Raising the bar: Sticky Ginger Squares

Chocolate, it’s time for you to take a break. You’ve been hogging the spotlight for weeks now. Even your biggest fans are becoming a bit jaded. So move to the back of the line, OK?

Gingerrrrrrrrrrrr… come on down!

If ever there’s a time for sweetSPICYhot ginger, in all its myriad incarnations, this is it. The fresh scent of balsam and the prickle of snow on your cheeks, overlaid with warm kitchen aromas of gingerbread cookies and eggnog, signal that the end-of-year holidays are upon us.

And to many of us, that means ginger. Think gingerbread men, and the warm, gingery scent of pumpkin pie. Gingersnaps and soft molasses cookies, gingerbread cake and tender scones studded with chunks of crystallized ginger. Ginger tea. Ginger ale (and its various celebratory add-ins).

Come the holidays, ginger is HOT – in more ways than one.

The following simple bars are a wonderful flavor combo of ginger and brown sugar and butter and spice. Their bottom layer is dense and chewy; the top, tender and crumbly and light. And throughout, wonderfully assertive ginger plays a starring role.

Can you make these bars without crystallized ginger? Well, yeah… but they just won’t be the same, in texture or taste. If you’ve never enjoyed crystallized (candied) ginger, this recipe is the perfect place to start.

Sticky Ginger Squares – take center-stage. It’s your time to shine.

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Our cute ginger mini chips, irregular chips ranging in size from 3/8” down, will be used twice in this recipe: once in the bar itself, and again in the the topping.

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Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9” x 13” pan, or line with parchment and grease the parchment.

Place the following in a mixing bowl:

1 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup ginger mini chips or diced crystallized ginger

If you’re not using crystallized ginger, increase the ground ginger to 1 tablespoon.

Can you substitute raisins, dried cranberries, cinnamon chips, or 1/2 cup of something else for the crystallized ginger? Sure. It won’t be the same, but who knows, you may invent something you like even better!

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Whisk to combine.

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Combine 1/4 cup molasses, 2 large eggs, 1 1/3 cups brown sugar, and 1/4 cup melted butter.

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Stir till smooth.

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Pour over the dry ingredients in the bowl…

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…and stir till smooth. The ginger chips will give it a lumpy appearance; don’t worry about it.

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Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

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Spread to the edges. Boy, this is an EASY recipe, isn’t it?

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Here we are, ready to go into the oven.

What, no topping? Patience, that’s next.

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Put the squares in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. While they’re baking, make the topping.

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Combine the following:

1 1/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt; reduce the salt to 1/8 teaspoon if you use salted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar

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Work in the butter till the mixture is unevenly crumbly; some chunks of butter can remain. Stir in 1/2 cup ginger mini chips or diced crystallized ginger.

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Remove the squares from the oven, and sprinkle with the topping. Return to the oven. Bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, till the topping is a lovely golden brown.

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Remove from the oven; you’ll notice the edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan just slightly – this is a sign the bars are done.

Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen them. Allow them to cool.

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Cut into squares: four lengthwise strips, then six crosswise, for a total of 24 squares.

Notice the light/crumbly topping and ultra-dense, chewy bottom layer are just about equal in height; it’s a compelling contrast of textures, with hot-sweet ginger flavor all the way through.

I can definitely see these on Santa’s cookie plate – how about you?

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Sticky Ginger Squares.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. cindyg8

    These are excellent in texture, but could do without the two tsp. of ground ginger, unless you like to taste ALL ginger with your bar. For me, I prefer just a hint. I absolutely love the chewiness and crumbly topping, but the next time I make them, I will probably omit ALL of the ground ginger. Thanks for this great recipe!

    Reply
  2. Pat

    Hello KAF! I made these for the second time last night and they are right up there on my top 20 all-time favorites. If you don’t like ginger, don’t even try them, but if that flavor pleases you, these are sure to satisfy.

    Thanks for the feedback, Pat. these are indeed assertive – not for the lukewarm ginger fan… of which I am NOT one ( I love ginger…) Glad they’re a hit for you – PJH

    Reply
  3. tess

    Although I loved these and snuck them onto our church’s snack table and overheard great comments about them, (after I shook off most of the dry topping) I have to ditto ‘ECR’s comment about the struesel being too much,too dry. Where did we go wrong?

