Ginger Crunch

ground ginger

Origins of recipes are often funny and some of the stories are doozies. Many are found in more traditional places, like handed over from friends and relatives, some are found in cookbooks, and others are our own creations. Then there are those that come from who-knows-where, such as the one I found on a men’s room wall.

And then there’s this one, which got handed to me during a book event and meet-up that I had in Paris when a lovely woman from New Zealand gave me a tube of Vegemite, along with a photocopy of the recipe, saying it was amazing. (Interesting that she said the recipe was amazing, but when she gave me the Vegemite, she only followed that with a hearty chuckle.)

ginger slice recipe ingredients

At the time I thanked her and put it in my bag, then it was transferred to my kitchen counter where it rested amongst a pile of papers that is optimistically called “recipes to try.” It languished there for, oh, maybe eight months, until I picked it up and gathered all the ingredients to make it. Then I promptly put them in the pan and placed them in a corner, where they languished together for another few months. Until I finally decided it was time to try it.

ginger slice dough

When I was in Australia, I was delighted by all the “slices” on offer, which are available at coffee shops and bakeries, such as caramel crunch, and their distant relative, Lamingtons. This ginger crunch is pretty simple to put together, although reading through the recipe, I thought about dialing up the spices, which I’m sure folks in Australia and New Zealand would approve of because they seem to like their food highly seasoned – as do I. But then I tasted the slices and realized they were right on the mark.

To all the folks out there wondering what they can use in place of the golden syrup, I’m both happy and sorry to say, that there’s nothing else similar. The reason I’m sorry is that you have to hunt some down – many well-stocked grocers have it, or you can find it online. But I’m happy to say that you’ll be thrilled to have that little green-and-gold tin in your life because once you taste it, you’ll wonder how you lived without golden syrup in your life before.

pressing dough for ginger slice

The original recipe called for a 20 x 30 centimeter “Lamington” pan, which – as much as I like Lamingtons – I didn’t feel like ordering from New Zealand. (Which is probably the only time in my life that I couldn’t justify buying a new piece of bakeware.) So I used a rectangular French tart pan, because I live in France and I’m trying to support my local tart pan makers. You could use an 8-inch (20cm) square cake pan in its place.

When I first bit down on one, it was somewhat familiar, but it so different from any other kind of bar cookie I know of. The base is crumbly and crisp, with the characteristics of a good shortbread, but with a firmness and crunch that pairs beautifully with the buttery, spicy topping. The word “addictive” comes to mind. And if it wasn’t for the 30-hour plane ride, I’d be making plans to go to New Zealand to try more “slices.”

So to that lovely woman who brought the recipe all the way to me, a big thanks and I’m glad I finally got around to making it. You were right!


As for that tube of Vegemite? I’m getting around to that soon. Uh, I promise…

Ginger Crunch
18 to 24 bar cookies

A little sleuthing revealed that the recipe I was given was perhaps from, or inspired by, the Ginger Crunch recipe from a cookbook produced Edmonds, a New Zealand company which produces baking powder. The Edmonds Cookery Book was first published in 1908.

I used a 13- by 4-inch (34cm x 10cm) rectangular tart pan but one could use another pan of similar dimensions. Such as an 8-inch (20cm) square cake pan or a 20 x 30 centimeter rectangular pan, which the original recipe called for. If using a cake pan, one neat trick is to line the bottom with a wide piece of foil leaving an overhang over the sides of the pan, then smoothing the sides and buttering the inside. Once the bars are finished, you should be able to lift the foil (and the bars) from the pan easily.

The dough may take a bit of coaxing to bring it together. If necessary, dampen your hands and knead the dough until it comes together. (It doesn’t need to be perfect.) Transfer the dough to the pan and use the heel of your hand to press it evenly into the bottom. Even if you think it looks goofy when patting it down, it will bake up nice and flaky.

Cookie base

  • 4 1/2 ounces (9 tablespoons, 125g) unsalted butter, room temperature (it should be very soft)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (100g)
  • 1 1/2 cup (210g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground dried ginger

2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons, 75g) butter, salted or unsalted
2 tablespoons golden syrup (see Note)
3/4 cup (90g) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon ground dried ginger

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC.) Butter a 13-inch rectangular tart pan or another pan (see headnote.)

