Gingerbread Bars with Hard Sauce Glaze

By • October 2, 2011 • 41 Comments

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Author Notes: Once the days shorten and the weather cools, I crave gingerbread. But I don’t care much for gingerbread that’s like cake, so I figured I’d start with a recipe for a bar, perhaps like a blondie, and then substitute molasses for some of the sugar, and add my favorite gingerbread spices. Then I stumbled on Mrs. Rombauer’s “Molasses Brownie” in the 1943 edition of The Joy of Cooking. I like to add a bit of baking chocolate to my molasses cookies – not enough to notice a chocolate flavor, but enough to deepen the flavor and give it just the slightest bitter edge – so I played with the Molasses Brownie recipe to create these gingerbread bars. I use less chocolate and a bit less molasses, substitute brown sugar for white and, of course, add ginger and a good bit of nutmeg. I find cinnamon distracting in gingerbread, so I don’t use it here, but you can add some, of course, if you like. If you decide to use unsweetened chocolate, please be warned: it gives a much stronger bitter edge to the bars, given how relatively little sweetener there is in the batter. Some people like that, others don't. If baking these for a crowd, I strongly recommend using a sweetened dark chocolate. Mr. T suggested I add a fruit brandy to the glaze which, with a bit of melted butter in it, ends up tasting all the world like hard sauce. Enjoy!! ;o)AntoniaJames

Makes one 8" x 8" pan

  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick, or four ounces)
  • 1 ½ ounces dark, lightly sweetened chocolate (or unsweetened, for a more bitter edge)
  • 1/3 cup regular molasses (not light, not blackstrap) (See note below.)
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons ground ginger, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of cloves
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional . . . I don’t use it)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • *** For the glaze ***
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 – 2 tablespoon apple brandy (or other brandy, or apple cider)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter an 8” x 8” baking dish.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together over low heat (or do what I do, which is to put them in a Pyrex one-cup measure and microwave at about 40% for 2 -3 minutes).
  3. Put the melted chocolate and butter into a medium bowl with the molasses and brown sugar. Stir well to combine.
  4. Combine the dry ingredients.
  5. Gently beat the eggs and stir into the wet ingredients, with the vanilla.
  6. Add the dry ingredients and stir just to combine. Do not overbeat.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan.
  8. To make the glaze, press the confectioners’ sugar through a fine sieve to remove the lumps. Stir in the melted butter until you have a uniform paste. Add one tablespoon of the brandy, and stir well. Add the rest, a teaspoon or a two at a time, stirring well to incorporate, until you reach the desired consistency. I like it really thin so you just get a slick of sweet flavor across the top of the gingerbread. If you want a bit less brandy taste, dilute the brandy with water.
  9. Enjoy!! ;o)
  10. N.B. You can use blackstrap molasses if you like, but in that case I strongly urge you to use a sweetened chocolate, as the bitter notes with unsweetened baking chocolate will almost certainly overwhelm this. ;o)
Jump to Comments (41)

Tags: holiday

Comments (41) Questions (1)

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over 2 years ago ees

simply the best!

Sausage2

almost 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

How on earth did I miss these before?! AJ, these look simply amazing! They are saved and going to be one of our Christmas cookies this year.

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I made these for the cookbook party I hosted yesterday. There are amazingly delicious. They were gobbled up. I made the glaze with Poire William and that subtle note of pear in the glaze was delicious. Thank you AJ for another wonderful recipe. I kept a little for myself and polished them off today. I really think these are outstanding.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you so much! I am honored beyond words that you would make these for your FOOD52 book party, and am so happy that everyone liked them. I love it that you used the Poire William, as that is what Mr. T suggested we use when I made the glaze for our first batch! We have used Clear Creek Apple Brandy, as that's the closest that I have on hand, and loved it. I'll have to get some Poire William and try it. Thanks again. ;o)

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Is the brown sugar packed? I am guessing since you didn't say it is that it's not but just want to make sure. Thanks!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Actually, yes, it should be packed. Thank you for catching that. I'll edit it to clarify. ;o)

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

AJ, can I make the bars a couple of days ahead of time and freeze them. I will glaze the day of the party but have so much to do I wanted to try to make these in advance if I can. I would freeze whole, defrost and glaze the day of the party. Thanks.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Actually, I don't know. I haven't tried it. I think I will experiment with it, though, because I'd really like to know. Mr. T loves these, but doesn't need a whole batch at a time. Stay tuned. ;o)

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you so much, I will wait to see what your results are. I could just bake them the day before the party but thought it would make my life easier to make them a few days ahead if I can. Thank you.

