I think Ted came home from work with the suggestion for this recipe from a co-worker. In original form it is called “Crustless Cranberry Pie”. A web search turned up a numerous variations on the recipe so we picked one that seemed reasonable. We’ve made it a dozen plus times and love the result. We usually call it ‘giant cranberry cookie’.
Tonight I had no cranberries. Blueberries seemed a fair substitute. The color is definitely eye catching before baking.
Giant Purple Cookie
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 cups frozen blueberries
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Arrange an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat to 350°F. Grease a 9″ glass pie pan and set it aside.
- Mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the blueberries and walnuts, stir gently to coat.
- Combine the melted butter, eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl. Use a fork to combine the ingredients and then pour into the dry ingredient bowl. Stir to combine. The batter will turn purple.
- Transfer the batter to the greased pie pan and distribute evenly. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating the dish 180° halfway through baking.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes on cooling rack before serving.
Hermits were a regular part of the snack rotation of my childhood. I suspect, like so many recipes from that time, it came from the back of a box or can of something. My guess is the corn syrup, or maybe the flour. In any event they are delicious and remind me of simpler times.
This recipe is based on one from The Way We Cook by Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven. I’ve tweaked the ingredient list a bit and written up the instructions in my own words. Enjoy.
Servings: 15-20 bars
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes (plus cooling time)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
- 2 tsp. ground allspice
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp. table salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 Tbsp. milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups currants
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 13″x9″ baking pan with vegetable spray. (see notes)
- Combine the dry ingredients (the first 6) in a large bowl and stir with a whisk to combine.
- Add the oil, molasses, corn syrup, water, milk and eggs in the bowl of stand mixer. Beat until well combined. Add the sugar and beat until mixed.
- Add the flour in 3 installments, mixing until just incorporated after each addition. Remove from the mixer, scrap the sides of the bowl with a spatula and stir in the raisins.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared 13″x9″ pan. Allow it to settle into the pan in a (fairly) even layer.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for 5 minutes.
- Cut the hermits while still warm. Store leftovers (ha) in a ziptop bag.
I made a sling of sorts in the pan with a piece of pre-cut parchment paper that is sized for a half sheet pan. I sprayed the bottom and sides of the pan then laid the parchment into the pan to form an U. The spray on the bottom helps the parchment to stay in place while you spread the batter. When the cake was ready for serving I ran a knife along the edges not covered with parchment and lifted the entire cake from the pan with no fuss.
The original recipe called for “dark” raisins, whatever those are. We prefer currants over raisins anyway so it was an easy substitution.
While reacquainting myself with the Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates cookbook I came across their recipe for spiced coconut date bars. I thought they would fit in with our holiday party buffet offerings so I set out to make the recipe. The results are pretty tasty.
Here’s my version of their recipe. I’ve adjusted the amounts and written the recipe up in my own words.
Coconut Date Bars
Servings: 25 pieces
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes (plus 30 minutes to cool after baking)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 12 oz. Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- 200g all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup “old-fashioned” rolled oats (not instant or 1 minute oats)
- zest and juice from one tangerine
- 1/2 cup unsweeted coconut flakes
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 8″ square baking pan with baking spray.
- Spread chopped pecans in a single layer on an unoiled sheet pan and transfer to the oven. Cook for 6 minutes, shaking pan every two minutes. When you can smell the nuts they are probably done. They should be lightly browned. Set aside for the moment.
- In a medium saucepan combine dates and 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook for 15 minutes. Stir occassionally until the dates are soft.
- Combine the flour, spices and baking powder in a large bowl. Whisk gently to combine.
- While the dates are simmering away you can make the crust & topping (it’s the same mixture). Add the butter and brown sugar to the bowl of stand mixer with a paddle attachement. Turn on to low to combine and then turn to medium for 5 minutes until butter has lightened in color. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture; beat until combined. Add the oats and pecans; beat until combined. The result will be a crumbly mixture with lots of lumps.
- Meanwhile, back to the dates. When they are done add the tangerine zest/juice and the coconut. Stir to combine and set aside.
- Dump about two-thirds of the crust into the baking pan and use the buttom of a measuring cup or glass to compact it into a firm layer. Spread the date mixture over the crust. Crumble the final third of the crust mixture over the top of the date mixture.
- Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees after 15 minutes. The top should pick up a golden hue and the edges may turn dark brown when the dish is done. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
- Use a knife to cut around the edge of the bars. Then cut the bars into 5 columns and finally 25 squares.
I found the easiest way to cut the bars was to transfer them to a cutting board. You’ll actually need 2 cutting boards to accomplish this. After cutting around the edges of the pan to loosen the bars place the first cutting board over the pan. Hold the pan and board together and flip the pan upside down. Gently lift the pan; the date bars should stay on the cutting board. Now place the second cutting board on top of the date bars and, again, flip the bars upside down. Remove the first cutting board and the date bars should be upside right with the crumb topping on top.
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.
Recipe under the cut