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stack of 2 cream cheese frosted gingerbread cookie bars on green plates.

Gingerbread Cookie Bars

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 64 reviews
  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes (includes some cooling)
  • Yield: 24 bars
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These soft and chewy gingerbread cookie bars are so easy to make—no dough chilling, no dough rolling, and no cookie cutters required! They’re delicious plain, or topped with spiced cream cheese frosting. Careful not to over-bake these; they’ll still feel and look quite soft on top, but the bars set as they cool.


Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • small pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (12 Tbsp; 170g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar (I recommend dark)
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup  (80ml) unsulphured or dark molasses (do not use blackstrap; I prefer Grandma’s brand)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 6 ounces (170g) full-fat brick cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) confectioners’ sugar
  • small pinch each of ground ginger, cinnamon, & allspice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • optional for garnish: 1/4 cup (43g) sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Adjust oven rack to the center rack position. Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch metal or glass baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to easily lift the bars out of the pan. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, pepper, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and molasses together until no lumps remain. Whisk in the egg and vanilla. Pour this into the flour mixture and mix together with a large spoon or silicone spatula. Be sure to mix until no lumps of flour remain. The dough will be very thick and shiny.
  4. Transfer dough to the prepared baking pan and press/smooth into an even layer. It may not seem like enough dough, and it will be a thin layer—that’s ok.
  5. Bake for 23–26 minutes or until the top is set but still looks quite soft, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean with a few moist (not wet) crumbs. Do not over-bake. Bars puff up in the oven, but settle as they cool.
  6. Allow the bars to cool in the pan set on a wire rack for at least 1 hour.
  7. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if desired.
  8. Spread the frosting on the cooled bars. Top with sprinkles, if desired. To help set the frosting, refrigerate for 30 minutes before slicing and serving. This makes cutting easier and less messy. Use the overhanging parchment to lift the bars out of the pan, and cut into squares.
  9. Cover leftover bars tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you skipped the frosting, cover and store plain gingerbread cookie bars at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Allow to come to room temperature and continue with step 4. Baked and cooled cookie bars, with or without frosting, freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw bars overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): 9×13-inch Glass Baking Pan or Metal Baking Pan | Parchment Paper | Glass Mixing Bowls | Whisk | Silicone Spatula | Cooling Rack | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Gingerbread Cookie-Shaped Sprinkles | Christmas 4-pack Sprinkles | Snowflake Sprinkles
  3. Can I Halve the Recipe? Yes, you can halve the recipe for an 8-inch or thinner 9-inch batch of bars. The bake time is about the same, but begin checking for doneness at 22 minutes. It can be difficult to halve an egg accurately, so I do recommend making the original 9×13-inch batch, and you can freeze extras.
  4. Butter: Avoid letting the melted butter cool for too long, otherwise your dough will be crumbly instead of soft (and your cookie bars can end up cakey). As soon as it’s melted, stir in the sugars and molasses as instructed in step 3.
  5. Molasses: I use and recommend unsulphured or dark molasses. (I like Grandma’s brand. The kind I use is labeled “original” molasses.) Blackstrap molasses is extremely bitter and not ideal in this recipe.
  6. Cream Cheese in Frosting: Use brick cream cheese, not the spreadable kind that comes in a tub.