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand in a large bowl, make the cookie base by creaming the butter with the sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger.

3. Mix the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture until well-combined. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead it until the dough is relatively smooth.

(If necessary, dampen your hands to add a bit of moisture to the dough, if it’s dry.)

4. Press the dough into the prepared pan and flatted the surface, then bake the dough for 20 minutes, until it’s light golden brown.

5. Five minutes before the dough is done, making the icing by heating the 2 1/2 ounces of butter and golden syrup in a small pan, then mix in the powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon ginger, stirring until smooth.

6. When you take the pan out of the oven, pour the warm icing over the cookie base. Let sit for about 20 to 30 minutes, then remove from the pan and slice while still slightly warm.

Note: The only substitutions I could imagine that might work for this recipe might be honey, since it has the same viscosity to golden syrup. Rice syrup is another possibility. If you do try it with another liquid sweetener, please share your results in the comments.

Related Recipes

Fruitcake Bars


Chocolate-Caramel Slice (Rhid-Baked)

Date Bars

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Slice (Chocolate Suze)


  • Will definitely be making these. The hands down best way to eat vegemite is on a hot well buttered crumpet. Yum!

  • Turned out just right. Perfect!
    Thanks David.

  • Ahhhh, ginger crunch! YUM! It brings back memories of growing up on a farm in New Zealand…..there was always slices of ginger crunch in the cake tins at home. The recipe comes exactly from the Edmonds Cookbook, the bible of cooking given to most young adults in NZ who are leaving home! You’re also ringht about the spices: dried ginger you find in NZ is MUCH more potent that the sad specimen you can find in Europe. I think I must rush and make some now that I see the mouth-watering photos of it!

  • I’ll be making these for dessert tonight. Can’t wait, I love ginger! Thanks for posting this.

  • I tried these out and since I’m also an american expat living in france without access to golden syrup, I subbed acacia honey and might I say they turned out addictingly delicious! I don’t know what the original version is supposed to taste like so I can’t say if honey is an adequate substitute for golden syrup in this recipe. The ginger wasn’t as explosive as I thought it would be so next time I might add some crystallized or even fresh ginger into the dough as some people already advised to give it a nice kick. My friends and neighbors were very enthusiastic to the OG recipe though. Thank you for sharing!!!

    • I don’t think honey quite does it – it has got to be golden syrup!! But then I’m a purist

  • I made these in an 8X8 cake pan and they’re wonderful! The cookie part is so yummy but the icing is too thick/sweet. Great ginger flavor but I think if I make them in this pan again, I’ll cut down the icing by half or maybe make it as a glaze, like on top of cinnamon rolls. Such an easy recipe and so good!

  • I’ve made these twice, they are excellent. I especially love the potent ginger flavor! I used honey in place of golden syrup, and the substitution worked well…although I do need to get my hands on some of the sticky stuff. And I need to make that fresh ginger cake of yours, David.

  • These are fabulous! I doubled the recipe and made it in a 9″ x 13″ quarter-sheet pan. Yield is 24 1″ x 4″ bars. I punched up the ginger, just cuz that’s what I do – probably by another 50%. Interestingly, I had bought some high-quality Icelandic butter in anticipation of a shortbread attack, so this post from you was perfectly timed, David.

    The cookie dough was a bit dry, and did not bake up as crunchy as I’d have liked – which argues, I think, for a little less flour next time. The dough held together very nicely, though, and has a tender crumb. I was afraid the icing would be gooey, but it dried to a lovely dull sheen.

    I’m already thinking about other flavors – like maybe lemon, orange-ginger, chocolate. Herbal flavors, like lemon & thyme might work nicely as well. Hazelnut would be lovely too, I think – maybe with a coating of chocolate ganache.

    Thanks, David, for another winner.


  • P.S add some chopped crystallized ginger to the base for a bit more indulgence.

