I grew up with a lot of flavorful holiday traditions. But, the treat that I most associate with the Christmas season is gingerbread cookies. My mom made batches of gingerbread dough each year. Cookies need master decorators and my younger sister and I were eager to fill that role. We generously adorned our cookies with decorator sugar, cinnamon dots, raisins, nonpareils and various sprinkles. Incidentally, while we decorated, the kitchen floor became embellished with plenty of sprinkles as well. Each year, our enthusiasm began to fade as we approached our eleventh pan of gingerbread men, women, stars, bells and reindeer waiting to be decorated. Some of those later cookies just got a little sugar thrown haphazardly at them. But you know what? They tasted great either way.
Now my children, ages 13, 11, and 8, partake in the gingerbread tradition with their grandma. There is still lots of pre-decorating anticipation, waning enthusiasm after the eleventh pan, and plenty of post-decorating sprinkles on the floor. The end reward has also remained the same—platefuls of soft, spiced cookies for all to enjoy.
While gingerbread has always been a big holiday treat in my family, I never gave it a thought during the rest of the year. (This might explain why my molasses lid is always fused shut when I need it in December). But last summer, my daughter, niece and I studied the time periods of their favorite historical dolls. We created crafts and ate foods customary during those times. While doing food research, gingerbread popped up quite often, from colonial to Victorian times. Gingerbread was a treat enjoyed throughout the year. We baked some tasty gingerbread in August and came to the conclusion that snowflakes and Burl Ives are not necessary to enjoy a treat that has been loved for hundreds of years.
The holiday season is not quite upon us (unless you are a mass market retailer and have had decorations up since Labor Day weekend.) But, it’s not too early to start your holiday baking. Easy Gingerbread Bars are a great choice. They are soft bars with a light ginger flavor. They are very versatile because you can cut them as bars or use cookie cutters and cut out shapes once they are cool. The bars are very easy to prepare and a terrific choice for people who want to avoid cut-out cookies.
We were hungry for a baked treat at our house and excited that these bars require only 10 minutes of prep time. It’s always a bonus when your kitchen is already stocked with the necessary ingredients. This recipe requires sugar, butter, 1 egg, molasses, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and decorator sugar.
While the oven heats to 350 F., combine the sugar, butter, egg, and molasses in a large bowl.
Beat at medium speed until the mixture is creamy. (Note to Santa: An upgraded mixer would be lovely!)
Now, add the baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and flour and beat on Low speed until the dough is well mixed.
Next, plop the dough onto an ungreased 15x10x1-inch jelly-roll pan and press it down. This part is fun for kids. My daughter, McKenna, assisted.
More fun! Sprinkle the dough with decorator sugar. McKenna combined red, green, and white sugar. Be as creative as you like.
Bake the bars for 16 to 20 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow the bars to cool. We waited about 20 minutes and then began to cut miniature gingerbread boys and girls. We also cut some into standard square and rectangle-shaped bars.
Here is the end result. Many bars remained in the pan. This recipe makes 48 small bars.
You will end up with some leftover edge pieces. They taste delicious crumbled up over vanilla ice cream. Just ask my son---he ate 3 bowls.
Easy Gingerbread Bars are beyond delicious! The soft texture and slightly spicy flavor are a perfect combination. After we baked one pan, my kids wanted to repeat the process. This time, I saved some to freeze until it’s closer to Christmas. My kids will still decorate standard gingerbread cut-outs with their grandma, but I plan to keep my molasses in frequent use by making these bars during the holiday season and throughout the year.
Do you have a favorite holiday season bar? Give Easy Gingerbread Bars a try and make sure to come back and rate and review the recipe.
Planning for Thanksgiving dinner? Next Alex will share a great holiday side dish.
Tami is paid to write for the Land O’Lakes Recipe Buzz® Blog.