Iced Gingerbread Bars

Soft and chewy, with a rich spice flavor, Iced Gingerbread Bars are an old-fashioned cookie that will rock your holiday cookie tray. And for more tasty cookies, check out the #ChristmasCookies week recipes from my friends below.

Iced Gingerbread Bars

The holidays can be a fun time to reminisce.  Yes, pull up a chair and remind your cousin how pregnant she was a few Christmases ago.   And, of course, if you’re a food blogger, the memories will certainly include food!   

In my youth, Grandma’s Iced Gingerbread Bars were a highlight of the season.  But after she died, no one had made then successfully.  Including me.

But this year I was determined.  With notes from my previous failures and a tip from my mother, I finally got it. 

My husband was delighted.  With their soft homespun goodness and mildly sweet spiced flavor, even this non-sweet-eater was soon a (raving) fan.  I did make him save the last two for me! 

Iced Gingerbread Bars

What is Gingerbread

According to Wikipedia, “Gingerbread refers to a broad category of baked goods, typically flavored with ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon and sweetened with honey, sugar, or molasses. Gingerbread foods vary, ranging from a soft, moist loaf cake to forms nearly as crisp as a ginger snap.”

Now some people have very strong feelings about whether gingerbread should be hard or soft.  I happen to love soft cake-like gingerbread like these Iced Gingerbread Bars or my Pear Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake.

But I also love the hard crisp versions from the thin Swedish Pepparkakor to my special Holiday Embossed Gingerbread Cookies.  And what would we do without hard gingerbread for making houses!

So many gingerbreads, so little time!

Iced Gingerbread Bar

What is a Boiled Icing

These Iced Gingerbread Bars are topped with an icing known as a boiled icing, and sometimes called a seven-minute frosting.  It’s a form of Italian Meringue created by boiling a sugar syrup, then whipping it into stiffly beaten egg whites.  It hardens as it dries (though if wrapped and refrigerated the icing may stay soft) and is a common topping for ginger cookies.

The icing should be applied to the bars right away since it will harden fairly quickly.  While not traditionally made with vanilla, I added it for a flavor boost.

Iced Gingerbread Bars

Why You’ll Love This!

Tasty.  Rich, flavorful, soft gingerbread topped with sweet vanilla icing makes a tasty and special bar cookie.   

Festive.  Nothing says happy holidays like gingerbread!

Nostalgic. Growing up, my kids were always excited about the food their grandma made. Guess that’s true even with adults!

Iced Gingerbread Bars

What You’ll Need

Ingredient Notes

  • Sugar.   This adds sweetness and volume to the gingerbread and frosting.
  • Ginger.  This adds a spicy flavor to the gingerbread.
  • Cinnamon.  This adds a spicy flavor to the gingerbread.
  • Salt.  This enhances flavor and moderates bitterness.
  • Lard or shortening.  This enriches the gingerbread and aids in rising.
  • Mild molasses or sorghum.  This provides gingerbread flavor and adds to the sweetness. Mild molasses will have a stronger flavor than sorghum.  Do not use a strong molasses.
  • Eggs.  Yolks enrich the gingerbread and aids in rising.  The whites lighten the frosting.
  • Water.  This helps the baking soda disperse evenly and lightens the batter.
  • Baking soda. This helps the gingerbread rise.
  • All purpose flour.  I haven’t tried with white whole wheat.
  • Vanilla.  Adds flavor to the frosting.

Special Tools

  • You’ll need a mixer for the frosting. I also used mine for the bars, but they can be done by hand. 
  • You’ll need an instant read thermometer or candy thermometer for the frosting.

Iced Gingerbread Bars

Step by Step Directions

Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment and spray with non-stick spray.

Mix sugar, ginger, cinnamon and salt, then cream in lard.  Mix in egg yolks and molasses.

