For as long as I can remember, my family always decorated gingerbread houses at Christmas time.
Some years we even made the gingerbread house modeled after our own house! My mom and dad would use stencils to cut out the homemade gingerbread dough, then bake it and carefully assemble it with royal icing using soup cans to hold it up while it dried. This would be followed by a trip the Bulk Barn, where we would buy $80 worth of candy (I’m not joking) to decorate it with.
We’ve tried to keep the tradition alive in recent years, but we just don’t put in the same effort as we did when we were younger. The past few holiday seasons have seen half-decorated gingerbread house that no one has the energy to finish.
So it’s with sadness that we bring this tradition to an end. Instead this year we will focus our efforts on baking all sorts of delicious holiday treats like my Nana’s shortbread cookies. To keep the gingerbread tradition alive though, I’ve developed these chocolate chip gingerbread spice bars. They’re healthy, but I swear you could fool your family with this recipe. These chocolate chip gingerbread spice bars are soft, moist, and the perfect level of sweetness. I think they’re perfect as is, but if you want to take it up a notch, you could top them with icing for a better-for-you Christmas dessert. Either way, I guarantee you’ll enjoy them!
- 1.5 cups (~195 g) whole wheat pastry flour
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ⅛ tsp cloves
- Scant ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp warm water
- ⅓ cup canned pumpkin
- ⅓ cup fancy molasses
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil
- 2 tbsp applesauce
- ⅓ cup mini vegan chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a small bowl, mix together the whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt.
- In a small ramekin combine the ground flax and water. Set aside for the time being.
- In a large bowl add the pumpkin, molasses, maple syrup, coconut oil, and applesauce. Note: it is best if all the ingredients are at room temperature so that they do not cause the coconut oil to harden when mixed together. If coconut oil hardens, simply pop the bowl in the microwave to melt it again.
- Add the ground flax and water to the liquid ingredients and stir. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips gently.
- Pour the mixture into an 8x8 square baking pan that has been sprayed and floured. Bake in the centre of the oven for 18-20 minutes, then remove and let cool.
What are your Christmas traditions? Have any of them changed over the years?