When it comes to baked goods, especially those that I make myself, I tend to lean towards the simple variety, the comfort foods of baked goods, if you will. You know, stuff that your grandma probably makes – nothing over-the-top but just simple, maybe elegant, home baking.
So, when I found an old recipe for hermit bars, clipped out of a newspaper years ago and shoved in the “recipes I might one day find again” box, I instantly desired to make them. If you haven’t had hermit bars – and, it’s surprising how many people haven’t – they’re typically a chewy molasses cookie in bar form, usually (hopefully) with raisins. Mine turned out quite well, if I do say so myself – thick, chewy, a bit spicy, and with a satisfactory hermit-to-raisin ratio (read: raisin in every bite).
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth, leaving no chunks of butter. It is essential that your butter be at room temperature for this to work out. Next, add the molasses and keep mixing until incorporated. Add eggs, one at a time, until smooth.
Combine dry ingredients separately, making sure that all the spices, baking powder, and baking soda are evenly distributed. Beat the dry ingredients, 1/2 cup at a time, into the wet batter. Don’t overmix – you want everything to be just incorporated. Stir in raisins. Batter will be sticky.
For THIN hermit bars (a la picture), transfer batter to an 11×16″ buttered baking dish. Bake for 22-25 minutes.
For THICK hermit bars (this is what I want), transfer batter to a 9×13″ buttered baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes, checking after 22. A knife inserted into the middle should come out clean. They should be firm to the touch, but slightly undercooked in the middle for optimal chewyness. They may look a bit poofy upon taking them out of the oven, but will settle a bit after cooling.
WARNING: you will want to devour these immediately after they come out of the oven, because your house has been filled with a warm, spicy, cinnamony aroma for the last half hour. Whatever you do, DON’T GIVE IN. Wait unil these are fully cooled to eat. Trust me.