Ginger squares, with a Louisiana twist

Sweet-hot, spicy ginger ranks as one of my favorite flavors.  Whether it appears in sweet or savory dishes, I’m a fan:  Tazo’s green ginger tea, ginger Altoids, the Ginger People’s soft chews, homemade gingersnaps, Newman’s ginger-o cookies, ginger cinnamon gelato, Sprecker Brewery’s ginger ale, Siamese Thai’s stir fried ginger (#30 on the menu):  the list could go on and on.  In addition to its delicious culinary uses, ginger’s medicinal properties are legendary:  anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-nausea, with a long list of other reported but unconfirmed effects like reducing cholesterol and supressing coughs.

I’m always on the lookout for new recipes showcasing ginger.  King Arthur Flour’s sticky ginger squares fit the bill:  two kinds of ginger, dried and candied, spice up a thin gingerbread layer, while candied ginger takes center stage in a streusel topping.  Of course, I had to tinker with the recipe, slipping in a little local flavor.  I substituted Steen’s cane syrup for the original recipe’s molasses, and I added chopped pecans to both layers.  With a nice contrast between sticky and crunchy, the bars are assertively gingery and not for the faint of heart.  I’m delivering a batch today to a friend undergoing chemo–maybe they’ll tempt her appetite and chase away a bit of the nausea.

Pecan ginger bars

Cookie layer

  • 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 diced crystallized ginger
  • 1/4 cup Steen’s cane syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans

Streusel layer

  • 1 1/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, cut into 1/2-tablespoon chunks
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup diced crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Make cookie layer first:  combine flour, ginger, allspice, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bow; next, stir in the crystallized gingerl and set aside.  In a medium bowl, beat together cane syrup, eggs, brown sugar, and melted butter.  Stir in the flour mixture, continuing to  mix until well combined.  Stir in the pecans, then spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the streusel mixture:  place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Process in short bursts until rough crumbs form (some chunks of butter may remain).  Sprinkle the topping over the partially baked cookie layer, then return to the oven and bake an additional 30 minutes until the crumb layer is deep, golden brown.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Lift the bars carefully from the pan by the edges of the parchment paper.  Using a long slicing knife, cut bars into 2″ squares.

2 thoughts on “Ginger squares, with a Louisiana twist

    • Blenheim’s is too hot for me! I really, really like Sprecker, and my second favorite is probably Bundaberg ginger ale, from Australia. It’s sweetened with cane syrup and fermented in the bottle (CostPlus/WorldMarket carries it locally).

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