These bars start with a mix of spices, that you blend together. I think this is good because you can omit ingredients that you don’t like or use whatever fits that you happen to have on hand. In my case, the original recipe called for cardamom, which I do not like. I substituted Chinese Five-Spice as that has some similar ingredients. I didn’t notice a difference in the end, so make these bars your own!
As expected, the bars sunk in the middle. Perhaps not as bad as the original photos, but noticeable. I didn’t know when they were done, as I started testing and after several instances the bars still weren’t done. They get cracked along the edges, and finally they tested as I expected. The glaze was a little dry, so if you need to add a half teaspoon of water to the glaze, that will make it easier. The bars are certainly soft in the center, but they are so good. The tops are crackly-crunchy and the center is soft and gooey. The spice mixture is just perfect for fall.
Chewy Chai Bars
1/2 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon Chinese Five-Spice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon spice mixture (from above)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8” square pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger, Chinese Five-Spice, black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and all but 1 teaspoon of the spice mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir with a spatula to combine.
Spoon the cookie dough into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the spatula.
Bake for about 40 minutes. Begin testing the bars at 30 minutes, as the baking time varies. The cookies will be soft when you remove them from the oven, a cake tester will come out with a few crumbs when the bars are done.
As soon as you take the bars from the oven, make the glaze. In a small bowl combine the sugar, melted butter, and reserved 1 teaspoon spice mixture. Brush the mixture over the warm bars and then allow the bars to cool completely before cutting into bars.
Recipe from Dessert for Two