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Monday, April 2, 2012

Pumpkin Gingerbread Bars--good any time of the year



When I freeze things like applesauce, pumpkin, etc., I put measured amounts in small sandwich bags, labeled with the contents, and then put like bags together in a larger, heavy freezer bag. Keeps things organized and easy to find....if you read the labels carefully.

But reading labels doesn't always seem necessary, especially when I am in a hurry. Yesterday, I had plans for three pounds of applesauce, so I pulled the little bags out of the freezer and put them on the counter to start thawing. It was only later, after they were already partially melted, that I realized I had three bags of pumpkin instead!

Some of the pumpkin went into a vegetable soup I was beginning to simmer in the slow cooker, but there were still three cups to use up. Instead of the strawberry applesauce cake I meant to make, I first stirred up a batch of pumpkin oatmeal cookies.

I had also purchased some fresh ginger root over the weekend, and the natural blending of pumpkin and ginger seemed like it must be the basis for some kind of gingery cookie as well. Another internet search and I discovered that there really wasn't anything out there exactly like what I was thinking of. Another little bit of experimentation and I ended up with these frosted gingerbread bar cookies.


Iced Pumpkin Gingerbread Bars

1/3 c butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c dark molasses (not blackstrap)
2 eggs
3 T water
2 t grated fresh ginger (see NOTE 1)
1 c pumpkin puree (about half a 15 oz can)
1 3/4 c flour
2 t ground ginger
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1 t baking soda

1.  Cream the butter and sugar and then stir in the molasses, eggs, grated fresh ginger, and water. Beat well.
2.  Sift together the dry ingredients. Add alternately with the pumpkin, stirring well after each addition--however, no need to beat! You just want the ingredients completely combined.
3.  Oil well a 10 X 15 baking pan. Spread the batter evenly in the pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.
4.  Frost with a basic powdered sugar icing, using orange juice for part or all of the liquid if desired. (See NOTE 2)




NOTE 1:  If you don't have fresh ginger, increase the amount of ground ginger to as much as 4 teaspoons, depending on your family's preference for spicy flavors.

NOTE 2:  While searching for a recipe like this, I found several references to orange flavored frostings. I happened to have a can of prepared frosting from a promotion (buy a cake mix, get the frosting free), and it happened to be light orange (it was a Halloween special if you haven't guessed). While the use by date is still 8 or 9 months away, this seemed like a good time to use up the frosting. I stirred in about 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (didn't have any orange extract) and about a tablespoon or so of frozen orange juice concentrate. To be honest, I still would prefer a from scratch frosting, but the orange flavor did blend well with the cookies...and the frosting really was easy to spread in lovely swirls and cut well too.




Two cookies, both with pumpkin, and yet totally different. And while we often think of pumpkin as only a fall ingredient, now is as good a time as any to try one or both of these recipes. Both make large batches, so they are ideal if you are called upon to take something to a potluck or bake sale.

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