If you love all the warm spices of fall–ginger, cinnamon and cloves–these Spicy Hermit Bars are the “cookie” for you. It’s a New England “classic”.
Today’s post is a guest post by a long-time Barbara Bakes and Pressure Cooking Today reader, and my virtual friend, Carol. Carol loved these Spicy Hermit Bars so much she shared the recipe with me, and I asked if she’d share it with you. Luckily she agreed. Take it away Carol:
~~ ♥ ~~
I’ll confess, I’m a recipe-a-holic. I read cookbooks like some people read novels and have binders full of recipes I’ve printed off the internet and cut out of magazines and newspapers. I also have a folder full of pieces of paper with handwritten recipes and notes I’ve scribbled while creating recipes and watching cooking shows on TV.
Every once in a while, I run across a recipe that sounds so good, I can’t stop thinking about it until I get into the kitchen and try it. This cookie is one of those recipes.
I was watching “The Chew” a few weeks ago, and saw Ina Garten make the most delicious looking Hermit Bars from her new cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey. All of the hosts raved about how good they were–and boy, did they look delicious.
I knew right away that I had to try them–and soon. I’ve been making Hermit Bars for years, but Ina’s recipe really caught my attention. Not only are they full of warm spices, like cinnamon and cloves, they also use 2 kinds of ginger, powdered and crystallized. That was a new twist that I knew would make these something special.
As the bars baked, the house filled with the heavenly aroma of the holidays. While the bars were still slightly warm, Ina drizzled a simple glaze over them, and sprinkled freshly grated lemon zest over the top. I chose to stir the lemon zest into the glaze so that it would be more evenly spread out over the bars, giving a touch of lemon flavor to each slice.
Oh my goodness, are these soft, chewy bars a treat. The molasses, cinnamon, ginger and cloves add warmth, while the sweetness of the raisins balances with the pungency of the double dose of ginger perfectly.
That crystallized ginger really takes these to a whole new level of deliciousness. You can’t taste the rum in the glaze at all, but if you prefer not to use it, substitute milk instead. Don’t skip the lemon zest though–that pop of citrus seals the deal.
Spicy Hermit Bars are the perfect side kick to a cup of coffee, tea, or a glass of ice cold milk. Another plus, when stored airtight, they stay soft and chewy for a week or more.
I’ve made these 4 times since I initially made the recipe. Everyone that has tried them has fallen in love with them.
I’m starting the list of cookies that will be appearing on my Christmas Cookie trays this year and this one is in the #1 slot. It’s become a favorite at our house-I hope it becomes a favorite at yours too.
Thanks so much for having me over to guest post, Barbara.
Happy baking everyone!
Spicy Hermit Bars
- ½ cup 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup light brown sugar lightly packed
- 1 large egg room temperature
- ¼ cup molasses
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves
- ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ cup regular OR golden raisins
- ⅓ cup crystallized ginger not in syrup, finely minced
- ½ cup confectioner's sugar sifted
- 1 tablespoon plus 2-3 teaspoons dark rum or milk
- Grated zest of ¼-1/2 lemon depends on the size of the lemon
- Place the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy.
- With the mixer on low speed, beat in the egg. Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the molasses and vanilla and beat until well mixed.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, mixing until just combined. Mix in the raisins and crystallized ginger.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes, long enough for it to become easy to handle.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured board, form it into a disk with lightly floured hands and cut the dough in half. I weighed the dough before cutting to be sure I'd get 2 even amounts.
- Roll each half into a log 12" long. Place the logs 3" apart on the prepared pan. Bake @ 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until the logs are golden brown. They will still be soft in the center. Let the logs sit on the pan for 5-10 minutes, then slide them, still on the paper, onto a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, whisk the confectioners' sugar with enough rum (or milk) to make a glaze of drizzling consistency. Stir in the grated lemon zest. While the logs are still warm (not super hot right out of the oven), drizzle the glaze back and forth across the logs with a teaspoon.
- Allow the bars to cool completely and the glaze to set. Slide the logs off the parchment paper and onto a cutting board. Cut each log crosswise into 1 ¼-1 ½-inch wide bars.
Excellent! My bars look just like the ones pictured. They’re nicely cracked on top and moist and chewy inside. Very gingery! I followed the recipe for the most part but used half dark brown sugar and half light brown sugar, plumped the raisins in the MW with a bit of rum, and chopped but didn’t mince the crystallized ginger. They were done in 20 minutes with the oven set at 350°. Definitely 5 star!
Thanks for sharing your changes Sadie. Glad they were a big hit!
I agree with changing the baking temp to 350 from 375. I also soaked the raisins in rum first.
I just made these amazing cookies. I changed two things. #1 I made them into drop cookies by using an ice cream scoop and flattened them with wet fingers to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Baked them at 375* for 13 minutes. #2 I didn’t have a lemon so I subbed an orange. Delicious. The recipe done this way made 18 big cookies.
Hi Barbara. These !Look great! The “log” is 12 inches by perhaps 4? Inches? Is it really a log? More like a plank? If you could help me understand the dimensions a bit better I’d appreciate it! Definitely making these for Christmas! Thank you so much!
Hi Chris – I think it starts as a 12 inch round log and then flattens as it bakes, so you don’t need to worry about shaping it. Merry Christmas!
Lorraine @Not Quite Nigella
I had to chuckle at the name-hubby is a total hermit at times! I think he’d like these both for the name and the flavours 😀
What do these cookies taste like? Are they similar to a chewy molasses ginger cookie?
Hi Ann – similarly spiced but they’re soft, chewy bars.
Great dessert for approaching festive days ! Thank you and have a pleasant day !
Velva-Tomatoes on the Vine
Love the warm spices of autumn and winter. I know I would love these holiday bars. They are beautiful. Perfect with a really good cup of coffee.
Thank you Barbara for sharing this recipe. Many years ago when I was growing up our local grocery store sold cookies in bulk by the pound. One of my favorites were the Hermit Cookies. I haven’t had these in decades and I am looking forward to baking up a batch!