This is one of the most addictive cookies I have ever eaten. The original recipes, which seems to be the norm in books and on the internet made a rather sodden, heavy cookie with no icing. Changing a few of the ingredients made one of the most moist, spicy cookies that last forever in a closed tin. The Lemon Glaze, which is the perfect foil for the spicy cookie and sprinkles are optional but add another dimension to the bars.
The bar on the left is the traditional bar, the one on the right is the updated version which is higher, lighter and more moist.
Making them even more attractive is the ease with which it is prepared. This has to be one of the easiest, most rewarding cookies ever. It can be cut into bars or cut those in half for a smaller cookie.
The key to these Hermit Bars is the molasses which I love. There are different strengths of molasses (sort of like rum, another favorite). There is mild or light which is the the least strong and the one I favor in most recipes. There is a dark molasses which is stronger and more pronounced and Blackstrap which really packs a kick. There is also sulphured and unsulphured. For a great article explaining molasses see this article by Kitchn.
I also made these with gluten free flour and, although they didn't rise quite as high they were equally delicious. I sent them to my gluten free son and he approved so need I say more?
Just keep theses Hermit Bars away from me. I ate at least half of these by myself in a couple of days. I would have done it in one day but Mike was watching!
Hermit Bars ½ cup butter, softened (114 grams, 1 stick or 4 ounces)
2 cups flour (280 grams or 10 ounces)*
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar (200 grams or 7 ounces)
⅓ cup light molasses
*For the gluten free variety, I used King Arthur's Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour. One cup of this flour weighs 125 grams so 2 ¼ cups of the Measure for Measure equals the 280 grams or 10 ounces of all purpose flour.
Line the bottom of a 9x13 pan or a quarter sheet pan with parchment. Spray the parchment and the sides of the pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, salt, cloves and nutmeg. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix in completely. Add the molasses and beat until combined. Add the flour and beat until combined, scraping often.
Scrape into the prepared pan and smooth with an offset spatula. Because this is a sticky batter, it is easiest if you use a damp spatula. I take my pan over to the sink area and run cold water on the spatula. I shake off the spatula to remove excess water and spread the batter. Repeat the wetting of the spatula as often as it takes to smooth and even out the batter.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Immediately upon removing them from the oven flatten the edges which will be higher with an offset spatula. Cool completely.
Go around the edges with a spatula to release them and turn the Hermits out. Leave them upside down.
1 ½ cups powdered sugar (200 grams or 7 ounces)
4 to 5 tablespoons lemon juice
Multi colored sprinkles, optional
Starting with 4 tablespoons of lemon juice, stir the powdered sugar and lemon juice together to create a glaze. If the glaze is too thick, add the remaining lemon juice a little at a time. Spread over the Hermits. Sprinkle with the sprinkles if using. Let the glaze dry – this may take 4 to 5 hours or longer if it is humid.
Trim the edges. Cut into 5 or 6 across and 4 down making 20 to 24 bars. The bars can be cut in half for petit four size.
Hermit Bars are about 1" tall