January 15, 2012

Before having children, I would say I was a champion sleeper.  My head hit the pillow at night and off I went into dreamland, only to be awakened by my alarm clock (and a couple snooze buttons pushings) the next morning.  My freshman year of college, I lived at one end of campus and on the weekends, meals were only served at the other end.  Brunch stopped being served at 1pm and it was a struggle of superhuman proportions to get there before they pulled the food.  At 1pm.  And I did not drink in college.  It’s hard for me to even imagine (both of those things) now.

Because now, things are a little different.  First of all, I have these kids.  But I can’t really blame any sleeplessness on them.  My boys are great sleepers.  They go to sleep without a peep and, barring a bloody nose or a tummy ache, stay asleep until around 7 the next morning.  They even now will creep out of their rooms and go into the TV room for some PBS or Disney channel before I can rouse myself.

Maybe it’s the months of waking in the middle of the night to breastfeed, maybe it’s the worry that comes along with being a mother, maybe it’s getting older, but I’m not nearly as good a sleeper as I used to be.  Sometimes it takes me a good couple of hours to fall asleep.  Sometimes I fall asleep fine but then wake at 3am and feel wide awake even though I know exhaustion is waiting for me as soon as the day dawns.  Some people say that if you can’t sleep, you should change your environment – go to another room and read with a low light.  But usually I am too cold to leave my warm bed and so I just lay there awake, thinking about food and cooking.

Some people count sheep, I go over recipes for my week.  I had one of those nights earlier this week, right before I had planned to make these bars.  Even though December has passed us by, I am not quite ready to give up gingerbread and I was intrigued by the combo of gingerbread and white chocolate.  In my sleepless state, I remembered reading that you were supposed to make these bars in a 17×12 baking sheet.  That seemed awfully large to me and so, because I had nothing better to do except, well, sleep, I thought about other options.  13×9 would be too small, the bars too thick.  How about a 15×10-inch pan traditional jelly roll pan?  What if I made them in cake pans and cut them into wedges instead of rectangles?  Yes, the boredom of thinking about pan sizes did eventually put me to sleep.

When I was ready to make the bars, I opted for the jelly roll pan.  And I am very glad I did.  I can’t imagine this amount of batter filling any larger pan and even if I was able to spread the batter to within an inch of its life, they would have been very thin, very sad little bars.  In the properly sized pan, they came out just the right thickness and the bars have a perfect soft bite, like a brownie, but with a lovely spice and a tiny bit of crunch from the white chocolate bits.  Say what you will about white chocolate, I think it’s really nice from time to time.  I find that, even more so than dark chocolate, quality plays a huge role in the taste and creaminess of white chocolate.  I used Lindt in these bars and I thought it was terrific.

One Year Ago:  Baked Tofu with Peppers and Olives
Two Years Ago:  Oatmeal Carmelitas

Gingerbread-White Chocolate Blondies
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen, depending on how you cut them

2¾ cups plus 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1¼ tsp. baking soda
1¼ tsp. salt
1¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1¼ cups packed light brown sugar
½ cup plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1¾ cups coarsely chopped best-quality white chocolate (10 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Coat a 15 by 10-inch rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Allow a couple inch overhang of the parchement on each of the short sides.  (I used the wrappers from the butter to coat my pan.)

Whisk together the flour, soda, salt, and spices in a bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until creamy and pale, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs and yolk, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add vanilla and molasses and mix on medium speed until combined.  Add flour mixture on low speed until combined.  Stir in the white chocolate.

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and bake until golden on edges, about 25 minutes.  Let cool completely in pan.  Using the “handles” of the parchment, remove the bars from the pan and cut into even squares or rectangles.  Blondies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.


  1. There is something that comes with children, I think, that makes getting restful sleep a challenge. I hate to think it comes with age…but perhaps it does. It is not uncommon for me to awake at 4:30 or 12:30 or 3:00 with thoughts of baking or sausage or what to have for dinner. Completely bizarre.

    The bottom line is… I can relate.

    Comment by merry jennifer — January 15, 2012 @ 12:41 am

  2. Hi Dana, these look amazing! I’m going to give them a try today, but I’m unsure about the unsulfured molasses as I’ve never heard of it before. I have golden syrup, will that substitute?

    Comment by Lis — January 15, 2012 @ 2:24 am

  3. don’t call me before 9 am because I am sleeping. xo

    Comment by stacey snacks — January 15, 2012 @ 3:39 am

  4. Yeah..I’m in the same boat. I used to be able to sleep through an atomic bomb and now I wake at the sound of a pin drop. I think its a MOM thing. Love these bars!!

    Comment by leslie — January 15, 2012 @ 4:32 am

  5. I too was a champion sleeper before having kids, and now I struggle with sleeplessness. Thinking about recipes sounds like a good idea at night – more fun than counting sheep!

    Gingerbread and white chocolate sounds like a nice combination. Thanks for the suggestion!

