Grandma Gertie would make these bars at least one month in advance, tightly wrapped in an air-tight container, as they improve with age. The scrumptious honey flavored bars are dense and chewy, filled with almonds, candied fruits, and spices. A simple icing of confectioners’ sugar and milk is spread over the bars when they are hot from the oven, creating a very thin crackly glaze.
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- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 cups unblanched almonds, finely chopped
- ¼ cup candied citron, finely chopped
- ¼ cup candied orange peel, finely chopped
- 2 cups honey (preferably clover honey)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup bourbon or whiskey
- 3 large eggs
- 1¼ cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
- 2 to 2 ½ tablespoons milk (preferably whole milk)
- In a very large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Add the chopped almonds, candied citron, and candied orange peel; stir to thoroughly combine. Set aside. Tip: make sure and use a very large bowl as this is a large recipe.
- In top of a double boiler over hot water, combine the honey and sugar. Heat and stir with a rubber spatula until the sugar is dissolved. Tip: test if the sugar is dissolved by rubbing a bit between your fingers; there should be no grittiness left from the sugar granules. Tip: Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with 2 inches of water and bringing it to a simmer. Place a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass bowl on top of the hot water, the upper pan should not touch the water.
- When sugar is dissolved, remove pan from heat and set aside to cool to just slightly warm. Stir in the whiskey.
- Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the eggs, whisking about 1 minute. Add the eggs to the honey mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.
- Pour the honey and egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined.
- Bake: Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the back of a large spoon or rubber spatula or offset spatula. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not overbake. Remove from oven and place on a wire cooling rack and spread icing over hot cookie.
- In a small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar and milk; stir until smooth. Immediately spread the icing evenly over the hot baked cookie using a small offset spatula.
- Leave pan on wire cooling rack to cool completely, from 2 to 4 hours, before cutting. When cool, use the parchment overhang to lift cookie from the pan, and cut into 1½ to 2 inch squares. Tip: My favorite tool to cut bars is a stainless steel dough scraper; simply push the dough scraper straight down into the cookie for straight cuts. Or use a pizza cutter or small kitchen knife to cut the cookie into squares.
- The bars can be eaten immediately; however they are best when allowed to age at least 1 to 4 weeks or longer. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil, and then place in a sealed plastic freezer bag.