Embrace the heartwarming essence of winter with these Gingerbread Cream Cheese Bars. It’s a recipe that perfectly captures the season’s spirit. This recipe brings you a delectable treat that melds the rich, spicy notes of gingerbread with the smooth, tangy kick of cream cheese frosting. These bars are not just a dessert; they’re an experience, a bite of comfort during the chilly days of winter, wrapped in the sweet smell of gingerbread. Let’s delve into the creation of these cozy winter treats, exploring the recipe, the chemistry behind it, and tips to ensure your gingerbread bars are as delightful to make as they are to eat.

There is something so calming and comforting about gingerbread during the winter. It’s not just the taste but the aroma that fills the kitchen, promising warmth and joy. Werther it’s these bars or Cinnamon Sugar Gingerbread Cookies you simply have to enjoy gingerbread throughout the holiday season.

As a fan of all things cozy, I’ve crafted these gingerbread cream cheese bars to capture this essence in an easy-to-enjoy form. Just imagine gathering around a fire to enjoy a quiet moment by the window, watching the snowfall, these bars are designed to add a touch of sweetness to that moment. There shouldn’t be a winter storm outside without the warm scent of gingerbread permeating throughout your home. For a snowed in activity or just a random weekend activity, give these Gingerbread Houses a try.

Freshly made gingerbread cream cheese bars

The Chemistry of Gingerbread Cream Cheese Bars

The magic of gingerbread lies in its blend of spices – ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg – which not only provide its signature flavor but also work together to stimulate warmth and satisfaction. Molasses, with its rich, deep flavor and sticky texture, acts as a natural humectant, keeping the bars moist and chewy. The cream cheese frosting adds a contrasting tang, cutting through the sweetness and richness of the gingerbread, creating a balanced and irresistible treat. The chemistry of baking soda, when combined with the acidic component of molasses, helps the bars rise, creating a soft, tender texture.

Why chill the gingerbread dough?

Chilling the dough allows the flavors to meld together and solidifies the fats, making the dough easier to handle and preventing the bars from spreading too much during baking, ensuring a chewy, dense texture. If you love gingerbread like me, surely you’ll also love my White Chocolate Gingerbread Men recipe.

Can I freeze gingerbread cream cheese bars?

Yes, these bars freeze beautifully, even with the frosting. Freeze them on a baking sheet first, then wrap individually and store in an airtight container. Thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature before serving.

Freshly made gingerbread cream cheese bars

How do I know when the gingerbread bars are done?

The bars are ready when they no longer look shiny on top. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with a few moist crumbs.

Why does my gingerbread taste bitter?

The bitterness can come from over-measuring spices or molasses. Ensure accurate measurements with kitchen scales or proper measuring spoons and cups. Also, check that your spices and molasses are fresh and not expired.

Freshly made gingerbread cream cheese bars

What is in gingerbread cream cheese bars?

Unsalted Butter

It is always important to use unsalted butter when baking. If you use salted butter, you have no way of knowing how much salt you are adding to your dough or batter and it will result in an overly salted treat.

Butter adds fats to your dough or batter which helps with moistness, flavor and texture. Butter melts at body temperature, which creates a ‘melt in your mouth’ sensation.

When baking with butter the temperature is important. If the butter is too warm your treat will melt down too fast and overspread in the oven, leaving you with a greasy, flat mess. If your butter is too cold it will have the opposite problem and not melt down enough, leaving your treat too thick.

Brown Sugar

Is granulated sugar with a little molasses mixed in. Molasses is a somewhat smoky flavored natural sweetener, which makes brown sugar a bit sweeter than granulated sugar. Brown sugar draws more moisture into your treat, keeping it softer for longer. It’s also more acidic, which means it will help activate your baking soda.

Eggs

Adds both a protein (egg whites) and fat (egg yolks). The egg whites help with rising because, when foamed, little air pockets get trapped inside the egg white mixture. The water content in egg whites encourages steam while baking, which helps with gluten formation, resulting in nice and thick treats. Egg yolks have emulsifying properties that bring batters and doughs together and help them from collapsing. Unless otherwise specified, always use large eggs.

Vanilla Extract

When using pure vanilla extract, as opposed to imitation flavoring, it will add the deep rich flavor that everybody wants in a treat.

Molasses

Is a natural sweetener with a distinct tangy flavor. Molasses is able to absorb water, which adds more moisture into your baked treat. Not only it will help your treat have an extended shelf life, it also keep it soft and chewy for longer.

