gingerbread bars

If you’re tired of broken gingerbread limbs and burnt gingerbread bottoms but love those sweet and spicy little cookies like I do, I have the perfect cookie for you.
These gingerbread bars are a healthier version of the hermit, a cookie my mom used to bake for us every Christmas. I found myself craving them last weekend and tracked down a few different recipes online. I ended up modifying Martha’s recipe because, to be honest, she made the best looking hermit out there. Superficial? Maybe… but if you search for images of hermit cookies you’ll see they’re not a particularly attractive cookie. Martha’s hermits  are like gingerbread men disguised as biscotti.
To healthify the recipe, I substituted with some whole wheat flour and plain yogurt to make these cookies a touch more wholesome without sacrificing the chewy texture and gingerbready goodness. The best part about this recipe is that you don’t have to get your hands messy forming sheets and sheets of individual cookies. Just plop two logs of dough on the cookie sheet, bake, cool and slice!
You’ll want to make sure you have an airtight cookie jar, plastic bag or container because, unlike those prettier, Christmas sugar cookies, these babies only get better with time.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Hermit Bars
Makes ~24-36 bars depending on size
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
  • 3 tablespoons plain or vanilla low-fat  yogurt (try not to use non-fat)
  • 1 cup loosely packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 3/4 cup raisins

Lightly grease a large cookie sheet and set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat until well combined. Add the molasses and beat until combined again. Add the flour mixture and raisins, stirring until dough just comes together and flour is fully incorporated. Be mindful not to over-mix when adding the flour as this will make for a tougher cookie. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 375F about 10 minutes before removing dough from refrigerator. Once chilled, divide dough into 2 equal pieces, and shape each piece into a 12-inch log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on prepared baking sheet with at least 3 inches between them. Bake until logs are golden but still very soft to the touch, about 20 minutes. The logs will flatten out and lengthen as they bake and get slightly puffy in the center. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice into 1-inch-wide bars and store in an airtight container at room temperature – they get better with age and should last about 1 week.

Elf for Health Challenge Update: One of this week’s Elf for Health daily challenges was to bake a healthier holiday cookie. These were mine but check out some of the other awesome recipes our elves baked:

Question of the day: What’s your favorite holiday cookie? This is mine but I have yet to find a way to make them healthier. Some things should just be left alone I guess!

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