    Tess, maybe your expectations were simply for something more buttery/cohesive? The topping is quite dry. Add to this that it’s winter, and the flour is very dry, and it may have simply pushed it over the edge to TOO dry. OR – did you measure by the fluff-sprinkle-sweep method? Dipping your cup into the canister will give you too much flour. Try cutting back on the flour next time (if it’s still winter), OK? PJH

    Reply
  4. Tanya

    I had just done all my Christmas baking and was just enjoying that up-to-date feeling when …. you publish the Ginger Squares recipe! I just HAD to try them …immediately. (I always keep my pantry well stocked – just for occasions like this 🙂 I made them exactly as the recipe says although I think I added a minute or two extra to the baking time. They are ABSOLUTELY amazing! As for storage – after they cooled, I packed them into some Christmas tins I stack up in the kitchen as part of my decor – and a week later, they are as delicious as when I first made them. They have a strong, substantial ginger flavour; soft and chewy, bit of real ginger.. hmhmhm! Excellent recipe – thank you King Arthur team. Also just HAVE to say how much I enjoyed your Holiday greeting video – certainly spread cheer!
    Thanks for the good words, Tanya. We had a great time making the video, too. I made the ginger squares during the middle of the ordering/packing push for the crew downstairs in the warehouse and the grain room, and they were still swooning at the memory a week later, so I know what you mean! Susan Reid

    Reply
  5. ECR

    I tried these last night and they’re very yummy. Mine seemed to have too much dry streusel on top, so I think next time (and there will be a next time!) I’m going to make more of the bottom and slightly less of the top. The chewy gingery bottom is what I really love!

    Reply
  6. Valerie

    Great – cyber Monday and the beginning of the next round of weight-loss ready for Christmas – and I find this recipe!!!

    Oh well, I exercised this morning, so here goes!

    By the way, do you think these would freeze well?

    Yes, Valerie, I do think these would freeze quite well, tightly wrapped. PJH

    Reply
  7. Dana

    These look amazing. But, could you let me know something about the pan you used? I’ve never seen one like that before. Thanks!

    Dana, it’s one of our line of USA Pans. They have “corrugated” bottoms for better browning and easier release. I’ve switched to them full-time – they’re from a company in Pennsylvania that makes pans for the baking industry, and they’re just fabulous. Take a look at our 9″ square pan for more information. Unfortunately, we won’t have the 9″ x 13″ available till after Christmas, but it’s coming, and in the meantime we do have all the other standard sizes. Thanks for asking – PJH

    Reply
  8. SarahD

    These were delicious, but mine didn’t come out as pretty as yours. My gingerbread layer bubbled up through the streusel layer, and I ended up with puddles of gingerbread on top of the streusel. Maybe I should bake the gingerbread layer a little longer before adding the streusel layer? I did use whole wheat pastry flour instead of white flour in both the gingerbread and the streusel, which might affect the rate at which it solidifies.

    And speaking of King Arthur Flour, the best flour there is…I really wish it was possible to buy your whole wheat pastry flour in stores. I get your white and whole wheat flours in my local grocery stores(though sadly no longer at Trader Joe’s), but they don’t carry your whole wheat pastry flour, and it’s expensive to ship flour all the way across the country to Seattle. I have to settle for the whole wheat pastry flour brands that I can get locally, which just aren’t as good.

    I also have to rave, once again, about how much I LOVE your Whole Grain Baking book. I have made so many fabulous recipes from it.

    Thanks for your kind words, Sarah. Indeed, whole wheat pastry flour, with its much lower gluten, wouldn’t have absorbed as much liquid; therefore it would be more prone to bubbling up. Sorry we can’t offer that particular flour in grocery stores – what we have in the grocery stores is entirely up to what the stores will accept, and if there’s not enough call for a particular product (e.g., ww pastry flour), it won’t get onto the supermarket shelves. – PJH

    Reply
  9. Nicole

    but…but…I love chocolates! 🙁

    I tried making gingerbread cookies before, it tasted horrible! I haven’t tried anything with ginger on it again. Maybe I be lucky with this one 🙂

    Nicole, maybe ginger just isn’t for you – it’s OK, you don’t HAVE to like it! Do you like gingerale? That’s the basic flavor you’ll get, only WAY intensified… PJH

    Reply
  10. Megan

    The recipe looks and smells delicious!!! Mine are in the oven right now…just added the topping and the house smells amazing! Don’t know how much time I will be able to allow them to cool!!

    Reply

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