Hermit Bars – a heavily spiced chewy cookie studded with golden raisins and walnuts.
I’m currently re-reading back issues of Cook’s Illustrated. Staying true to its name, the back page of each month displays illustrated drawings of a specific variety of culinary ingredient or food category. The current issue in my hand is sporting an illustration of “Classic American Cookies.” I scan the line-up and check off the usual suspects– chocolate chip – yep, peanut butter – made them, oatmeal raisin – of course, snickerdoodles – baked my first batch at 12 . They took liberty with some. Outside of Oreos, is “chocolate sandwich” truly an American classic? Then one lumpy, Cliff-bar looking cookie catches my eye – Hermit Bars. Whaaaa??? What the hell is that? I’ve never heard of a hermit bar. Where could this hermit have been hiding all these years? A bit of cookie wiki and I soon learn they came from the New England area and, although ingredients differ, seem to be a chewy, heavily spiced cookie, similar to gingerbread – with any combination of raisins, currants, dates and walnuts.
What have I been missing? Well, a lot, it turns out.
These cookies are a heavily spiced, chewy bar cookie studded with golden raisins and walnuts.
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon (scant) cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 cups All-purpose flour
- ½ cup molasses
- 1 cup golden raisins, softened in boiling water
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- 3 Tablespoons turbinado sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw)
- ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13×9” pan.
- In a large bowl, beat together melted butter and sugar until combined and smooth. Beat in egg, spices, salt and baking soda. Gently stir in flour (batter will by dry) then add the molasses and beat just until fully incorporated. Stir in the raisins and walnuts.
- Pat dough evenly into prepared pan and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes until just set. Do not over-bake. You want the final bars to be chewy. Cool completely before cutting. Combine confectioner’s sugar with enough water to make a glaze. Drizzle over cut bars.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour