Most of my childhood memories revolve around food. And being upset when little girls made fun of my clothes. So yeah, I’d rather think about the food.
There was a cookie shop (a Mrs. Fields-type place) in the student union of the university where my parents worked. Sometimes, we’d go visit my dad at work, and on a really good day, we’d get a big gingerbread man as a treat. Or at least, it seemed big. If I looked at the cookie as an adult, it would probably be tiny.
These gingerbread men had red hot buttons. You know, the candy. So as an adult, I don’t like to eat gingerbread if there are no red hots involved. That’s why these delightful gingerbread bars are covered not only in a thick, snowy layer of frosting, but also with red hot candies!
If a brownie had a gingerbread counterpart, this would be it. As much fun as it is to roll out those little guys, this is the low-maintenance version. Same flavor, less work. I’m a fan!
The most surprising thing about these bars is how quickly they bake. They’re pretty much set after 15 minutes in the oven. You don’t want to leave them in much longer, or they’ll get overbaked. That’s the enemy.
For an easy and different addition to your holiday party circuit this year, give these bars a shot. They might not bring back the childhood joy of biting the head off a gingerbread man, but they’ll sure bring back that taste.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses (unsulfured)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cups flour
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
sprinkles and red hots for decorating
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8 x 8 pan with aluminum foil, leaving enough to hang over the sides. Spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar with the molasses until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and mix again. Beat in the baking soda, salt and flour gradually, until the dough forms.
- Spread the dough in the prepared pan, patting it down. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely.
- When the bars are cool, make the frosting. Cream the butter and shortening until smooth. Add the powdered sugar gradually along with the vanilla. When the powdered sugar is added, mix in the milk. Whip for a few minutes until completely smooth.
- Spread the frosting on the bars. Add sprinkles and other decorations as desired!
- Let the frosting set; cut into squares and store in an airtight container.