These are about as gingery as you can get, so be forewarned if you're not a ginger lover. Actually, these bar cookies tend to convert people to the pleasures of ginger—the bars are made with dried ground ginger and crystallized ginger, so they offer a strong ginger flavor, but very little burn. Lemon zest in the bars and lemon juice in the glaze add a note of contrast.
My friend Kyra Effren gave me the recipe that inspired these bars years ago. Her mother's friend Doreen would stop by Kyra's mother's Cape Town home occasionally for a visit, always bringing a plate of her lemon-iced ginger bars. When asked repeatedly for the recipe, Doreen always changed the subject, until one day, the plate of bars was accompanied with the neatly written recipe.
The original recipe called for stem ginger preserved in syrup and chopped candied cherries. This one is a simplified version that tastes every bit as good as the original. We think even Doreen would like them.