    Below is a wonderful Ginger Crunch recipe that uses crystallized ginger and wholemeal flour – from Jo Seagar’s book The Cook School Recipes

    Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a 20cm X 30cm slice tin with baking paper

    150 g butter
    2 tablespoons golden syrup
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    3/4 cup long thread coconut
    1 1/2 cups rolled oats
    3/4 cup wholemeal flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    3 teaspoons ground ginger
    1 cup chopped crystallised ginger

    Melt butter, golden syrup and brown sugar over a low heat. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and pour in melted ingredients. Mix all together and press the mixture into the prepared tin.

    Bake for 20 minutes.

    100 g butter
    6 tablespoons golden syrup
    2 1/2 cups icing sugar
    3 teaspoons ground ginger

    Melt butter and golden syrup, beat in ginger and icing sugar. Pour over still-warm base.
    Chill before cutting into 24 pieces (I got 32 healthy size pieces!!)

  • I’m going to try making these GF – because I have to, if I want to try them, and I do. I really do. Living in Australia, I already have golden syrup on the shelf. A good substitute might be a little warmed treacle or molasses mixed into glucose (corn?) syrup. It won’t have the same taste, but it’ll be closer than honey, I imagine.

    Thank you for your wonderful blog! It’s always inspirational and entertaining, although it sounds as if it’s been at some cost to you lately. I hope 2013 is a happy year for you, with simple mobile access and plenty of USB ports.

  • David. You just made a slice in a tart pan. It’s beautiful, and hilarious. Wow you are so French.

    It’s so amusing to see people hunting for substitutes for golden syrup, after spending years trying to find corn syrup and masa harina and chipotle peppers in the Antipodeans. You’re right, there’s nothing quite like it. I use it as a substitute for pretty much every syrupy substance which I don’t have. I’ve used it in place of molasses many times – definitely not the same, but it works fine.

    • @Vidya, can I add dulce de leche and graham crackers to your list of ingredients rarely seen in these parts?

      I made ginger crunch yesterday. It’s perfect.

  • On the subject of Golden Syrup, it used to be available here in every supermarket you walked into, but now I can only find it on Amazon. I use it in my pecan pie, because I think corn syrup is an abomination – too cloying and mouth-drying.

    My pecan pie starts with a cup of sugar, caramelized, to which I add butter and heavy cream, then 2/3 cup of Lyle”s Golden Syrup. When that cools down, I add vanilla and eggs, and maybe a bit o’ rum or bourbon, then mix in toasted pecans, pour into a blind-baked pie shell, and bake until it’s puffed a bit, but still jiggly in the center. When folks taste it, they may not know exactly what’s different, but they know my pecan pie is a rare and wonderful thing. It was inspired by the chapter on pecan pie in John Thorne’s “Outlaw Cook”, in which he suggests that his readers not adopt his recipe, but that they look for their own perfect pecan pie.

  • Great recipes, as usual. You can find Golden Syrup at most Monoprix in Paris.

  • Great to see a classic kiwi recipe on your blog!! I used to make this all the time while growing up in New Zealand. I now live in The Netherlands and I use Maple Syrup in place of golden syrup. Its not as thick, but it has a delicious rich flavour. I blogger a couple of days ago about another Ginger kiwi classic – Ginger Gems. Monique xx

  • Off topic, but I wanted to thank you for sharing your vanilla ice cream recipe. I have guests coming over for ice cream this evening and I just realized that I loaned my copy of The Perfect Scoop to my sister-in-law. Thanks for saving the evening. : )

  • Ginger Crunch is my favourite of the many slices baked by NZers, followed a pretty close second by Louise Cake which has a similar cookie base (though no ginger) spread with a layer of jam (usually a tart one like raspberry or plum) and baked with a coconut meringue topping.

    • Louise Cake
      Kia ora, Here is the Edmond’s Cookery Book version of Louise Cake

      Louise Cake (From that old faithful and NZ cultural icon – the NZ Edmonds Cookery Book)

      50 (2 oz) grams butter
      25 grams (1 oz) of sugar
      2 eggs
      150 grams (5 oz) of flour
      1 tsp baking powder

      Heat oven to 180 c (350 F)
      Cream butter and sugar, add egg yolks and then sifted flour and baking powder. Roll out thinly, place on a greased tray and spread with raspberry or similar tart jam.