    Comment by Beth — January 15, 2012 @ 11:02 am

  6. Mmm these sound so yummy!

    Comment by Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — January 15, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

  7. Hi Lis. I don’t think golden syrup would work. I know some people use that as a substitute for corn syrup, but not molasses. Any kind of molasses would be fine. You need the thickness and also the flavor is important for any kind of gingerbread type thing.

    Comment by dana — January 15, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

  8. I so relate to the sleeping thing. It is amazing the things that come into my mind to be gnawed on at 3AM. I think worrying over baking pans would be much preferable than some of the things I end up worrying over. Great idea – as are these lovelies.

    Comment by Charlotte — January 15, 2012 @ 5:40 pm

  9. I mull over recipes when I can’t sleep too. Sometimes I wonder I do that when I can’t sleep or if thinking about food is what’s keeping me awake. I think it’s a little bit of both. These blondies are certainly enough to keep me up at night!

    Comment by Rachel — January 15, 2012 @ 5:54 pm

  10. I made this last Christmas for friends and neighbors and they are ridiculously delicious! (And rich!)

    That whole MS cookie book is terrific. I’ve baked at least 15 recipes from there to great result.

    Comment by Erin — January 15, 2012 @ 5:59 pm

  11. I am a TERRIBLE sleeper now, I can hardly wait to see what kids will do to me! While not the biggest white chocolate fan, these look incredible. I never really understood why gingerbread was so holiday-esque… are ginger and molasses not appealing any other season? Excited for a day with lots of friends to share with to make these.

    Comment by sara — January 15, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

  12. Ugh well if having kids makes you a WORSE sleeper…then I’m doomed. I pretty much wake up at 6AM every morning, without fail. Even when I travel, I wake up at six. My body somehow senses the time change. It’s so weird.

    I think about food too when I can’t sleep and always have a cookbook next to my bed to peruse.

    I’m still totally in a gingerbread kinda mood and the white chocolate combination with it definitely intrigued me when I saw it in a few cookie recipes this year. I’m so glad it was as delicious as you’d hoped!

    Comment by Joanne — January 16, 2012 @ 1:50 am

  13. My kids are teens and now they sleep longer than I wish I could, I miss those days being a teen andsleeping for 12 hours or more, now I can barely get 5 or 6 hours sleep, damn hormones… a warm glass of milk and your gingerbread barsand I would be in lala land for sure!

    Comment by Moore Or Less Cooking — January 16, 2012 @ 2:11 am

  14. White chocolate is a fabulous flavour option! I made some white chocolate and lemon cookies a while back, which were probably the best cookies I ever baked. SO good.

    Also, apporp post because I had a grand total of 1.5 hours sleep last night. I just get to worrying though – which is so unhealthy and so unness. Much better to contemplate pan sizes!

    Comment by Em (Wine and Butter) — January 16, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

  15. I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for ages!! Looks gorgeous and I think I need to get a jelly roll pan. As for sleeping, I’m lousy at it. My husband is a pro and can probably continue to sleep for hours and hours after he should be getting up. Me, 7 hours a night tops.

    Comment by kickpleat — January 17, 2012 @ 12:46 am

  16. Comically, I am currently up reading this because I cannot sleep. This, despite the fact that my little guy (8 months) was up all night last night. But if I am up again tonight I will think about how I want to make these yummy bars :)

    Comment by Jennifer — January 17, 2012 @ 6:04 am

  17. 1. OMG at this recipe – it’s amazing, it will be on my pinterest page so I can try it.

    2. I was a FANTASTIC sleeper prior to Naja, and now, I wake up randomly in the middle of the night as if I think something happened to her (she’s always fine). SIGH. I hope I return to normal sleep patterns.

    3. Since I do wake up, I love the idea of meal planning during the sleepless nights :) Thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Monique — January 17, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

  18. I have a serious thing for these bars! The molasses and white chocolate combination was something I just loved. After seeing them today, I’m going to have to make them again soon. And, now I’m wondering what size pan I used…

    Comment by lisaiscooking — January 17, 2012 @ 9:59 pm

  19. After having my two girls, my sleep was messed up for years. Ithink it’s something to do with a constant feeling of responsibility plus years of kids waking up in the night didn’t help! Lately I’ve settled into a bit of a rhythm again and while I might not sleep well every night it feels so much better. I’ll have to try planning meals the next time I can’t sleep!

    Comment by Luann — January 18, 2012 @ 2:13 am

  20. I don’t get why people can be so against white chocolate! I absolute love it, and especially love baking with it.

    Comment by Clara — January 18, 2012 @ 3:58 am

  21. I made these for my husband to take into work the other day. They were a huge hit. Thanks!

    Comment by Cathy — January 20, 2012 @ 8:23 pm

  22. Those look so amamzing! I love anything gingerbread! I have heard that Martha has good cookie and bar recipes, and I bet these would be great around the holidays!

    Comment by luv what you do — May 30, 2012 @ 11:45 am

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