My aunt and uncle used to have three chocolate Labs named "Mo", "Las", and "Ses" and every time I hear the word, I think of those precious puppies. So cute. Well, this last weekend I worked on Christmas-ifying the house and while doing so, made Chocolate Gingerbread Bars. All in all, a success, but definitely a specific taste and seasonal one. The boyfriend went for a long morning bike ride on the mountain and while he was away, I scrambled to cozy up the house. I put on some Nat King Cole, cleaned like a banshee, strung christmas lights around all the windows, hung a wreath on the door, and filled the place with that holiday spice smell from hot-out-of-the-oven bars. For myself and the fun of decorating, and a little to ta-da! my hungry, exhausted boyfriend when he walks through the door. "Ah honey, you baked." (What movie?)
I personally loved the bars but they are definitely quite ginger-y (so heads up, non-lovers). The chocolate chips and powdered sugar top were nice sweet counters to the heavy spiciness of the cake.
I've only baked with molasses a few times before and usually gingerbread men during Christmas, but didn't realize until now that I liked spice in my desserts as much as I do. Memory-conjuring smells are usually spices for me like ginger, cinnamon, cloves, etc but this taste works much the same. Tastes like Christmas.
The recipe includes sour cream which really makes it moist. The bars just melt and stick to the roof of your mouth. In a great but got milk? sorta way.
I'm always happy to throw chocolate chips into any recipe. Amazing when hot and gooey, but also nice hidden chunks of surprise when bitten into cold.
There's also cocoa powder in the mix and dusted in the pan. A great balance of chocolate and ginger actually. Spiced brownies is the best description.
Bars such as these are so easy to make—this recipe was totally quick and painless. I love the aesthetic of bars too, cutting them up and dusting them, maybe arranging in a festive box as a gift. Not sure how they'd pass with the kids but would be a nice treat for a holiday party or baking exchange.
You'll definitely need milk with these. Deliciously chewy and rich, yet you won't be able to eat more than one.
Chocolate Gingerbread Bars
Adapted from Everyday Food
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pan
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom with a strip of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper. Dust paper and sides of pan with cocoa; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, ginger, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar, molasses, egg, and sour cream until smooth. Add flour mixture; stir just until moistened (do not over-mix). Stir in chocolate chips. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top.
3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely. Using paper overhang, lift gingerbread from pan. Transfer to a cutting board, and cut into 16 squares. Before serving, dust bars with confectioners' sugar, if desired.