It is that time of year when I start pouring through my recipe files and everyone’s beautiful blogs to find inspiration for my annual holiday cookie baking. The problem is that there are just too many fabulous options and not nearly enough time to test them ALL (that and not nearly enough room in my pants to accomodate them!). I go back to some of my favorites every year, but love to add new ones into circulation.
I’d seen recipes from Martha Stewart for Iced Hermit Bars – her recipe and a handful of modified versions, and after realizing that for some reason I was quite well stocked on crystallized ginger, I thought I would give them a try. They turn out a lovely, chewy bar that packs quite a spicy punch – when I brought them into work, I got a few interesting comments about them being “not quite what I expected.” I personally liked them, but I also LOVE ginger – I can see where they aren’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea. But they would be very good with one!
Spicy Ginger Bars (also known as Iced Hermits)
Adapted from this recipe
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup chopped candied ginger, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
- 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
- 1 1/4 cups packed dark-brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons skim milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
- Make bars: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom of a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, spray with cooking spray; set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
- Beat butter on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar; mix until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in egg and yolk, and molasses. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Mix in 1/2 cup candied ginger and the dried cranberries.
- Spread dough evenly onto prepared baking sheet. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until firm, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool completely in baking sheet on a wire rack.
- Make icing: Put brown sugar, milk, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until butter has melted and sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat; whisk in vanilla and confectioners sugar. If icing is too thick to drizzle, stir in more milk, a teaspoon at a time. If icing is too thin, stir in more confectioners sugar, a teaspoon at a time. Let cool slightly.
- Drizzle bars with icing; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup candied ginger. Let stand until icing has set, about 15 minutes. Cut into 2-inch squares. Bars can be stored in single layers in airtight containers at room temperature up to 5 days