An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Friday, Black Friday


Lock the doors and hide the credit cards; it’s the scariest shopping day of the year! While more discount-savvy commercial hunters may relish the opportunity to forage and gather, scooping up the best sales around, I tremble in fear of the mere concept of waking up at 4 am in order to buy holiday gifts. Even for big ticket items reduced by hundreds of dollars, the pain and suffering simply can’t be worth the written price tag. Big price cuts bring big crowds, and I can’t help but flash back to the image of hapless gawkers being trampled half to death as soon as store doors crack open an inch. No, I’d be much happier safely holed up in the kitchen, cranking up the oven and making my own holiday gifts, as per usual.

Dark as coal but a much sweeter gift to recieve, it seemed only fitting to make a black dessert for the occasion. Contrary to how it looks, however, it’s not a brownie, and doesn’t even taste a bit chocolaty. Though a generous scoop of black cocoa is employed to intensify that charcoal color, it doesn’t contribute significant flavor. Instead, this bar is all spice, all the time. Complex and delicately nuanced, this is a gingerbread built for the discerning palate looking for something just a bit different from the same old spice blend. Rounded out by rich molasses, these bars are fantastically dense and chewy, like the best blondies should be. Though I hesitate to call them blondies based on their appearance, that’s how they started life; A few tweaks that lead to bigger alterations, built upon a recipe in my Blondies and Brownies ebook.

Seeking out a slightly fancier presentation, you may have noticed that these bars were in fact cut as rounds. Fun, unique, and eye-catching, I do love the shape, but it creates quite a bit of blondie “waste” in the process. Not to worry, nothing is truly wasted here- Especially if those scraps are used to make…

Caramel-cinnamon ice cream with black gingerbread chunks? Not such a bad consolation prize for the baker, I’d say!

Being only the day after Thanksgiving, it may seem like I’m jumping the gun on holiday gifts here, but this season it’s non-stop holiday madness for me; Hannukah is less than a week away, already! Even if you’re planning ahead for Christmas, the good news is that once baked and sliced, these bars keep beautifully in the freezer for up to 3 months, wrapped in plastic and stored in an air-tight container. So bake your heart out, and leave your wallet at home! Black Friday can be a much tastier affair.

Black Gingerbread Bars

2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Black Cocoa Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Instant Coffee Powder
1 Tablespoon Finely Grated Fresh Ginger
1 Tablespoon Ground Ginger
2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Cloves
1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon Paprika
Pinch Ground Black Pepper
1 1/2 Cups Chopped Walnuts
1/3 Cup Brown Rice Syrup
1/3 Cup Molasses
1 Cup Zulka Sugar
1/2 Cup Canola Oil
1/2 Cup Apple Butter
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Crystalized Ginger

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, coffee powder, and spices so that all the dry goods are well mixed. Add in the chopped chopped walnuts, and toss to coat with flour, so that the pieces don’t simply sink to the bottom of your bars.

Separately, mix together the rice syrup, molasses, brown sugar, oil, apple butter, and vanilla. Pour these wet ingredients into the bowl of dry, and stir just enough to bring everything together. A few errant lumps are just fine; Be sure not to over-mix. The resulting batter will be extremely thick and sticky, to the point of being difficult to mix- Don’t panic! Just make sure you get out any pockets of dry ingredients before proceeding.

Transfer the batter into your prepared pan, and use lightly moistened hands to press it down into one even layer until it reaches all of the corners and sides. Sprinkle the chopped crystalized ginger over the top, and press gently into the unbaked bars with your fingertips.

Bake for 28 – 35 minutes, or until no longer shiny on top, firm around the edges, and highly aromatic. Let cool completely before slicing either into squares, or cutting into rounds with a cookie cutter.

Printable Recipe

Caramel-Cinnamon Ice Cream with Black Gingerbread Chunks

1 Cup Coconut Milk
2 Cups Vanilla Soy or Coconut Creamer
1 Cup Vegan Caramel Sauce
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
Pinch Salt
2 Tablespoons Corn Starch
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1 Heaping Cup Bite-Sized Black Gingerbread Cubes

This ice cream is really easy as can be; Combine the coconut milk and creamer in a medium sauce pan, along with the caramel, cinnamon, salt, and corn starch. Whisk vigorously to combine and beat out any lumps. Turn on the heat to medium, and whisk occasionally until it just comes up to a boil and has thickened significantly. Cool completely and add the vanilla. Chill thoroughly before churning in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions, adding in the gingerbread chunks in the last 5 minutes of churning. Transfer to an air-tight container, and freeze solidly for at least 4 hours before serving.

Printable Recipe

Author: Hannah (BitterSweet)

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

49 thoughts on “Friday, Black Friday

  1. Oh this looks so good. I like the ginger pieces in it. It looks like flecks of gold.

  2. Just when I thought I couldn’t eat another bite, you’ve made me insanely hungry! haha These look fantastic, and I soooo want one of those gingerbread bars!

    I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! (I’m sure you family was very thankful for you and your incredible cooking skills!)

  3. Wow, what a creative gingerbread recipe!

  4. I have no real desire to venture out into the mess that is NYC on black friday either. Frankly. It frightens me. These seem like just the thing to warm me up on such a cold day. and I love how well they fit in with the black friday theme!

  5. No way I’m going out to shop today. However, it’s raining and I need to walk…so I may attempt a small mall nearby just to walk (unless there are a billion people in there!).

    Those Gingerbread Bars and especially the ice cream….look absolutely amazing. And even though I ate a ton yesterday, I’d love to eat that right now :)

  6. Those gingerbread bars look absolutely delicious!

  7. oh my i need to have some right now! they look so amazing.

