I spent one day in Anchorage last week catching up with the Alaska Food Community. It was a great day that included discussions on photography, writing, and travel. We also ate a lot of great food. Laurie Constantino kindly opened up her home to the group. It felt like I had known Laurie forever, but in fact this was the first time we had every met in person. The group barely had enough time to introduce ourselves and have dinner before Maya and I had to catch flights back to our respective homes. I wish I would have had more time to stay and chat. We are working toward meeting up again soon. We have started a Google+ community called Alaska Food Community, please come join us if you live in Alaska and would like to be part of the group. It is a great place for food writers, photographers, bloggers, and other media to gather and work together.
I made a batch (or two) of these ginger crunch bars to bring to the gathering. I actually call them "Ginger Crack" because it is pretty much impossible to stop eating them once you have started. I have made three batches since I first found the recipe only two weeks ago. I have found that the salt is essential in bringing out the flavor of the ginger in these bars, so if you don't have salted butter, make sure you add 1/2 teaspoon to the shortbread base. These bars are great for any ginger lover and go best with a nice hot cup of coffee.
Ginger Crunch (a.k.a. Ginger Crack)
adapted from David Lebovitz
4 1/2 ounces (9 tablespoons) salted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground dried ginger
2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) salted butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup *see note below
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon ground dried ginger
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Spary with non-stick cooking spray or butter a 11x7 or 13x4 -inch rectangular tart pan or another similarly sized pan. If using a pan without a removable bottom,line baking pan with parchment paper and allow it to hang a bit over the edges to easily remove the bars from the pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment cream the butter with the sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger.
Mix the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture until well-combined. Turn the dough out into the tart pan and press the dough firmly and evenly into the pan. You will want the dough to be flat and even. The dough will initially be very crumbly. If using a scallop edged tart pan, you will need to make sure you get the dough into all the little spaces along the edge.
Place the tart pan on a baking sheet to prevent the bottom of the crust from burning. Bake the dough for 20 minutes, until it’s light golden brown.
Five minutes before the crust is done, make the icing by heating the 5 tablespoons of butter and golden syrup in a small pan, when the butter has melted mix in the powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon ginger, stirring until smooth.
Pour the warm icing over the cookie base as soon as you remove it from the oven. Let sit for about 20 to 30 minutes until the icing has set up, then remove from the pan and slice while still slightly warm. If you wait until they are completely cooled it will be very difficult to cut them without crumbling.
*Golden Syrup is becoming more common in the United States. You can find it at most higher end grocery or specialty stores. It can also be ordered online from King Arthur Flour. If you live in Anchorage, Alaska or visit regularly you can find it at New Sagaya.