LIVING

PICNIC SEASON: For picnic season, dessert has to be portable, so try a recipe for gorp hermits

05/18/2015 12:51 EDT | Updated 05/18/2016 05:59 EDT
When it comes to packing a picnic, the savory items are easy. Sandwiches and wraps. Potato and pasta salads. Chips and dips.

It's all very transportable and all very easy to eat while perched on a blanket in the grass. But dessert can prove less obvious. Sure, you could do cookies. But what else? The usual cakes and cupcakes and ice creams and whipped this-and-thats just won't hold up to being hauled into the park on a warm day.

Which is why bars are where it's at. Think brownies and blondies and all manner of rich, dense, chewy treats. To help you on your way, we created these gorp hermits, a sort of granola-inspired bar that is dense, delicious and sweet without being too over the top. And, most importantly, they transport very well.

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GORP HERMITS

Start to finish: 1 hour

Servings: 24

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup dried cranberries

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

2 cups (15 ounces) packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon dried ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Zest of 1 orange

3 eggs

1/2 cup molasses

2 1/4 cups (9 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup thick-cut oats

1/2 cup chopped peanuts

1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds

1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

Coarse sugar

Heat the oven to 350 F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray, then line the bottom of the pan with kitchen parchment.

In a small saucepan over medium-high, bring 1 inch of water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add the raisins and cranberries. Cover and set aside.

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg and orange zest. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing. Stir in the molasses, flour and baking powder, then mix until completely incorporated.

Stir in the oats, peanuts, almonds, crystallized ginger and chocolate, if using. Drain the dried fruit, discarding any excess liquid that doesn't get absorbed, and stir into the batter. You should have a very soft, spreadable and sticky batter. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan, sprinkle with coarse sugar, then bake for 40 minutes.

Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then overturn onto a cutting board. Remove the kitchen parchment and cut into bars.

Nutrition information per serving: 240 calories; 80 calories from fat (33 per cent of total calories); 9 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 40 mg cholesterol; 115 mg sodium; 39 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 26 g sugar; 4 g protein.

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