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Family Recipe: Hermit Bars - Treasure Chest of Memories

Headline graphic with spices and "Family Recipe" Hermit Bars

My husband’s favorite Christmas treat was Hermit Bars that his mother made every year. We liken this New England treat to a gingerbread-ish bar with what my mother-in-law describes as a “milk glaze”.  (I like a lemon glaze better. It pairs perfectly with the strong spices. Even my hubby, who doesn’t usually like citrus in things, thinks so. )

I know she had a recipe, because my mother once got the recipe from her, so my husband could have hermit bars in South Carolina too.  My mother-in-law has downsized and no one can find a recipe that reads “Hermit Bars.”

Hedgecock Family Recipe: Hermit Bars

Luckily, the Internet provided some hints. The basis of the recipe I’ve been using is based on’s Hermit Bar recipe. I usually double for two 9x 13 pans. You can also use jelly roll pans.

Hermit Bar ingredients (USA)

  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons shortening
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4+ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup raisins


  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • milk added as needed to reach desired consistency

I basically follow steps 1-5 from King Arthur Baking’s recipe, omitting the water, reducing the flour, and adding the ginger. (I may try adding the water and flour back this year. It worked well last year, but had a much longer back time –15+ minutes if I remember correctly.)

I whisk together the glaze ingredients and dribble (that’s a technical term) the glaze generously on the un-cut bars.

King Arthur Baking claims they last well.  We’ve never had to test this part. They don’t “last” in my house.

Your Turn

This post is part of a GenFriends Project.  Listen to the episode and let us know if your family has any holiday traditions.


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