Raising the bar: Sticky Ginger Squares

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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 was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Amy

    These look lovely. So many holiday cookie recipes, so little time. :)

    I’ve noticed that many of your recipes call for KA products that aren’t available in the grocery store. No, I’m not complaining. I want to thank you for including common substitutions in your recipes. No, it might not turn out exactly the same. I’m an impulse baker, so if I want to make something then I want it now. I don’t have the patience to wait for my order to arrive. Some day soon I need to put together an order with everything I want BEFORE the urge strikes.

    Thanks for understanding the situation we’re in, Amy. In order to do the blog, the recipes, the free classes all over the country – we have to sell stuff, too. But we realize it’s not nice to “force” people to use only our products – EXCEPT the flour, which I think is the key to it all, and which I will go to my grave believing is the best flour on earth. Thus the substitutions. I like to encourage people to at least try our products, esp. the ingredients; but I also simply want people to bake, and share, and pass along what they know to the next person, the next generation. :) PJH

    Reply
  2. Erin in PA

    I LOVE crystallized ginger chips!!! I don’t make a batch of gingersnaps without them – I will definitely be trying this recipe tonight to share with my fellow teachers tomorrow before Thanksgiving Vacation! Will let you know how they turn out…

    Thanks for baking and sharing, Erin – ’tis the season, eh? Hope your fellow teachers appreciate ginger like you do! PJH

    Reply
  3. Amanda

    I love ginger! But I’m about out of crystallized ginger–I like to snack on it. I’ll have to head to the grocery store in order to make these. And figure out how to fit them in with my ever-growing list of to-bake goodies…

    Reply
    1. Ray

      Making your own crystallized ginger is rather easy. I’ve never bought it, and always have some on hand. Give it a try!

    2. PJ Hamel , post author

      Ray, I make my own ginger syrup, but have never tried making my own crystallized ginger. You’re right, I bet it would be fairly easy – I’ll definitely put it on my list. Thanks! PJH

  4. Marianna

    Just when I thought I was done baking until I make my pies on Wed, you bring on another must bake recipe! I love ginger and I do have some of the ginger mini chips in the house but I also have your soft diced ginger. Can I use that in this recipe? Thanks!

    Yes, you can definitely use either the soft ginger or the mini chips, Marianna – either is fine. PJH

    Reply
  5. Kathy

    Holy schnikes – this looks fantastic! I love seeing these punchy, sharp flavors (like ginger, mint, lemon, and cranberry) shine during the holidays, ’cause I get tired of sticky-sweet-chocolate flavors quick.

    By the way, my boyfriend and I are making the chocolate chunk-pecan pie and the soft, white rolls (among a couple other dishes) for dinner on Thursday. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to work together to help make our family happy with good food!

    Sounds like fun, Kathy – cooking together is a real bonding experience – until you get to the part where you have to decide who gets to lick the bowl, right? :) PJH

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  6. Lish

    Can not wait to try these! Ginger is one of my favorite flavors, and sometimes I don’t have the time and energy to make gingerbread cutouts. It seems like this is a perfect substitute to put out with coffee for drop in holiday guests. How long would these stay fresh, and how would you store them? They just look heavenly!

    Lish, they wouldn’t stay fresh endlessly, as they’re quite thin. I’d say they’d be good for a few days (as thin brownies would be), wrapped in plastic. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  7. linda

    PJ count me in on this one!! this looks delish & easy & i have all the ingredients…YIPPEE!!
    quick q…this pan looks corrugated like the pan you used for the brownies…USA Pans?
    happy thanksgiving to you & all the kaf peeps!

    Yes, USA Pans – but I jumped the gun, we won’t have the 9″ x 13″ till the New Year sometime… Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Linda – PJH

    Reply
  8. Soupaddict Karen

    And here I was just thinking that I needed some fab way to use up the rest of my mini ginger chips. I wonder how these babies would freeze … maybe I’ll make a batch and see. (Freezing, of course, only one or two slices … not gonna freeze the whole batch the first time out. Must do loads of taste-testing, ya know ;) ). Thanks for the ongoing outpouring of yummies, girls – Happy Turkey Day!

    Freezing a couple pieces should be fine for this recipe. Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  9. Beth @ 990 Square

    I’ve held off for so long ordering from your website (I am fortunate enough to have a Whole Foods very close to my house that stocks a wide variety of KAF flours) but I need these ginger nubs and these bars! So I’m going to head over to the shop and place an order.

    I read your comment on the other post saying KAF makes all the difference, and it really does. I think it’s really the thing the separates my baked goods from the rest. I made a wedding cake this weekend and I insisted on using the cake flour for all of it, even though we could have made a cheaper cake with other flour. But it really makes a difference in the final product.

