Spice Cookie Bars

When I need to make dessert my mind first goes to chocolate. Alas I married a man who is not as fond of chocolate as I. Life is full of small compromises and one of mine is I don’t just make chocolate cake for dessert.

I found the recipe for Spice Cookie Bars at our “local” Penzeys Spice. We make a short pilgrimage a couple of times a year to their Arlington (MA) location to restock the pantry. One of my favorite parts is that they have jars of all their spices & blends available for customers to open, sniff and get a sense of the differences between 3 types of ground chile. They also have recipe cards randomly placed around the store with their products.

The resulting bars had a spongy quality that remind me of hermits. From the way they disappeared from the plate I’m guessing that folks like them a lot.

Spice Cookie Bars
Servings: ~24 2″ square bars
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes


  • 1 cup Zante currants
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cups (236 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon (used Penzeys’ Vietnamese Extra Fancy Cinnamon)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • nutmeg – I grated some whole nutmeg, 30 swipes across a fine microplane. The recipe called for 1/2 tsp. of ground nutmeg.
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lay a sheet of parchment paper over a 13″x9″ pan so that the excess lays across the long sides. Give the short sides a quick blast of non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Place the raisins and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the pan reaches a boil remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
  3. While the raisins cool measure out the dry ingredients and gently whisk to combine.
  4. Pour the cooled raisins & remaining water into a large bowl (use the one from your stand mixer if you have one). Add the vegetable oil, sugar and egg. Mix well to combine.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the raisin mixture and stir to combine. Add the nuts and mix well.
  6. Pour the batter into the pan and use a spatula to spread the batter out evenly.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pan once half way through.
  8. Allow to cool, in the pan, on a rack for 5-10 minutes. Use the hanging parchement to lift the bars from the pan. Cool throughly before cutting.

Note – the recipe called for seedless raisins which we typically don’t have in the house. I suspected that any small dried fruit would work so I reached for the Zante currants. I actually reached for dried cherries first however they had gone missing.

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