November 15, 2015

Frosted Cinnamon Spice Bars

The next installment of The Great Fall Baking Marathon of 2015 is here, which means your Monday won't be quite so bad if you choose to partake. These soft, fluffy bars are packed with fall spices and molasses and topped with a velvety maple cream cheese frosting. My family was practically eating these out of the pan with a spoon, but I guess you can cut them into bars or fun holiday shapes if you want to share with other people.

The batter is essentially a cinnamon spice cake batter with some inspiration from chocolate chip cookie dough (if that makes any sense). The texture of the batter is somewhere between a cake batter and a cookie dough; it's thick enough that you can't just pour it into the pan evenly but thin enough that you don't have to press it down.

The batter starts by creaming butter and brown sugar together until fluffy. You then beat in eggs, molasses, and vanilla. The molasses deepens the flavor and adds a gorgeous color. The dry ingredients are gently folded in at the end; they consist of regular all purpose flour, baking soda, salt, and my special blend of fall spices. These are only mixed until they are just combined so that the bars stay soft and not tough.

The frosting is equally delicious and even easier to make. All you have to do is beat softened cream cheese together with some powdered sugar and fold in some maple syrup. For aesthetic purposes, you can leave some of the maple syrup in streaks and ribbons or drizzle some more on top. You can also sprinkle some cinnamon on top, either randomly or over a stencil or doily for a gorgeous pattern.

To customize these further, you can throw in some white chocolate chunks or some dried cranberries (or both). Don't let the fluffiness of the bars fool you; they can stand up to just about anything you mix in. I, however, prefer the simplicity of just the maple and the spices. The bars are great for Thanksgiving snacking or as an addition to your dessert spread (you can only eat so much pie) since they make so many from just one batch. Because they're best consumed on the first day or two, you have even more of an excuse to eat as many as you possibly can in as little time as possible.

12 T Butter, Softened
8 oz Cream Cheese, Softened
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
2 Eggs
3 T Molasses
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
2 1/2 Cups Flour
2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp + Pinch Salt
3/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Ginger
1/8 tsp Allspice
1/8 tsp Cloves

1/4 Cup Maple Syrup

Heat oven to 350F and line a 9x13" pan with parchment.

Beat the butter and brown sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs, molasses, and 1 tsp vanilla. Whisk the flour, baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves together, then gradually add to the butter mixture.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 14-16 minutes or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, remaining salt, and remaining vanilla together. Beat in the maple syrup and spread onto the cooled bars.

Makes 18
Recipe Adapted from Betty Crocker

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