  8. an afternoon of baking would be my preference to shopping too. What fabulous results and ice-cream too. Just as well we’re not real life neighbours or my chocolate and ice-cream loving husband would be finding excuses for us to call round :o)

  9. How creative and perfect for the day :) I like it in the ice cream for sure!

  10. I MUCH prefer your version of Black Friday, Hannah. You wouldn’t catch me within a mile of any store on this day. I think the bars look terrific but it’s the ice cream that I would have a hard time resisting. I have GOT to try that ice cream recipe. Delish!

  11. That ice cream looks and sounds amazing!

  12. Awesome gift! I stayed home too- hate crowded shopping and being trampled. Both desserts look incredible- and no waste LOL!

  13. I was so much happier being in my warm bed at 3:00 this morning than I would have been out shopping! Now, though, I’m happy sitting here thinking about that ice cream! Incredible!

  14. interesting, very interesting!!! i bet these are miraculously awesome!

  15. You know what? I’m not bothering to bookmark this.

    I’m printing it. Now. I think I’ve mentioned before that while I’m a serious chocolate-head, I don’t really go for chocolate desserts. Spiced desserts are much more my style!

    Also, the whole Black Friday thing gives me the heebie-jeebies. Thank heavens that craziness doesn’t exist here in Australia (yet…)

  16. Oooh – I just made your white gingerbread for Thanksgiving and now this?! Everyone loved the loaf but I really am a fan of darker goods. This seems to fit the bill quite nicely! And with most of the ingredients on hand….!

  17. Um, this look and sound insanely delicious!

  18. I am so intrigued by this recipe! I LOVE spicy cookies, so I bet these would be right up my alley.

    I am also thoroughly impressed by your creative use of cookie scraps!

  19. Wow, wow, wow- this looks amazing. Love the flavors here.

  20. Oh yum. These have just gone on the Holiday Baking list as item #1.


  21. Whoa this looks so sweet! Puuurrrrrfect for my sweet tooth!

  22. Yum. I have to admit I am one of those crazy shoppers that heads out, although at this point it’s more about the fact it’s a family tradition. My mother, aunt, sister and I go out every year and cap off the day with lunch. We’ve all mentioned that we’re losing interest in the shopping itself, but we love the idea of day as a chance to get together.

    Oh and I meant to tell you, I finally got a chance to try the Dr-Cow cheeses! I have a review of one of them on my blog today and others are to come. Thanks for sending the suggestion my way.

  23. Those bars look delicious, I might have to make them for my knit night group sometime!

  24. Two awesome recipes in one post = early holiday gifts for your readers :) Both the gingerbread bars and ice cream look scrumptious, and I’m totally with you regarding Black Friday: I stay as far away from shopping centers as possible on that day each year!

  25. To be honest, Black Friday is one of my favorite days of the year, but these look like a delicious substitute. I’m not great at baking, but I think i’ll attempt these for gifts. Thanks!

  26. Both treats sound super tasty! Love that nothing goes to waste here! Can’t wait to try these out!

  27. Amazing desserts. I am in trouble; I want them all!

  28. I love the dark dark colour of these brownies! It looks so mysterious and rich!

  29. thanks for all the beautiful recipes.
    any idea on what i can do with amaranth? i have about 3 gallons of it :0)

  30. hoorayyy! you used the apple butter as an inspiration! These look amazing! I just made a big tray of apple butter brownies that I’ll be posting later this week :)

  31. Enjoyed reading this, will check back soon!

  32. Wow, black gingerbread bars and ice cream! They both look amazing! Time well spent in the kitchen instead of the mall. :-)

  33. Love your recipes in honor of Black Friday. I stayed in. Shoot…eating this is so much better right?

  34. I am right there with you. I also never go shop on Black Friday. I can’t stand crowds..that discount is so not worth it to me. I believe I stayed home and cooked as well. I am in love with your ice cream. Next summer I’ll finally purchase an ice cream maker. I can’t wait to try your ice cream then : ]

  35. This looks and sounds great! Awesome job!

  36. I’ve been cutting back spending so no Black Friday shopping for me this year, but I will definitely take some of these bars. And I especially love the idea of putting them into ice cream. Just absolutely inspired!

  37. Oh, black and not too chocolaty? That sounds rather interesting.

  38. Oh, I really want to make an ice cream sandwich out of those!

  39. I am considering gifting some of these… but I have a roommate with an incredible dislike of chocolate — like, he is nauseated by it, and I’m sure he would be able to notice the cocoa that is in it. Is there anything I could sub instead? I suppose worst case scenario I could just make up for the dry mass with more flour…

  40. Had a snow-day so I made the Black Gingerbread Bars. Delicious!

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  44. I have been wanting a caramel or butterscotch ice cream. I think this is it. I have been making a banana / Greek yogurt / fresh strawberry version (I’m not Vegan) but wanted something not all fruit but not commercial. I got a new ice cream freezer to make frozen treats for my grand daughter who cannot have any dairy. Wait will we try this!!! Have to find the Vegan caramel sauce or learn to make it. Thanks.

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  46. What kind of coconut milk do you use? I’ve been a soy milk kind of girl for so long, but I notice in ice cream making most people call for coconut milk. I know there’s canned, refrigerated in a carton, and pantry carton types, or of course even fresh. Which do you use?

    • Whenever I call for coconut milk, unless otherwise specified, I’m referring to the full-fat canned variety. The refrigerated version falls under the umbrella term of “non-dairy milk” in my eyes which is interchangeable with soy and almond milk in most cases. The canned coconut milk is a completely different ingredient, much higher in fact and thus richer, creamer, and better for churning into decadent ice cream.

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