These chewy ginger cookie bars improve with age (hence the name hermits) making the ultimate Holiday Cookie.
Hermits are perfectly crispy around the edges and perfectly chewy in the middle. Not too spicy, and not too sweet.
I’m not usually a fan of dried fruit in cookies, but it adds interesting texture and flavor. Feel free to add a teaspoon or two of chopped crystallized ginger if you’d like to kick up the spice.
Chewy Ginger Hermit Bars (Double batch)
(See attached recipe card for new and improved single batch)
Makes 80 – 96 bars
1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, room temperature (I love Kerrygold – great price at Trader Joe’s)
2 cups (403g) granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup unsulfured molasses (I use Grandma’s Molasses)
4 cups (550g) bleached all-purpose flour, plus more for board
3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoons ground cloves
½ cup (76g) dried apricots
½ cup (57g) dried, unsweetened cherries
½ cup (52g) golden raisins
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, minced (optional)
Food grade gloves (I get mine from Costco – see pic below)
Pre-cut half sheets parchment paper (King Arthur Flour >>)
Soak apricots, cherries and raisins in boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain well and pat dry with paper towels. (You can omit this step, but especially if your dried fruit isn’t moist/fresh, plumping it will make for a better cookie)
Chop apricots and quarter or halve cherries to make all the fruit roughly the same size.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and spices.
In a stand mixer with a flat beater, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes.
Lower speed and add eggs, one at a time, and incorporate well. Scrape down bowl.
Add molasses and mix well. (Baking tip: Spray the measuring cup with canola oil spray or other neutral baking spray so that it comes out more easily)
On low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Don’t over-mix. (Reserve the bowl – see below)
Stir in (on the mixer’s lowest setting) the dried fruit and crystallized ginger.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 – 2 or up to 24 hours. (I think the molasses flavor gets a bit too strong when left overnight, so I think 1 to 2 hours is best.) I like to scrape the dough into the bowl I used for the dry ingredients—lined with plastic wrap—so that it’s easy to weigh and divide (see pics below).
Twenty minutes or more before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 325 degrees F Convection.
Line 4 Half Sheet Pans with parchment paper (not silpats because you will cut right on them).
Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured board. (This might be a bit hard to do, especially if it’s been refrigerated for long because the dough is quite sticky. So use a wooden spoon and/or gloves. With a bench scraper or sharp knife, divide the dough into 8 even pieces. (I put half the dough back in the fridge while I work so it doesn’t get too soft)
Working with one piece at a time, roll it into a ball on the board and then lengthen into a rope/log about 10 – 12 inches long and 1 inch wide. Use as little flour as necessary to stop the dough from sticking or falling apart. (I like using non-latex kitchen gloves for this job.) They will puff up and out a bit so place the two rolls about three inches apart.
Square off the sides and edges with a plastic ruler. (You can use the ruler to help you scoot them off the edge of the board onto the baking sheet if they’re too soft to lift – see pics below.)
Bake one tray at a time in the middle of the oven (for non-convection) or two sheets at a time in a convection oven for 18 – 22 minutes until the logs are golden but the middles are still soft to touch. Rotate and switch shelves after 14 – 15 minutes.
Sprinkle lightly with sugar as they come out of the oven.
Cool for about 10 to 15 minutes and then slide parchment onto a cutting board. Cut off crispy ends and cut each log crosswise with a sharp, serrated knife into 1 ½ inch wide bars. (10 – 12 per log) Slide parchment onto wire racks to cool completely. (This is where the Multiple Tiered Cooling Rack comes very much in handy!)
Store up to five days in an airtight container or freeze for up to three months. Believe it or not they will be even more delicious on day two or three.
GIFT IDEA: Stand upright in mason jars as Holiday or Hostess gifts.
Chewy Ginger Hermits
- stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment
- parchment paper sheets
- bench scraper optional
- plastic ruler optional
- ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature recommended: Kerrygold or other grass-fed
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar plus more for sprinkling
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 2 tablespoons (40g) unsulfured molasses recommended: Grandma's
- 2 tablespoons (30g) Lyle's Golden syrup or substitute molasses
- 2 cups (240g) all purpose flour unbleached or bleached, plus more for shaping
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch ground cloves
- ¼ cup (38g) dried apricots chopped
- ¼ cup (28g) dried cherries, unsweetened halved or quartered
- ¼ cup (26g) golden raisins (sultanas)
- 1 - 2 teaspoons crystallized ginger chopped (optional)
- Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and spices.
- In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes.
- Lower speed and add egg; mix until well incorporated. Scrape down bowl.
- Add molasses and golden syrup (if using) and mix well.
- On low speed, gradually add flour mixture and mix just until incorporated (don't over-mix).
- Stir in the dried fruit (on the mixer’s lowest setting).
- Scrape dough onto a large piece of plastic and wrap well; place in a ziploc and refrigerate 1 - 2 hours (or up to 24).
- Twenty minutes or more before baking, preheat oven to 350°F/180°C REGULAR or 325°F/160°C CONVECTION/FAN.
- With a bench scraper or sharp knife, divide the dough into 4 even pieces (I weigh the dough and divide by 4). Working with one piece at a time (refrigerate the rest), roll into a ball between your (lightly floured) hands and then lengthen on your lightly floured board into a rope/log about 12 inches/30 cm long and 1 inch/2 1/2 cm wide. Use bench scraper to help if it sticks and sprinkle a little flour on board and hands. Use as little flour as necessary to stop the dough from sticking or falling apart. Make sure to brush off any excess flour so it isn't bitter. (SEE MY YOUTUBE VIDEO FOR HOW TO DO THIS)
- Use a ruler or bench scraper to help scoot two rolls onto each prepared baking sheet, about 3 inches (7 1/2 cm) apart. (They will puff up and out quite a bit) Square off sides and edges with ruler or your fingers.
- Bake one tray at a time in the middle of the oven (for non-convection) or two sheets at a time in a convection oven for 18 – 22 minutes until the logs are golden but the middles are still soft to touch. Rotate and switch trays after 13 – 14 minutes.
- Place on a cooling rack and sprinkle with sugar while still hot (about 1 1/2 tablespoons for all).
- Cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then slide parchment onto a cutting board. With a sharp, serrated knife, cut off crispy ends on a slight diagonal, and cut each log crosswise, into 1 ½ inch/3 ½ cm wide bars (10 – 11 per log). Slide parchment onto wire racks to cool completely.
- Store up to five days in an airtight container or freeze for up to three months. Believe it or not they will be even more delicious on day two or three.
- A kitchen scissors works great for chopping the fruit into equal sizes.
- You can soak the fruit in boiling water for 20 minutes to plump it up. Drain and pat dry with paper towels and chop as directed.