It’s been a month since we were on vacation. I don’t know where that month went, but in early September I was lounging by a sparkling pool with the hot, bright sun in my face, lazily reading Donna Hay magazine issue 51 to be exact. I cut several pages from that issue and I’ll be mentioning some other dishes soon, but first I have to tell you about these cookie squares. They’re from an article about classic bars, or slices, ranging from lemon to chocolate peppermint, and they all looked delicious. What you see here are the first two I tried which were the filled crumble slice and the ginger crunch slice. In the article, the crumble slice was made with a fresh rhubarb filling. Rhubarb season is long gone here in the northern hemisphere, so I used preserves instead. These weren’t just any preserves though. My friend Stephanie has started a new business called Confituras selling her amazing preserves, jams, pickles, and all manner of confitures. Everything is made with locally sourced ingredients, and if you can’t make it to the farmers’ markets or local shops where jars are sold, you can order online. Her lovely ginger pear preserves were delicious in these crumble bars.
The cookie base was made with sugar, flour, baking powder, egg and melted butter. It was pressed into a pan and baked until golden. I spread twelve ounces of ginger pear preserves over the base and then added the crumble topping made by rubbing cold butter into flour and sugar with your fingertips. It went back into the oven for another 40 minutes. These were rich, little squares, and the bits of pear with ginger flavor in the preserves made a nice fruit layer in the middle.
The second cookie bar, and the one shown below, was called ginger crunch. The base for this one was made more like a pastry crust. Cold butter was pulsed in a food processor into a mixture of flour, baking powder, sugar, and ground ginger until crumbly, and then that combination was pressed into a baking pan and baked for about 30 minutes. Once cool, it was topped with a thick glaze made by melting butter with honey and more ground ginger, and then whisking in confectioners’ sugar. I actually ran out of ground ginger and only had about a teaspoon to use rather than the full one and a half tablespoons suggested for the glaze, so I used a little grated, fresh ginger as well. These squares were crunchier than the crumble bars, and the glaze was rich and buttery and fragrant with ginger. Both of these cookie squares are classics for a reason. They're easy to bake and to serve, and I know I'll be making them both again.