August 01, 2010

Christmas Baking with Chocolate Gingerbread

I’m back with something sweet! Hopefully my computer troubles are over and I can concentrate on more important things, like baking! I know a lot of you in the Northern hemisphere have been sweating lately, but in the backwards land that is New Zealand, the colder weather has me feeling like it should soon be Christmas. I sometimes forget that just because the seasons are inversed here, doesn’t mean the holidays are. Lately I’ve had it on the brain that Christmas should be right around the corner. The days are short, it gets dark early, there’s a chill in the air and I’ve been eating clementines, a sure sign that the holiday season is upon us… Or maybe not. Anyways, since I’ve been in a festive mood, I decided to do some Christmas-y flavoured baking in the form of these Chocolate Gingerbread Bars from Martha Stewart.

Every review I read of them was positive and I’m convinced it’s a good recipe, but I didn’t love the molasses that I used for them. In many ways New Zealand is like Canada, but there are little differences that only become more apparent after you’ve been here for a while. Anyone who’s ever been to Thailand will know the expression “Same same, but different.” That idea applies here too. When I go to the grocery store here they’ve got most of the same ingredients as back home but they’re not identical. The molasses I got here had a stronger, more bitter flavour, (one of my tasters likened it to black liquorice) and I felt it almost overpowered the bars. To compensate for that I decided that a vanilla been frosting was needed. When I was in Tonga I picked up a bundle of vanilla beans and I’ve since been using them with reckless abandon. I used an entire vanilla bean to make a simple icing sugar, lemon juice and vanilla bean seed frosting to spread in between the bars. It added enough sweetness and contrast to offset the strength of the molasses and in the end, these bars were quite addictive. So addictive in fact that I had to get them out of my sight so I packaged them up and gave them to a friend of mine who was supposed to share with her boyfriend. I received a call today saying that he never got one…

Chocolate Gingerbread Bars, (from Martha Stewart)

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)

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.
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 overmix). Stir in chocolate chips. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top.
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. (To store, keep in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 days.)

***The only thing I changed, besides adding the vanilla frosting, was to omit the pumpkin pie spice and ground ginger which I replaced with cinnamon, nutmeg and grated fresh ginger.


bellini valli said...

These really do remind me of Christmas:D

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Pretty with the pattern.
Yes I've gotten to be a huge fan of fresh ginger.

Pam said...

This looks great and a wonderful Christmas thing!

Patricia Scarpin said...

It's winter here in Brazil too and the cold, rainy days make me crave comforting food and sweets, just like these bars - they look so good, Brilynn!

It's wonderful seeing you again around here. :)


LyB said...

I so wish it was time for cooler temperatures here too... It's so warm and humid right now, I envy you! Those bars look great, I love the addition of vanilla frosting, it makes the bars even more festive.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

I'll have to tuck these into my recipe file for Christmas time. Brilliant idea to put a vanilla frosting layer in there!

Helene said...

This looks so good even for our Canada summer months.

kavak yelleri 125. bölüm izle said...

thank you

Kate Morgan Jackson said...

Love the pattern - very beautiful!