      Beat egg whites until stiff, add 125 gr sugar and 50 grams of dessicated coconut. Mix gently and spread on top of jam.

      Bake 30 minutes at 180 C


  • Incidently the Jo Seagar recipe posted above seems like a cross between Ginger Crunch and ANZAC biscuits and I’m not sure that’s all together a good thing.

  • these look divine! i have Lyle’s syrup around for making caramels. If you are in the U.S. you can get it from Amazon for a much better price than anywhere, probably. I buy 6 at a time from them and it is delivered to your house, of course, (or office). a good ingredient to have around. In Manhattan you can buy Lyle;s at Whole Foods. Loving your blog, David. Happy New Year.

  • I’ve made Ginger Crunch with freshly grated ginger and it was just as fabulous as using the dry ground ginger. Just use 2 tbsp in the base and 1 tbsp in the icing.

    My favourite recipe from the Edmonds Cookbook has to be Neenish Tarts YUM!!!

  • This recipe sounds delicious! I personally love ginger, so a ginger cookie sounds amazing. I’ll try to bake it at home with my mom. We also have “A Perfect Scoop” and I have to say that the ice cream is REALLY good and extremely addicting. I only just found this blog, but I will definitely be back for more recipes.

  • A kiwi friend baked ginger crunch for me in London 20 years ago (while watching an All Blacks game), I knew then I was destined to move to the home of these delights, which I did shortly after. I don’t make them often as I will consume the whole tray in one sitting – but know the cafés that sell the best ones when I want a treat.

    I see my sister has already commented – we shared one (very large) before she boarded her plane home to Boston – about the time you were writing your post!

  • Will surely give these a try! Made some Anzac biscuits last week and have managed to get ahold of golden syrup here in NY to make my old South African favorites.
    My question to you is: How do you keep the tin from getting sticky and stuck shut?
    Love your blog and downloaded the free app – thanks!

  • Oh Jan and Scott – I wasn’t in any way offering Jo Seagar’s take on Ginger Crunch as the original – just a variation that some readers may have liked to try. was only trying to helpful and contribute.

  • Heather, Jan, and Scott: I love Anzac biscuits (oatmeal, coconut and golden syrup? yes!) – so that does sound interesting. So many New Zealand desserts – and slices – to try… : )

    Caren: They actually make golden syrup in a squeeze bottle, and in other formats. But the tins are kinda pretty to have in your kitchen. You could swipe a bit of oil around the rim to help keep it from sticking, but I would just leave it alone because if the lid is too easy to get off, you might be putting a spoon it in a little too often…

    karen: Yes, the prices can vary and I don’t really know what it costs in the states (except on Amazon.) Since it keeps a very, very long time, it’s probably economical to stock up and perhaps find a friend to share the order with. I know it’s expensive here in France, but when I got to the UK, and when I was in Australia, I was surprised at how inexpensive it was – and yes, I stocked up.

    Valerie: Glad you liked the recipe…and are enjoying my ice cream book!

  • Fresh hot toast, lavishly buttered, a smear of Vegemite, then topped with thinly sliced tomato….. bliss! Or topped with avocado, or a fried or poached egg. All great for breakfast or a little mid-day snack :)

  • I tried this recipe and used honey instead of golden syrup. That worked just fine; though golden syrup will definitely add something extra. I was only wondering why there is so much ground ginger in the recipe, in stead of freshly grated ginger. I found that the dried ginger gives the slice a rather funky taste. It maybe relies on the brand I used, but I won’t try this recipe again as it is, with the same ginger. The cookie base is delicious though.

    • I love fresh ginger, but I don’t think you can get the powerful ‘zing’ of fresh ginger in sufficient quantities like you can with dried ground ginger. It is a different taste; I did use a bag of dried ginger that was recently purchased so perhaps your ground dried ginger is different somehow.