All-purpose Flour

Builds structure as it absorbs liquids and expands. All-purpose flour falls in the middle of bread flour (high in gluten) and cake flour (low in gluten). It’s exactly what it is named, all-purpose, the most universal flour that can be used in most baked goods.

Baking Soda

Elevates the pH level of your batter or dough. It increases the spread in your treat and encourages browning, which gives the crispy outside and soft inside texture that everyone loves. Baking soda needs both an acid and a liquid to react. Things that will activate your baking soda are: vinegar, fruit juice, molasses, brown sugar, tartar, buttermilk and sour cream. Baking soda only reacts once, which is right when it’s mixed into your batter or dough. The soda creates little air bubbles all throughout your treat. When the air bubbles get heated up in the oven, they expand.

Fine Sea Salt

Enhances flavor, adds balance, masks any bitter flavors. Salt is the most powerful and oldest preservative. Always make sure to use fine sea salt so it melts down at the right speed in the heat of the oven. If you use larger granule salt, it will not melt down fully when baked and will leave salt crystals throughout your treat, making it crunch like you dropped it into sand.

Ginger

A seasoning that adds a nice spice to your treat.

Cinnamon

A seasoning that adds a nice spice to your treat.

Cloves

A seasoning that adds a nice spice to your treat.

Nutmeg

A seasoning that adds a nutty flavor to your treat.

Cream cheese

Provides a unique, tangy flavor. When baked it adds moisture to your treat.

Unsalted butter

Often the main ingredient of frosting, it adds structure to your buttercream. It also adds a smooth and velvety texture. Butter melts at body temperature, so it will make your frosting have a melt-in-your-mouth sensation.

Powdered Sugar

Is just finely ground granulated sugar. It will absorb moisture in your batter or dough. It dissolves easily, ensuring a smooth texture without grittiness. Because it is so fine, it can melt quickly in the oven and spread cookies out more. Powdered sugar also stabilizes and thickens the frosting, thanks to the small amount of cornstarch it contains.

Freshly made gingerbread cream cheese bars

Storage Tips

Store the frosted bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The flavors will continue to develop, making them even more delicious after a day or two.

Freezing

Both the unfrosted bars and frosted bars can be frozen. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then foil to protect from freezer burn. They can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Making Ahead

The gingerbread dough can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, making it easy to bake the bars fresh when needed. The cream cheese frosting can also be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Simply whip it again before spreading on the cooled bars to refresh its texture.

Freshly made gingerbread cream cheese bars

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Why make gingerbread cream cheese bars?

With these gingerbread cream cheese bars, embrace the season’s flavors and create memories that will warm your heart and delight your taste buds. Whether for a holiday gathering, a gift for friends, or a treat for yourself, these bars promise to bring a touch of sweetness to the winter season.

Recipes You May Love

Gingerbread Cream Cheese Bars

Author: Madison Reid
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 3 hours
Servings: 24
Gingerbread is the sweet smell of winter. These bars are not only delicious but they are soft and topped with tangy cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients 

Gingerbread

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Bars

  • In a standing mixer combine sugar and butter, whip on medium high speed for 1-2 minutes until lighter in color and texture
  • Stir in eggs & vanilla
  • Add in molasses and mix until combined
  • In a separate bowl combine all the dry ingredients (flour, soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg)
  • Turn the standing mixer on low and slowly pour in the dry ingredients. Mix until the dough comes together
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 3 hours or up to 3 days.
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and press into a greased and parchment paper lined 9×13 pan or cookie sheet if you want thinner bars.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until no longer shiny
  • Allow the bars to cool completely before frosting

Frosting

  • In a standing mixer add the cream cheese and butter. Mix until softened and combined.
  • Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Mix until combined and smooth.
  • Whip on high for 1-2 minutes until lighter in texture.
  • Spread the frosting over the cooled bars and enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 407kcal Carbohydrates: 56g Protein: 4g Fat: 19g Saturated Fat: 12g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 71mg Sodium: 187mg Potassium: 218mg Fiber: 1g Sugar: 37g Vitamin A: 630IU Vitamin C: 0.01mg Calcium: 52mg Iron: 2mg

Have you tried this recipe?

I’d love to see it! Follow @_mrs.madi_ on Instagram and tag your photos with #mrsmadi.

Freshly made gingerbread cream cheese bars