will be dry and crumbly - that's okay!
Add 1/2c molasses and beat to combine fully.
Press the dough evenly into your prepared pan, making sure to press it out all the way to the edges and corners.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the sides begin pulling away and the center is just set and doesn't jiggle when you shake the pan gently. Err on the side of underbaking - if you check the bars at 25 minutes and there is still a batter-jiggle in the middle, make sure to check it again after only 2 minutes.
Let the bars cool at least 45 minutes before icing.
To make the icing, whisk 1c powdered sugar, 2tsp milk (or other liquid), and 1/2tsp extract of your choice in a small bowl or 2c measuring cup. Drizzle or pour the icing in whatever directions you'd like across the bars. No need to use it all if you just want a light touch.
Let the icing harden at room temperature, or faster in the fridge, and then cut to serve (4x6). If you're not serving the same day, I recommend freezing the block for at least 1 hour, then wrapping it in two layers of either aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and freezing until the day you want to serve them. You can defrost overnight in the fridge, and cut while they're cold.