  • How does one measure a tablespoon of golden syrup? By weight?

  • Happy New Year!

    Once again, a winner!
    After serving half of this, I drizzled the remaining half with a little on-the-fly chocolate glaze, which was pretty darned delicious with the ginger.
    Thank you for another good one!

  • Mmmm, ginger crunch!! I’ve just bought Billy Law’s new cook book. You might like to try his vegemite cheesecake, David: Sounds intriguing and it’s on my list next time I’m called upon for a dessert!

  • Peanut butter flavored Vegemite is easily achieved by spreading a thick layer of the former and a thin film of Vegemite on top. :>

  • One of the nicest variations of ginger crunch I have tried has chopped brazil and hazelnuts in the base and preserved ginger (unsugared on outside if poss. You can soak it in warm water to dissove some of it) in with the icing. Mix in before pouring the icing on the base.
    If I want thicker icing, I use another 1/2 quantity (double is a bit rich)
    And yes, up the ginger for a more intense hit. Try xtra 1/2 quantities.
    There are recipes online for making golden syrup, but pure maple syrup is 40% less sweet than sugar. Organic icing sugar has a lovely caramelly flavour.

  • oh David, if you like Anzac biscuits and ginger crunch, you should try ginger Anzac biscuits! I use the standard Edmonds Cookbook recipe with around 1-2 tablespoons of ground ginger added (I do love ginger though) – they are very popular at my place!
    As for that vegemite – try it thinly spread on toast with avocado mashed on top, or on a baguette with heaps of butter (nothing better!).

  • My dear neighbor Phoebe, makes some crackerjack ginger crisps for teatime. I’ll have to make these for our next gathering, as a surprise. She’s never met a ginger treat she didn’t like. Thank you David.

  • Ginger crunch is supposed to be cut quite small. The people who are commenting that there is too much icing, or it is too sweet, and even those who plan on having it for dessert – it is a cookie substitute, not a large-wedge-of-cake substitute. Should be cut into maybe 2 inch squares, and eaten with a cup of tea or coffee.
    Also, the texture should not be like shortbread. Shortbread should give very little resistance to your teeth, and should melt in your mouth; ginger crunch crunches. Rolled oats are a nice addition to the base too.

  • You’re right. We Australians love our slices! I grew up eating lemon slice, chocolate slice, caramel slice, raspberry & coconut slice… but this ginger slice was & still is our favourite. As for the vegemite. Don’t be shy! Spread some on your lovely morning toast with thick butter & you’ll be in heaven. Promise!

  • Golden syrup is available at some of the Marche Franprix in Paris where they usually have a small selection of English products.

  • I made my first batch of ginger crunch last night for my boyfriend, who’s a ginger-phile. He loved them! He wants more ginger, but I think the recipe is perfect as is. I think less is more in this case. It’s definitely going into my repertoire. Thank you for posting this recipe!

  • Well David I just made your Ginger Crunch. OMG it is delicious and I’m Australian and I’m fairly sure I’ve never had a piece of this slice. Yes you say Australia is well known for our slices and I am also well known for my slices. I’ve just got a new recipe to add to my slices folder. I might just go and have another piece nobody is watching me! :-)

    • Kerry, the reason why you, as an Australia, have never tasted this is it is a New Zealand recipe. Yes, good things come from New Zealand, they really do

      • Hi Jan I have been to NZ for a holiday about 4 years ago and there was a lot to like about NZ. I don’t know why NZ always gets a bad rap we had only good things to say and now I can add Ginger Crunch to more good things. cheers

  • ginger crunch in a tart pan. perfect, i’m going to do it today. i’m a new zealander living in belgium and this post and all the comments have been a great trip down memory lane. the edmonds cook book, baking, golden syrup…… my little sister and i woud make ginger crunch and double the icing recipe just to eat it right away. baking used to be very important when i grew up in small town NZ in the 60’s when ‘full cake tins’ were a sign of a well managed household. and handy for the casual drop in socialising we kiwis like to do.

