The whole process of making these bars is rather intriguing and on the bonus side, you don't even have to haul out the mixer if you don't like (I didn't!). The dough can be prepared using one bowl and a sturdy wooden spoon. Rather than using the traditional method of creaming together softened butter and sugar, you'll be combining all of the dry ingredients (flour, granulated sugar, two full tablespoons of aromatic ground ginger and a bit of baking powder) together, then mixing in a couple sticks worth of melted butter. Once that golden slick is worked in, an egg, a generous scoop of finely chopped crystallized ginger, sticky honey and tiny bits of brilliant lemon zest complete
Kind of an odd order, but it does come together! Do note that once you start patting the dough into the pan, you'll start to notice glistening butter oozing out - this is to be expected and will not be a problem. Rest assured, the butter will reabsorb as the bars bake. When the top is golden, the sheet of dough is firm to the touch and your nose perks up as the distinct ginger-y scent seeps from the oven, it's time to pull the pan out from the oven.
Be prepared to work with these right away as they get their shiny, tart topping not when they have cooled, but when they are pipping hot fresh out of the oven! Being very careful, you'll be turning the flat of bars out onto a board, then smearing on a thick, yet runny, glaze made from confectioners' sugar and enough fresh lemon juice to thin. If you are at all worried about the bars sticking, feel free to line the baking pan with parchment paper or foil (and of course, coating with either nonstick spray or butter).
These scream to be stacked on a holiday cookie platter - Jeff said they are a strong contender to make the list for our annual Holiday Baking Spree! I think the best way to describe these bars is that they are like a cross between shortbread and thin ginger blondie (minus the brown sugar, of course) - dense and chewy, with this addictive light crispness to them that got my attention. The ginger is definitely up front and center, but both the lemon and the added sweetness balance its spicy, sharp bite. As I mentioned, the bars can be stacked when serving as the icing sets to a firm shell - however, if you are storing them for a length of time stacked, lay sheets of parchment or wax paper between the layers to separate them.