Mix sugar, spice lard, molasses

In a separate dish, dissolve baking soda in hot water.  Add to first mix.

dissolve baking soda in water

Mix in flour.  Dough should be dense but spreadable.

add flour to mixture

Spread in prepared pan.  Bake at 350 F until toothpick inserted off center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

After taking the gingerbread out of the oven, prepare the frosting.

In a free-standing mixer or large metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.  Do not over beat. 

In a small saucepan, mix sugar and water.   Heat on medium, stirring just until sugar dissolves.  Once mixture comes to a boil be sure not to stir or it will crystalize.  Heat to 238 – 242 F (soft ball stage). 

heat sugar

When sugar is up to temperature pour into egg whites, beating until mixture is fluffy but still spreadable. 

add sugar to egg whites

Immediately spread over (partially cooled) gingerbread. I let the frosting cool and harden on the bars at room temperature, but you could serve when it’s cool, even if still soft.

How to Serve

While I’d serve these any time of the year, Iced Gingerbread Bars are a special treat for the holidays.  And they are equally at home for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. 

To serve, you can leave them right in the baking pan and serve from there or cut them up and set on a platter.  They’re perfect alone or in combination with other festive cookies. 

Leftovers

My grandmother always stored these in a cookie tin at room temperature.  She made twice the amount as my recipe and it never lasted more than a couple days! 

Unfrosted, the gingerbread will freeze well.  Freezing a meringue-based frosting like this isn’t usually recommended.

Iced Gingerbread Bars

Welcome to #ChristmasCookies Week! That time of year when we soften the butter, fire up the oven, and make cookie trays for family, friends, and neighbors. This year more than 20 top-notch bloggers are sharing their very favorite creations for all to make and enjoy. Join us for a week’s worth of Christmas cookie deliciousness.

Iced Gingerbread Bars

Iced Gingerbread Bars

Soft chewy cookies with a rich spiced flavor, Iced Gingerbread Bars are an old-fashioned treat that will rock your holiday cookie tray.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Dessert
Servings 20

Ingredients
  

Gingerbread:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup lard or shortening
  • 1/2 cup mild molasses or sorghum
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 6 Tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Frosting:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions
 

  • Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment and spray with non-stick spray.
  • Mix sugar, ginger, cinnamon and salt, then cream in lard. Mix in egg yolks and molasses.
  • In a separate dish, dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to first mix.
  • Mix in flour. Dough should be dense but spreadable.
  • Spread in prepared pan. Bake at 350 F until toothpick inserted off center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  • After taking the gingerbread out of the oven, prepare the frosting.
  • In a free-standing mixer or large metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Do not over beat.
  • In a small saucepan, mix sugar and water. Heat on medium, stirring just until sugar dissolves. Once mixture comes to a boil be sure not to stir or it will crystalize. Heat to 238 - 242 F (soft ball stage).
  • When sugar is up to temperature pour into egg whites, beating until mixture is fluffy but still spreadable. Immediately spread over (partially cooled) gingerbread. I let the frosting cool and harden on the bars at room temperature, but you could serve when it's cool, even if still soft.

15 thoughts on “Iced Gingerbread Bars

  1. Rebecca

    Love love making gingerbread. It always makes the house smell wonderful! Such a great idea to make into bars too. Thanks!

  2. Rebecca

    Love love making gingerbread. It always makes the house smell wonderful! Such a great idea to make into bars too

  3. David Scott Allen

    Before even starting to read your post, I saw the photo and title and it took me back to Christmas in my Nana’s home – the iced gingerbread! Then I read that it is reminiscing for you, as well. I am sending this to my brothers to see if they remember them.

    1. Inger Post author

      So happy to bring back some memories David! My sister is gluten free so she’ll just be looking this Thanksgiving but brother will get to eat and hopefully we inspire some new Grandma’s Gingerbread lovers!

  4. Jolene

    So glad you were able to recreate this family recipe! It’s going to be a big hit with my family too!

  5. Julie

    5 stars
    I’m so happy you were finally able to perfect your grandmothers recipe and that you are sharing it with us. They look fabulous!

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