Hermits

It’s officially Autumn, and you know what that means—every food blog around will start posting apple and pumpkin recipes galore.  I’m sure I’ll get to my share of those as well; but, before I do, I thought I’d share some hermits with you.

I honestly had no idea that hermits were a regional dessert until my husband’s job brought me kicking and screaming from Boston to Chicago.  It was a surprise to me to find out that absolutely no one in the Midwest had ever had one of these colonial treats or had even heard of them.  Meanwhile, hermits are as familiar to New Englanders as chocolate chip cookies.

So, let’s bring you up to speed on hermits.  First off, from what I can gather, the name was given to them because, like a hermit, you can hide them for a period of time—and, when they reappear, they are still moist and chewy.  Now, as for how they taste, you will notice there are familiar fall spices in the list of ingredients.  If you were to imagine a gingerbread brownie and a gingerbread cookie getting together, this would be their love child—not as thick as the former and not as thin as the latter, but a delightful child that can stand on its own merits.

This particular recipe calls for baking in a 10” x 15” jelly roll pan (or cookie sheet with raised sides), and then the hermits are cut as bars.  This is a variation from the more traditional hermits which are baked in long bars similar to biscotti and then cut so that there are two cut sides and two finished edges (other than the end pieces, of course).

Any way you cut them, they’re moist, chewy, spicy and delicious messengers of Fall—do try them.

One year ago:  The Best French Onion Soup

Two years ago:  Sweet Potato Bisque, Peanut Butter Brownies

Hermits

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup (8 tbl./1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 cup raisins, either dark or golden

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, shortening and margarine till smooth.  Beat in the spices, salt and baking soda.

Slowly stir in the flour, then add the molasses and beat well again.  Stir in the raisins last.

Pat hermits into a lightly greased 10″ x 15″ jelly roll pan; the mixture will be thick and fairly dry.  Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until a toothpick comes up with a tender crumb clinging.  Don’t over-bake; bars should barely be pulling away from the edge of the pan.  Mine were done in exactly 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.

Fran’s Notes

  • There is debate as to whether nuts should be added to hermits.  Most traditional recipes do not call for nuts.  But, hey—it’s a free country.  I didn’t add any to mine, but I love nuts and think some walnuts would be a great addition.
  • Also, in case you think I forgot to list eggs in the ingredients–there are none called for.

Source:  A King Arthur’s Flour recipe

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