Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Molasses Chocolate Chip Bars

Goodbye pumpkin, hello gingerbread and molasses.

I love these flavors so much and am so excited to be baking with them. Actually, I bake with them all year, but it’s safe to blog about them now.

Last week I started a Gingerbread & Molasses pinterest board in preparation for all the ginger and molasses recipes I know I’ll see online and want to remember. Food blogs are so predictable this time of year. First pumpkin, then ginger and molasses, then mint. I hope we linger in this phase for awhile.

My new board inspired me make something to kick off ginger and molasses season.

These bars are my heaven. They’re dense to the point of being almost like molasses fudge, with an abundance of chocolate chips that melt, making them even closer to fudge. Like a fudgy gingerbread brownie of sorts.

If you’re looking for a traditional, soft and fluffy ginger or molasses cake, or traditional cakey gingerbread cookies that you’d decorate, these bars are not that. There’s no chemical leaveners in them because I wanted them to stay flat and dense. Back to that fudge factor.

They follow the pattern of my trusty blondies recipesand are made in one-bowlno mixer required, and the batter is whisked together in minutes before being turned out into a pan and baked.

Simple melt one stick of butter in a bowl in the micro, stir in an egg, brown sugar, molasses, 3 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon each of cloves and nutmeg.

That’s 7 teaspoons of spices for a small pan of bars, and the bars definitely have a zippy kick. Not overwhelming for me personally, but they’re bold. There’s nothing more disappointing than lackluster-spiced pumpkin, ginger, or molasses-based recipes so I use a heavy hand. If you don’t like bold flavors, dial the spices back, possibly even halving them.

I recommend using a light to medium molasses so the bars don’t taste bitter or too pungent, a likely result if you use blackstrap molasses.

After stirring in the flour, add 1/1 4 cups chocolate chips, turn batter out into the pan, and top with 1/4 cup additional. I always place a few chocolate chipswhite chocolate chips or candy pieces on top of my cookies and bars. It adds a visual pop to your treats so they really glisten and shine.

Bake the bars until they’re done. For me, that was 32 minutes. Because ingredients, climates, and taste preferences vary, always bake things until they’re done in your oven and to your taste. It’ll be a little tricky testing with a toothpick because you’ll keep hitting melted chocolate patches. There are worse things.

If you prefer more well-done, drier, bars, bake longer. Easy enough, but I can’t tell you how many people write to me, ‘But I baked it for exactly as long as you said and it wasn’t done’. Okay, then bake a little longer. Maybe you live in a humid climate or your oven runs 25 degrees cooler or you like drier food than I do. I’m an admitted under-baking queen.

I let the bars cool overnight. It makes cutting them much easier because the chocolate fully sets, they’re not as gooey, and they have a chance to rest, and for the flavors to marry. Ginger and molasses treats really do taste better in the few days after baking them.

The thick molasses, the softening and tenderizing effects of the brown sugar, coupled with the chocolate that melts and then sets up, they’re like eating a piece of dense, rich, molasses fudge with bold spices. The chocolate stands up beautifully to the boldness of the molasses and spices and is a wonderful pairing.

If you’re the type of person who frequently utters statements like, ‘Oh that’s too strong’, or ‘That’s so spicy’ or ‘Wow, that’s too rich’, don’t make these. They’re not going to be your thing.

However, if you’re a person who has to at least double the cinnamon in most recipes and you’re a real fan of molasses, coupled with a love of chocolate and fudgy things, they’ll be your thing. They’re definitely mine.

Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Molasses Chocolate Chip Bars

These bars aren’t at all like traditional, soft and fluffy ginger or molasses cake, or gingerbread decorating cookies. They’re extremely dense, rich, moist, and fudge-like. Molasses fudge meets gingerbread brownie. They’re made in own bowl, without needing a mixer, and the batter is whisked together in minutes. The thick molasses, the softening and tenderizing effects of the brown sugar, coupled with chocolate, and they’re like eating a piece of molasses fudge with bold spices. I used 7 teaspoons of spices and they’re very boldly spiced. If you’re more sensitive to spices, you may wish to dial them back, possibly even halving them. The semi-sweet chocolate stands up beautifully to the boldness of the molasses and spices and is a wonderful pairing. I recommend allowing these bars to cool overnight, allowing the chocolate to really set and for the flavors to marry. They taste better in the few days after baking them.

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1 large egg
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsulphered light or medium molasses  (not blackstrap, it’s too pungent)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch salt, optional to taste
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large, microwave-safe bowl melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
  3. Wait momentarily before adding the egg so you don’t scramble it. Add the egg, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, optional salt, and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add the flour and stir until just combined, don’t overmix.
  5. Stir in 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips.
  6. Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
  7. Evenly sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips over the top, pressing them down very lightly with a spatula.
  8. Bake for about 32 to 34 minutes, or until done. I prefer them very moist, soft, and fudge-like, and baked for 32 minutes (shown in photos). If you prefer more well-done, dryer bars, bake for a few minutes longer; noting baking times may vary widely with this recipe based on personal preferences. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter; however, it will be hard to find a clean patch to test because you’ll likely hit chocolate. Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 30 to 60 minutes before slicing and serving; I prefer to let these bars rest overnight so the flavors marry and the chocolate fully sets, at which point they’re fudge-like. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
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What’s your favorite gingerbread or molasses recipe?