Gingerbread Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

trayAlmost everything that comes out of my kitchen around Christmas seems to be peppermint or peanut butter, but there are a few exceptions. These gingerbread bars, of course, contain no peanut butter nor peppermint. They are gingery, molasses goodness.

I first made these for a Christmas Eve dessert a few years back, and they were a big hit. We all liked them chilled. The cool cream cheese frosting and the slightly firm but chewy gingerbread made for a great combination. I seem to recall everyone thinking they “tasted like more” as the bars dwindled away.

The bars themselves don’t look particularly fancy or showy; they are quietly and humbly fantastic.

My kids have been asking to make gingerbread man cookies for a while, but I have actually never made them in my life. These gingerbread bars, some ginger cookies, and actual ginger bread are as close as I have gotten. I am not sure why we haven’t made the gingerbread men yet. Perhaps that will have to go on my list for this year. Does anyone have a good recipe to share?

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Gingerbread Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

For the bars

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup (3 ounces) molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • optional: gingersnap crumbs for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Line a jelly roll pan (approximately 9 x 13 x 1) with foil or parchment and spray lightly with cooking spray. Set aside. (Tip: If you don’t have a jelly roll pan, I think this would also work fine in a regular 9 x 13 baking pan.)
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Sir in egg, vanilla, and molasses. Whip until light brown, 1-2 minutes. (Tip: I love to use my digital scale for things such as molasses. I can set the bowl on the scale and just pour molasses in without having to put it in a measuring cup and then scrape it back out. Just be careful to watch the weight as you pour because you can’t easily remove extra if you put in too much.)weigh molasses
  4. Stir in remaining spices and dry ingredients until just combined. The dough will be firm like cookie dough. stiff dough
  5. Press dough evenly into prepared pan. (Tip: I like to wear a glove for pressing because the dough is a little sticky from the molasses, and I am prissy about getting my hands, especially under my fingernails, dirty.) Bake for 20-22 minutes until edges are barely starting to brown. Cool completely.
  6. For the frosting, whip cream cheese and butter together until smooth and well combined. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat again until smooth. cream cheese frosting
  7. Spread frosting on cooled bars. (Tip: I had some gingersnap crumbs left over from a recent recipe, so I sprinkled some on the bars to “fancy them up” a little.) Using the parchment or foil lining of the pan, remove bars to a cutting board and cut into squares. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. (I really like these chilled.)

Source: Lauren’s Latest

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