It all started with Elf…
then that lead to Love Actually…
and The Santa Claus was up next…
which inevitably lead to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation…
I guess you could say we’re prepping for the 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon.
What’s better this time of year? Nothing.
Now, I know that most of Santa’s helpers out there would prefer a big ol’ glass of wine and some popcorn on Christmas Eve Night, and not more cookies…but you can’t really tell your kids that. Plus, they’ll eventually add it up and realize you’re condoning sleigh-drinking-and-driving. No bueno.
So I think you should totally keep it easy, fun and delicioso with cookie bars! You bake them in one pan, then just slice um up and serve them! Santa will be really happy and so will all of his helpers, big and small.
I used Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips in these cookie bars. They’re a bit larger than the average chocolate chip, so they make bigger craters of chocolate. I love them! Because the cookies are Gingersnap and heavily flavored with warm spices like molasses, ginger, cinnamon and cloves, the milk chocolate is the perfect chocolate to compliment the flavors and not add any bitterness. Of course, if you prefer semisweet chips (or that’s all you have), they’ll still be delicious!
A sprinkle of Demerara sugar adds a special touch; a bit of sparkly, sweet crunch. You can use raw or sparkling sugar if you don’t have any. It’s little touches like those that turn a simple treat into something spectacular. You could gift these in a little box, wrapped in twine, and you’ll get many oooooh’s and ahhhh’s!
I recommend cutting them into 16 smaller cookie bars. When you’re gifting cookies or going to cookie exchanges, you should keep in mind that people are usually overwhelmed with a lot of cookie choices during the holiday season. Dividing them into smaller cookie bars makes them more manageable for nibblers and tasters. Of course, if you’re keeping them for Santa, then cutting them into 9 larger cookie squares is just fine!
- ½ cup butter (1 stick), melted
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup dark molasses (not black strap)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups unbleached flour
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground cloves
- ½- ¾ cup milk chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli*)
- 2 tsp. Demerara sugar (or coarse sugar, for topping)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8" baking pan with parchment and spray it with nonstick spray.
- In the bowl of your mixer, combine the melted butter and brown sugar. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes, until thick and well combined. Then, add the egg and continue to whip. When the egg is mixed in, add the molasses** and vanilla extract and mix until completely incorporated.
- Turn your mixer off. Add the flour, baking soda and spices. Turn your mixer on low and let the dough come together. When the dough is almost fully mixed together, add the chocolate chips and let them mix in evenly.
- Turn the dough out into the prepared baking dish. Spray your fingers with nonstick spray and use your fingers to press the dough into an even layer. Sprinkle the top of the dough with the Demerara sugar.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes (mine were perfect at 22 minutes), being careful not to over-bake the cookie bars. When they're done baking, place the pan of cookies on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Slice the cookies into 9 large cookie squares or 16 smaller cookie bars. Enjoy!
- *I use Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips because they're larger than other brands of chocolate chips, creating larger craters of chocolate in the dough. Using milk chocolate chips adds a creamy sweetness to the cookies that compliments the bold spices of the cookies.
- **It's easier to pour molasses out of a measuring cup if you spray your measuring cup with nonstick spray before measuring it out. Then, the molasses slips easily out of the measuring cup.