A New England classic, these Chewy Hermit Bars are the perfect dessert to bake this holiday season. Similar to a blondie bar texture, these bars have a warm, spicy, sweet taste similar to that of gingerbread.
Ever since I was a little kid, hermit bars have always been a popular dessert here in Southeastern Massachusetts. All the local bakeries make them along with sweets like apple danish, blondies, chewy chocolate chip cookies, and raisin squares ( my next dessert to tackle).
My husband, in-laws, and parents love them so much, but I have never been a fan–until now!
The problem I have always had with hermit bars is that they are typically dry and kind of bland. My favorite types of desserts are moist and chewy. So, hermit bars have always been one of my least favorite baked goods.
But, I have found a way to make them chewy which is always appreciated! The addition of some fresh molasses, and food-grade clove extract helped to make these bars perfectly chewy.
What are Hermit Bars?
Hermit bars are a New England classic recipe. They are oven-baked and have rich, spicy notes of clove, ginger, cinnamon and molasses. They are typically made with raisins.
If you have never tried a hermit bar, they taste similar to a mix of soft baked gingerbread cookies and classic blondie brownies with a deep molasses flavor.
Ingredients in Hermit Bars
- All-purpose flour
- Light brown sugar
- baking soda
- unsulfured molasses
- sea salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
- clove (powdered or food-grade extract)
Tips for Making Hermit Bars
For this recipe, I recommend using a stand-mixer since the dough gets very sticky. You really want the power of the standmixer to get the ingredients combined well. Doing this by hand would surely be a workout.
The raisins are folded in by hand last.
I used an 8 x 8 Pyrex baking dish and lined it with parchment paper. you want at least a 2 inch overhang so you can easily remove the bars.
Since this dough is sticky, I recommend spraying the parchment paper with nonstick spray.
When you add your batter to the baking dish, you might want to spray your rubber spatula with nonstick spray before spreading.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bars comes out clean.
Allow bars to cool for 1 hour before slicing them into 9 squares.
These store well for up to 1 week according to my family. I have never tried this and already am out of bars! They did not last long at all!
More Holiday Desserts to Try
- Raspberry Chocolate Cream Puffs
- Pumpkin Streusel Bundt Cake
- Pumpkin Danish
- Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust
- Puff Pastry Mini Apple Pies
Chewy Hermit Bars
- stand mixer
- 9 x 9 casserole dish
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground clove if you use extract use 4 drops only
- 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 stick butter unsalted
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
- 3/4 cup raisins
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees f.
- Line a 9 x 9 Pyrex with parchment paper with at least a 2" overhang for easy removal.
- Spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray.
- In a stand mixer add softened butter, and brown sugar and beat until fluffy.
- Add in the egg, and molasses.
- Once they are combined, add in the flour, spices, and baking soda.
- Mix until combined at medium speed. The dough will be very sticky.
- Once combined, fold in the raisins by hand.
- Spray a rubber spatula with nonstick spray before spreading dough into the parchment-lined Pyrex.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bars comes out clean. Keep in mind these are moist and chewy so will have a slightly wet appearance despite being fully-baked.
Cynthia Bliss says
Mm Mm good. These are rich and sweet and just wonderful. I added an extra tablespoon of molasses ( total of 5) -I measured molasses by the tablespoon because it’s easier than using a cup- and gave it the extra tablespoon for what stuck to the the spoon during measuring. Also I used white sugar and made it into brown sugar by adding a tablespoon to it. I doubled the cinnamon and left out the clove, ginger and salt.
These are better than making individual molasses cookies because of the raisins and a lot simpler and quicker too!
I will double the recipe next time and use a 9 x 13 pan.
Vicky F says
Made this batch twice now.omg my favorite cookie bar! !I never knew it was a Mass.thing but yes I am too. I did add an eighth cup water the second try and it seems like a good fix.Entirely awesome,thank you!!
Amy Desrosiers says
Sounds awesome! Hope you enjoy!
I was so happy to find this recipe. I was born and raised in Massachusetts and loved them as a child! Thank you for this recipe. I’ll be making them for Christmas!
Annemarie LeBlanc says
Never heard of hermit bars before but these look really delicious! I love the taste of molasses, and the cinnamon would bring out the flavor even more. I will save the recipe and make this soon.
Ruth I says
I will be trying this recipe soon! I do not like raisings though, so I won’t put some on one side. ha! Yum!
I love how chewy these bars are! They are on my weekend baking list!
Fatima Torres says
I’m excited to give these hermit bars a try with my husband’s nieces. They love chewy desserts. Great idea for the holidays.
I haven’t heard of hermit bars before. They look yummy. The gingerbread-like flavor would make these perfect for Christmas.
Those look amazing. I’ve never had a hermit bar before. I’ve actually never heard of them. But now I can’t wait to make them. That center looks so chewy and moist. Yum!
Tara Pittman says
I have never had a hermit bar. They sound delicious and I need to make them.