  • … above I mentioned that I also posted recently about something related – traditional New Zealand Ginger Gems, a quick and easy but delicious baking treat. The link I posted has been updated (I changed my blog website) but you can check out the Ginger Gems here …

  • Being from the UK, I often use golden syrup in American recipes that call for corn syrup, as I actually have no real idea of what corn syrup is, I suppose. I’d be interested to know how interchangeable you consider them?

  • Wow it is amazing that you are featuring ginger crunch, what is often seen as a humble little nz slice. Its definitely not australian- although it is common in NZ and i reckon nearly every kiwi will have heard of it/tasted it. There is a lovely nz book on traditional home baking by alexa johnson, called ladies, a plate, if you ever wanted more NZ baking recipes.

  • Potentially try a mixture of half maple
    syrup half treacle instead of golden syrup? That should get the viscosity about right!

  • As an earlier poster said, ginger crunch is usually cut in small squares (like most slices here in NZ) not bars. But I double the icing quantity so it is really nice and thick.

    re measuring the tablespoon of golden syrup – dipping the spoon in boiling water first will help the golden syrup drop off the spoon easily.

    Thanks David for your wonderful posts. NZ is worth a visit – I’ve done the 30 hours straight through from Paris and it is horrendous – but a warm welcome for you when you get here!!

  • For a thrilling moment I wondered if it was going to be a vegemite and ginger cookie recipe! But great stuff anyway

  • Hey David, just wanted to let you know that I made this (twice, now) and it turned out fantastic. You were spot on when you described it as so familiar yet somehow so exotic. I used honey instead of golden syrup, and although I wouldn’t know the difference seeing as I’ve never tried anything else, I thought it tasted wonderful. However, I didn’t find it very crunchy…not sure if that top caramel-like icing is supposed to be crunchy in the original version or not, just thought I’d throw that out there.

    • Hullo,Jan (the original donor of the recipe from New Zealan here).
      The ‘crunch’ part of the name comes from the shortbread. The icing can harden if you use golden syrup and if the weather is right (dry, not humid). Hope this helps

      also; Vegemite is mentioned in a famous Australian song by Men at Work – Downunder
      Lyrics below:
      Down Under Lyrics – Men at Work

      Review The Song (11)

      Traveling in a fried-out combie
      On a hippie trail, head full of zombie
      I met a strange lady, she made me nervous
      She took me in and gave me breakfast
      And she said,

      “Do you come from a land down under?
      Where women glow and men plunder?
      Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?
      You better run, you better take cover.”

      Buying bread from a man in Brussels
      He was six-foot-four and full of muscles
      I said, “Do you speak-a my language?”
      He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich
      And he said,

      “I come from a land down under
      Where beer does flow and men chunder
      Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?
      You better run, you better take cover.”

      Lyin’ in a den in Bombay
      With a slack jaw, and not much to say
      I said to the man, “Are you trying to tempt me
      Because I come from the land of plenty?”
      And he said,

      “Do you come from a land down under?
      Where women glow and men plunder?
      Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?
      You better run, you better take cover.”

      Living in a land down under
      Where women glow and men plunder
      Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?
      You better run, you better take cover!

      Living in a land down under
      Where women glow and men plunder
      Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?
      You better run, you better take cover!

  • This is so great! I’ve been eating these since I can remember and I always wondered when I’d finally see them being made outside our country. It’s my mothers all time favorite baked good so I find myself making a batch every other week! I hope you get to come to NZ one day soon and see everything else we make down here :-)

  • David, I am so excited! I’ve been wanting to make this since you posted. I’ve been looking all over for Golden Syrup and finally found it this am at Cost Plus! It’s in a squeeze bottle!

  • David, I am such a fan of your blogs and recipes. Your recipes always turn out exactly as I expect. I made these ginger crunch’s last night and they are seriously good! Thanks a ton.

  • Made them gluten free, added some chopped candied ginger to the batter and used maple syrup for the golden syrup .Holy cow they’re good.

  • I made this recipe last night. Amazingly delicious. We ate them with a good pinot noir
    I used Penzey’s ground ginger, and their products are very fresh and strong, so they could have done with a pinch less in the frosting. My husband thinks that idea is foolish…