Martha Stewart’s cookbook, Martha’s American Food, A celebration of our nation’s most treasured dishes, from coast to coast, features these Hermit Bars from the northeast. Their name gives little clue to their taste, other than to suggest that if you hide these bars away for a day or two as a hermit might do, you’ll be rewarded with an even deeper melding of flavors in these bars. The bars’ ingredient list is reminiscent of holiday baking—ginger, cloves and cinnamon—but don’t wait until the holidays to make these. The spices are not overwhelming, rather they come together with the help of molasses and brown sugar along with the usual standbys of butter, flour, baking soda, salt and egg to make an easy afternoon treat.
I chose to make the bars for their hermit quality: cookies & bars that age well are perfect for sending in the mail, which I occasionally do for my grandmother. The bars are also ideal to make on a weekend then to enjoy throughout the week in packed lunches. With school starting just around the corner, I am hoping my younger son will find these a special midday dessert.
The bars are baked similarly to biscotti, in a long log of dough which sits on a parchment-lined baking pan. This method, as opposed to pressing the dough into an 8 x 8 baking pan, allows the loaf-like log to spread and rise slightly, then later it’s cut into bars.
For the original recipe, click here for Martha Stewart’s site. I won’t repeat the recipe here other to add that this recipe is easily changed to fit your tastes. I switched out the cloves for a touch of nutmeg and next time I’ll add other dried fruits like dried cherries or apricots to accompany the raisins.
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