Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Spicy little gingerbread bars and a buttery frosting peppered with orange zest

Jeff said that he wanted this week's Wednesday Treat Day to involve gingerbread in some way - after giving him a bunch of options to choose from, he picked out a recipe for Gingerbread Bars with Orange Frosting. I think he actually just closed his eyes and pointed to this one as he looked a little overwhelmed when I gave him a list options.

These little bars have a spicy flavor from the addition of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and fresh grated nutmeg into the batter. Since gingerbread usually gets its dark rich flavor from molasses, we couldn't forget the good 2/3 cup used in this recipe. The bars are moist and somewhat soft, but they are sturdy enough so you can pick them up to eat if you wanted.

Gingerbread Bars with Orange FrostingYou could dust them lightly with confectioners' sugar if you wanted to keep these bars a little lighter, but what fun would that be? For a striking contrast to the deep, dark cake, we prepared a quick creamy frosting made simply from confectioners' sugar, butter, a little milk to thin and just a touch of fresh grated orange zest. The hint of orange from that bright zest was a nice boost to the generous sweet frosting and we both thought that it married well with the spices in the gingerbread. If you're feeling especially festive, add a little holiday cheer by scattering some sprinkles on top!

Gingerbread Bars with Orange FrostingWhile tonight's dinner, Vegetable Enchiladas, makes quite a few servings, there is a point during assembly that you can stop and freeze half to bake off at a later time.

The sauce for these stuffed white corn tortillas is made first - to start it off, cumin, flour and tomato paste are toasted in a bit of olive oil. Vegetable broth and water are added and the mixture bubbles away until it slightly thickens and reduces a bit.

Meanwhile, the filling is prepared by mixing a hearty combination of cheese, black beans, spinach, corn, scallions and smoky cumin. You could just use pepper Jack cheese, but we used a blend of Cheddar, Jack, Asadero and Queso Blanco to get a depth of flavor. The tortillas, filled to the brim, are rolled up, divided between two baking dishes and topped with additional cheese. A lot of enchilada recipes have you dip the tortillas in hot oil before filling - in the interest of keeping this dish somewhat lighter, we warmed the tortillas, wrapped in moist paper towels, in the microwave for a minute to make them pliable enough to roll without cracking or breaking.

Vegetable EnchiladasAt this point, you can stop and freeze both or one of the baking dishes, well covered, and top with the sauce just before baking. If you do decide to do this, freeze the sauce separately and thaw just the sauce before baking. You will want to cook it at the same temperature, but cook it covered for 30 minutes and then remove the cover and continue to cook until bubbly, about 15 minutes more.

Want a peek inside?

Vegetable Enchiladas


  1. I've been craving gingerbread with cream cheese frosting since a month now. I may have to make your recipe. The enchiladas look really good also. I can't find corn tortillas around here, so I may have to use flour instead.

  2. Oh yum, i love the look of both of these recipes. The baked enchillades sound amazing.

  3. These both look wonderful! Nice post! (I also like how you put desert first!)


  4. Joe,

    You did it again. The post today makes me want to run to the grocery store and buy all necessary ingredients!

    We've tried the baked hush puppies, lemon baked cod and last night had the lasagna soup. YUMMY!!

    My husband and I agreed that we want to live at your house. Do you have space for three people and three cats?

  5. Helene - you could always try to make your own!

    Katie - Thanks!

    Lewis - :-)

    Melainie - Isn't that soup the best? I've made it so many times now! Yes, in fact we do! We have lots of room in the lower level... and it even has heated floors!

  6. Wow, the gingerbread bars look incredible! I am putting together a "treat" tray for a function DH is having at work this Friday, and I am definitely adding these bars. I think I even have all the ingredients on hand! Thanks, Joe!

  7. Aggie - I hope you like them!

  8. I didn't get a chance to make the gingerbread bars for DH's work event, but I did make them as one of my Christmas day desserts. They were a HUGE hit. Mine did take much longer than 18-20 minutes to bake (more like 30-35), not sure why, but everyone loved them. There were only 7 of us at dinner, and I also made your peppermint chocolate cheesecake bars, so there were plenty leftover, which came to the office with me today, and everyone gobbled them up. Thanks so much - they were delicious!

  9. Eva - Excellent. I'm glad they turned out well even with the additional time!