These bar cookies are a must-make for the holiday season. I know they don’t look like it at first glance, but these are actually blondies! The dense, chewy bars have the same fudgy texture that you typically find in a brownie, but without any of the chocolate. Blondies usually have a buttery vanilla base, but these bars add molasses, spices and oatmeal to the mix for a bar cookie with a fantastic flavor that you will crave.
The bars are very easy to make and can be mixed up in one bowl. Like brownies and other blondie recipes, there is no leavening in this recipe. The lack of baking powder or baking soda makes for bars that are dense and very satisfying to eat. Oatmeal gives the bars a bit of body and keeps the bars from being too soft from all the molasses in the batter. I used ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg to season these bars, along with a splash of vanilla extract. I didn’t include any mix-ins, but a 1/3 cup of chopped, candied ginger would spice this up nicely. If you prefer to add some crunch, 1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans would also make a nice addition.
The batter for this recipe is quite dense and you might have to work a little bit to get it spread into the corners of your pan, especially if you line your pan with parchment paper (I did!) before baking. The parchment paper layer ensures that the bars come out of the pan easily, so that every slice is nice and neat. Though it makes spreading the batter a little more challenging, I highly recommend lining the pan. To make the batter easier to spread, drop dollops of it over the base of the pan, then use a spatula to join them together, rather than pouring all the batter in the center and trying to spread it out.
I added a few teaspoons of cinnamon sugar to the top of the bars to give them a subtle crust. Feel free to skip that if you prefer. The bars can also be drizzle with lemon icing or a cream cheese glaze if you want them to look a little more dressed up. These bars keep well when stored in an airtight container and are amazing with coffee and tea. I recommend cutting them into smaller squares than you might with a brownie recipe for easier serving.
Gingerbread Oatmeal Blondies
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
3 tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup oatmeal (uncooked, regular or quick cooking)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg, molasses and vanilla extract until well-combined. Blend in spices.
Add in the flour and oatmeal and mix at low speed until the batter comes together and no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread into the corners using a spatula.
Bake for 30-32 minutes, until the bars are set and golden brown around the edges. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out with only moist crumbs attached.
Cool bars completely in the pan before slicing.
Makes 18 bars.