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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)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter an 8” x 8” baking dish.
- 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).
- Put the melted chocolate and butter into a medium bowl with the molasses and brown sugar. Stir well to combine.
- Combine the dry ingredients.
- Gently beat the eggs and stir into the wet ingredients, with the vanilla.
- Add the dry ingredients and stir just to combine. Do not overbeat.
- 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.
- 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.
- Enjoy!! ;o)
- 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)
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Holiday Confection