    Reply
  10. Pat

    I LOVE these. I first made them from the Cookie Companion, and they are FAB-U-LOUS! I don’t make them as often as I would like because I am the only ginger fan in the house, and I have NO self control where these things are concerned, but they are really really good.

    Reply
  11. Lee

    wow – wish there was a “smell” feature on my toolbar – these look like they’d really perfume the whole house. mmmmmm!
    wonder if I could sneak in a few chopped dates?

    Lee, dates sound wonderful – I hesitate to call for them, as so many people turn up their nose (can’t imagine why) – but thanks for the inspiration! PJH

    Reply
  12. Katherine

    I had to chuckle at the response to Amy’s comment… substitutions ok, but not for the flour. Every store that usually carries it is out of the all purpose flour. :( I’m looking forward to it being back in stock.

    Katherine, it would help us to know what stores/where are out – we like to nudge the suppliers when we hear about out-of-stocks. Don’t worry, you’re not tattling! And maybe we can suggest another store near you that carries our flour. Email me if you want with the info – pj.hamel@kingarthurflour.com. Thanks – PJH

    Reply
  13. Marci

    Dear PJH: Concerning your first posting in these comments: I agree with you. It IS the best flour on earth. At this moment my kitchen has the lovely Thanksgiving aromas of homemade bread–whole wheat and whole wheat and raisin and soft molasses cookies. Love KA flour! And this blog!

    Reply
  14. Maggie

    I am wild about ginger so these look incredible. I just got my KAF package with *gasp!* mini ginger chips in it! It must be fate. I must say, coming home from work to see a box with the KAF knight on horseback puts a fresh sparkle to the day. I usually can’t remember everything I ordered, so unpacking the box always has that sense of surprise. Any suggestions for substituting fresh grated ginger for the powder in this recipe?
    We haven’t tried using grated ginger but a half of a teaspoon or to taste should do it. Molly @ KAF

    Reply
  15. V

    Oh my, these sound absolutely amazing! I think they’d make a fabulous presentation with each square topped with a chocolate dipped ginger baby! :)

    Reply
  16. V Reed

    Oh my, these sound absolutely amazing! I think they’d make a fabulous presentation with each square topped with a chocolate dipped ginger baby!

    I think I’ll be ordering a bunch of ginger very soon now.

    Reply
  17. Sue E. Conrad

    Um-um-um, PJ!!!!! Will be making these soon…..or perhaps not until after the holidays. Got a lot on my plate – a trip to Daytona for T-day, then moving off the boat into an apartment, AND recuperating from knee surgery. I’ll also try adding ginger chips or candied ginger the next time I make gingerbread (a tried-and-true recipe from Good Housekeeping, back in the day when exotic ingredients weren’t the norm). Thanks for yet another tempting recipe, and happy holidays to everyone at KAF.

    P.S. Made the Sour Cream Coffeecake From the King Arthur Flour Bag for friends; substituted toasted pine nuts for the walnuts – lip-smacking good!

    Reply
  18. AJ

    These sound pretty good, but I’m the only one who’d eat it.
    But, did someone mention dates? Now there’s an ingredient I love
    dearly! Dates say “Holiday” to me more than anything else except Mom’s
    Mincemeat cookies. Any chance you will be doing anything with dates?
    Not sure what recipes are waiting in the wings but till then we have several very nice recipes using dates already on our site. Use dates as your search word in the recipe section. Joan @bakershotlione

    Reply
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
  26. 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
  27. 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
  28. 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
  29. Kasey

    If we substitute KA white whole wheat flour will I have to adjust the amount?

    When using white whole wheat for all purpose flour, start with 25% of the white whole wheat for all purpose flour. If you like the taste and texture results – bump the white whole wheat to 50% but don’t go beyond that amount. If so, you’ll need to use a recipe written specifically for whole wheat flour. Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  30. Julie

    Thank you! What an amazing recipe! I chopped my crystallized ginger finely and baked the base 14 minutes then an additional 24 minutes with the topping. I pressed slightly on the crumble top, which probably helps to keep the squares together. They came out perfect! This was my test recipe for a parting gift that I’m taking for a friend’s housewarming party next week. Will stack three between small pieces of parchment paper and put in a see-through bag with a bow.

    Reply
  31. Barbara d. Newman

    I hate that you post these delicious looking recipes on Facebook. I think this is a conspiracy to make me gain weight!. I have to make these lovely looking goodies all the time. They are delightful, but my poor wasteline. Seriously, I love your posts. And you always include step-by-step directions.
    Thank you

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Barbara, thanks for your kind words. I’m with you – always a balancing act between what you want, and what’s good for you. Hang in there! Bake, enjoy a bit(e) – then share. :) PJH

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