Winnie100

about 3 years ago WinnieAb

Wow these look so delicious!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, WinnieAb! ;o)

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about 3 years ago ThreeHawaiianGirls

Just made this today, the flavor is fantastic! I was not expecting such a punch of flavor, it is exactly what I was looking for: deep flavors with denser texture.Thank you for the recipe, it is one I am sure to make again and again. I doubled it to make a 9 x 13 pan, because 8 x 8 is not enough! :)

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks so much for letting me know, especially about doubling. What kind of chocolate did you use? I've edited the headnote to warn people that going with unsweetened produces a distinctive bitter "edge." (Some people love it, others don't . . . . It's a decidedly grown-up sensibility, I think). ;o)

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about 3 years ago ThreeHawaiianGirls

I used Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips, it was what I had on hand. I thought it turned out fantastic! 1/2 cup (3 ounces) for a 9 x 13 pan. We ate the whole pan, and tomorrow, I am making more. Thanks again!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

That's terrific! Thanks so much for letting me know. ;o)

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Oh yum! These look so delicious. I'm a big fan of gingerbread, and I like that these are in bar form.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, EmilyC! I wanted something that could be cut into finger food size, to make it easier to eat at holiday parties. (I'd cut it into bars about half the size of the pieces shown in the photo.) ;o)

Dscn2212

about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Calvados! I love gingerbread, and what a happy home for something so heady.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks, boulangere! Yes, it's a good match, if I may say so. Rather grown up, too, especially if you use a good French Calvados. ;o)

Cakes

about 3 years ago Bevi

This is going to my husband's office on Thursday or Friday. I too will be using pear brandy.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Wow, Bevi, I'm honored. Let me know how you like it with the pear brandy! ;o)

Nog

about 3 years ago Niknud

Mmmm...molasses and chocolate and ginger and brandy. Oh dear. You really are dangerous aren't you?

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, Niknud . . . Dangerous? Me? Well, maybe, but with the best intentions, of course. ;o)

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about 3 years ago Midge

I love the dark chocolate addition and I'm with you on the cinnamon. Saving this to try soon!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks, Midge, I hope you do! I'm working on updating my chewy molasses Christmas cookies, so stay tuned. ;o)

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about 3 years ago Gingerdaddy

I'm StI'll recovering from your delicious pear-filled cowboy Coffee cake. Of course I didn't have to eat most of it, I just did. Have all the ingredients on hand, so will make this tonight and serve it with lunch tomorrow. I take it that if I use apple cider for the topping, I use same amount as brandy?

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Yes. But add it gradually, so it doesn't get too runny. There's a lot of variation when making glazes, in my experience, due to how densely packed your confectioners' sugar is when you measure it. You may even need more than 1/2 cup, depending on how runny or thick you like the glaze. I'm sure the cider will make it tasty! ;o)

Mrs._larkin_370

about 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Looks so yummy! We must all have gingerbread on the brain. I, too, made some recently - a vegan version. I agree, a little bit of chocolate makes it so so good! Thank you for another delicious recipe, AJ!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

You're welcome, mrslarkin, and thank you for your kind words. It's something about September becoming October that has us all thinking about gingerbread . . . Am really interested in your vegan version!! ;o)

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about 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

This is so funny. I was thinking about a variation on gingerbread just this morning--will post the recipe I dreamed up when I get around to making it.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I hope you do! Can't wait to see it. ;o)

Gator_cake

about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Yum, AJ! I love gingerbread. When you say dark molasses, do you mean black strap?

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Actually, that's a good question. I mean dark as in not light. But I think the labeling is now "regular" vs. light, so I'll clarify in the recipe. Of course you can use blackstrap, but in that case, you'd want to use a semisweet chocolate, lest the two different types of bitter notes overwhelm the other flavors. ;o)

Me

about 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I love this, AJ! Gingerbread is one of my favorites too. I'm working on a gingerbread too that uses some cutie-pie seckel pears I found at the farmer's market. I really love the use of chocolate in yours and your glaze looks fabulous for it. Great job!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks, ChezSuzanne. Yours with the seckel pears sounds simply wonderful. I can't wait to see the recipe. Actually, when I asked Mr. T what we should put in the glaze to pep it up a bit, he said, "Pear brandy." I only have apple on hand (Clear Creek . .. someone here recommended it, ages ago -- what it HLA?? -- and it's exceptionally good), so that's what I use. I have to say that the hard sauce glaze is my favorite new glaze, for this time of year . . . it's so evocative of the great holiday desserts we all enjoy! ;o)

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I just love this, gingerbread flavor is one of my all time favorites, the bar sounds perfect. I am going to be making these this week. The hard sauce glaze is fantastic.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, sdebrango! I'm so pleased that you want to make this. Please note that I corrected the baking powder amount when I proofread this from the screen last night. I also noticed that I'd left out the vanilla, so I added that, too. Here's a warning: the unsweetened baking chocolate, given the relatively small amount of sugar, may make this a bit too bitter for most, so I strongly suggest that you go with a more standard dark (but sweetened) chocolate the first time around. Have fun!! ;o)

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you, I have some good dark sweetened chocolate. This looks so good, its a good thing I waited until this afternoon to start on it noting the changes. Thank you.

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thats so funny I am going to use pear brandy for the glaze. I was just thinking of asking if you thought that would be a good substitute for the apple. Great!

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I haven't made these yet, I plan on making these for our potluck cookbook party. Will let you know how it goes. I know they will be wonderful!!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Fantastic! I hope everyone likes them. (We did!!) ;o)