Christmas Cookies: Rhema’s raisin bars

Christmas Cookies: Raisin Bars

Put on your aprons, because we’re going to be cooking up some traditional cookie recipes this month.


I found the hand-written recipe headed “Raisin Bars” in my mother’s recipe box, and it looks like her handwriting, so I assumed it was her recipe for Christmas cookies. It had some tell-tale spots on it, so I knew it had actually been used–always a good sign.  But when I looked more closely, I saw that the card was printed with “From the recipe file of Rhema.” So here’s a cookie recipe from Aunt Rhema Anderson Fair.

Christmas Cookies: Raisin Bars

Aunt Rhema Fair’s Raisin Bar Recipe

As I made the Christmas cookies, I could see Aunt Rhema in a frilly pinafore apron, standing in her high heeled shoes in the kitchen, with her hair perfectly in place, as she efficiently mixed and stirred.  And although I had never made them before, I can testify that these spicy Christmas cookies are nothing short of addictive. Bet you can’t eat just one!

Fair Family 1954

Frank, Rhema, Earl and Dick Fair Christmas 1954

My mental picture of Aunt Rhema in the kitchen is very unlike me in my day-old sweatshirt and sweatpants and tennies, and who knows what my hair looked like! Thank goodness, in my case, the cook’s picture doesn’t go along with the baked goods. But I surely wish I had a picture of Aunt Rhema in her apron!

Rhema’s Raisin Bars

Serves 40-50
Cook time 30 minutes
Allergy Milk
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable


  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 stick butter ((1/4 pound))
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or mace
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk or fruit juice


1. Put raisins and water in pan and bring to a boil. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add 1 stick [1/4 pound] butter until melted. [Note: I put raisins and water in microwave in a glass cup for one minute on high, then added butter, sliced into pieces and cooked one more minute.]
2. When butter is melted, let mixture cool. and then add 1 tsp [baking] soda.
3. Sift together dry ingredients [ except powedered sugar.]
4. Pour cooled raisin mixture over flour mixture and add 1 tsp. vanilla and stir well.
5. Pour into large flat pan (greased) 12 x 15. smooth out even and bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.
6. While cookies bake, mix together 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tablespooons fruit juice or milk, spread over hot cookies for glaze.


The instructions "smooth out even" was not as easy as it sounds. I was wondering if Aunt Rhema was mistaken about the size of pan and I should have used a 9 x 12. While you could use the smaller size pan for a thicker cookie, these cookies raise enough to make a respectable bar. However, it is challenging to get the dough spread over the pan. I wet the back of a large spoon I was using a few times as I was spreading and that worked well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge