I seem to be on a Barefoot Contessa kick lately, most of the new recipes I've tried are from her. She's, by far, my favorite cookbook author so I suppose it makes sense that I turn to her cookbooks when I want to try something new. As she has a Food Network show, I get inspiration from watching her, too. These bars come from her new cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey. When I first perused the book I saw the recipe but pretty much passed over it. Then I saw her make them on one of her shows. They looked so good! I had to wait a while to make them as I couldn't find crystallized ginger at any of my favorite grocery stores. I ordered some online from Penzeys and made these the next day!
If you like gingerbread, you will like these bars. They are spicier than a traditional gingerbread cookie. They are very flavorful and the addition of the rum glaze adds even more flavor. The texture of them reminds me of a soft biscotti. I served them to my book club, took the leftovers to work ,and they were gone in a flash!
My only disappointment in the recipe is that my bars spread a lot more than the picture in her cookbook shows. The recipe calls for refrigerating the dough before forming them into bars. The next time I bake them I will refrigerate them a second time, after the bars are formed. I refrigerate my cut-out sugar cookies before baking and it helps them not to spread and lose their shape. That should work for these bars, too.
Spicy Hermit Bars
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger (not in syrup)
1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
Dark rum (I used Myers)
Grated lemon zest
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Place the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the egg, scrape down the bowl, then mix in the molasses.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, mixing just until combined. Mix in the raisins and crystallized ginger. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured board, form it into a disk with lightly floured hands, and cut it in half. Roll each half into a log 12 inches long and place them 3 inches apart on the prepared sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes; the logs will still be soft in the center.
Meanwhile, whisk the confectioners' sugar with 5 to 6 teaspoons rum to make a pourable glaze. While the logs are still warm, drizzle the glaze back and forth across the logs with a teaspoon and sprinkle them with lemon zest.
Allow to cool. Cut each log crosswise into 1 1/2-inch wide bars.