Last week was the busiest week I’ve had in a while and I feel like this week is going to be more of the same as I try to play catch-up with the things I had to put aside last week. Kramer has been insanely busy, too, but I’m really proud of how he’s handled the pressure. This past semester was probably his most difficult yet, and on top of that, he’s been staying at work long hours, trying to keep up with everything. Of course, he did well, as always, but he’s playing catch-up this week too, as finals having been taking up most of his time. Now we’ve got to make sure we buy all of our holiday presents, send out cards and get the rest of our shit together. I’m sure I’m not alone in this last minute end-of-the-year scramble. I know we’re going to have to power through the remainder of 2014, but hopefully next week will slow down a little as people go on vacation and the rest of the holidays run their course. I’m ready for 2015, so hit me with your best shot, holidays – I can take it.
Kim and me testing out the photobooth at our company holiday party.
Part of the reason I was so busy last week was that my colleague Kim and I were planning our company’s holiday party. It’s insane how much effort goes into planning a party that only lasts for a few hours, but there were over 150 people in attendance and we wanted it to be awesome. I was honestly having stress dreams about running out of alcohol or food or both, but thankfully everything went relatively smoothly. We even set up a photobooth, which was clearly my favorite part of the evening, and I made about 100 chocolate chip cookies, on top of the sandwiches and cupcakes and other treats we had available. One of our employees recommended two awesome bartenders, and another employee got us a killer deal on booze, so we were able to throw a great party, if I do say so myself. Now we have to start thinking about how we’re going to top it and have an even better event next year. Did you already have your company holiday party? Give me ideas for 2015!
To get in the spirit of the season, tra la la la la and all that jazz, I present to you these gingerbread bars. They’re chewy in the center with a deliciously crunchy top, dotted with candied ginger and decorated with rich white chocolate – the perfect thing to have around for an easy dessert or a weekend treat with a cup of coffee. Why not? It’s the holidays – you can afford to have your pants feel a little tight for a few weeks. Embrace it and hide any love handles under a big sweater, then join a gym in January and get back to it. We’re human, after all. I love all of the aromatics in these bars, plus the depth of flavor added from the dark molasses. You don’t HAVE to add candied ginger, either – walnuts, pecans, white chocolate chips or butterscotch chips would all make excellent substitutions, or just make it simple and don’t add in anything at all! These are seriously good bars either way, and hold up well for a few days if you want to make them ahead of time for all of the holiday festivities you’ll no doubt be partaking in this week.
Combine your dry ingredients and set them aside.
Roughly chop your candied ginger.
Add it to your batter and fold it in to combine.
Spread your batter into your prepared baking dish.
Sprinkle your raw sugar and cinnamon over the dough – I also sprinkled some crushed graham cracker crumbs over my bars, because I had it – go nuts!
Bake until golden and set, then drizzle with some white chocolate.
Cut into bars and inhale.
- 10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, cubed
- 1¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup molasses
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup candied ginger, roughly chopped (optional but recommended)
- ½ cup raw or granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ cup white chocolate, for drizzling (again, optional but recommended)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9x13-inch baking dish with parchment paper, or butter the dish well if you have no parchment.
- Cube your butter and add it to your mixing bowl along with your brown sugar. Beat the two together until well creamed, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add in your eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, then add in the molasses and almond extract, again, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
- Whisk together your flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. Add the flour to the wet mixture a cup at a time, until well mixed, scraping down the bowl as needed. Fold in the candied ginger.
- Using a wooden spoon or your hands, pat the dough into the prepared dish. The dough will be quite thick. Combine ½ cup of raw or granulated sugar with ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and sprinkle over the top of the gingerbread bars. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the bars are a deep golden brown and set (if they start to brown too much, you can cover the pan with foil while they continue to bake).
- Allow the bars to cool for 30 minutes or so, then carefully melt your white chocolate in the microwave in 15 second increments, stirring after each to that the chocolate doesn't burn, and drizzle over the bars. Allow to cool before slicing into squares. These will keep well, in an airtight container, for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.