Spiced Gingerbread Bars

12 Days of Sweets: Day 7

My husband is a huge fan of chewy molasses cookies around the holidays. I can’t say I blame him – they do have a certain appeal with seasonal flavors and the soft texture. I enjoy a bit more spice to my cookies and often end up making gingerbread instead because of the bite from the ginger and spicy aroma they give off when baking. I don’t always have time to rollout and cut individual cookies which is why I love this gingerbread bar recipe. It helps that this is the best cinnamon cream cheese frosting I have ever tasted. Seriously, it’s worth the effort.

This dough is beautiful like gingerbread when it comes together. The tricky part is that it’s extremely sticky. When I put it in the baking pan I use a well oiled piece of wax paper to push it evenly into all the corners. The 9 x 9 baking pan turns these into thick chewy cookie bars – almost like dense brownies. If you want the cookie part thinner then you can use a 9 x 13 pan instead; you will just need to drop the baking time to about 20 minutes.

Allowing the bars to completely cool before frosting helps the icing to not melt. Because it’s base is cream cheese and butter you risk the frosting melting into the cookie bars if it becomes too warm. After frosting I lift the bars out of the baking pan and cut into squares for serving. Because these are on the thicker side I cut them smaller. The chewy, spicy cookies pair well with the fluffy cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Refrigerate leftovers – if you have any!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of butter (one stick)
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup of molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper

Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese – softened
  • 4 tablespoons of butter – softened
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Oil a 9 x 9 baking pan and set aside.
  3. Cream together butter, sugars, molasses, vanilla and eggs until smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder and spices.
  5. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet mixture scraping down the sides of the bowl often.
  6. Pour batter into baking pan and spread evenly.
  7. Bake for about 35 minutes or until a knife comes back out clean.
  8. Allow gingerbread bars to cool.
  9. Slowly cream together cream cheese, butter, milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon and powdered sugar until smooth.
  10. Once completely cooled, frost gingerbread bars with cream cheese frosting and top with sprinkles.
  11. Enjoy!

Due to the nature of the frosting leftovers must be refrigerated.

A 9 x 13 baking pan May be used in place of the 9 x 9. Drop baking time down to 20 minutes, checking often.

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