Friday, December 09, 2011

Sugar, Oh Honey, Honey

Every winter, Consort and Daughter make cookies together. And then Consort and I eat them. So in solemn commemoration of when I could fit into my skinny pants, I offer you all the best recipe for Hermits I've ever found. Say after me; It has nuts and raisins in it, so that's healthy, right?


2 cups flour (plus a little extra, if necessary)

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar

1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature

3 tablespoons molasses

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

1/2 cup dark raisins or currants

2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped

Crystallized ginger (optional)

For the egg glaze: 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water


1.Get out one or two large, heavy cookie sheets -- preferably shiny ones. (Just one sheet will be in the oven at a time, but having two sheets will streamline the baking.) Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit each sheet, then cut those pieces in half, length-wise. You should end up with four rectangular pieces of parchment. Heat the oven to 375°.

2.Sift 2 cups of flour, all of the spices, the baking powder, the baking soda, and the salt into a medium-size mixing bowl. Set it aside.

3.In a separate large bowl, use an electric mixer for a few seconds to soften the butter. Add the brown sugar to the butter roughly in thirds, beating at medium-high speed for 1 minute after each addition. Add the egg and yolk, and beat for another minute. Add the molasses and the vanilla, and beat for 1 more minute, until the batter is smooth.

4.Using a wooden spoon, stir 1 cup of the dry mixture into the creamed ingredients. Stir in the walnuts, the raisins (or currants), and the crystallized ginger, if you're using it. Add the remaining cup of the dry mixture a half cup at a time and stir after each addition. The dough should end up fairly dense and hard to stir. If it seems a little soft, mix in another 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and divide it into 4 equal pieces.

5. Working with well-floured hands, roll the first ball into a log about 12 inches long. Roll the log onto one of the pieces of parchment.

6.Place the log (with the paper) lengthwise onto the cookie sheet, leaving room for a second one beside it. Slightly flatten the log into a rough rectangle so the dough is about 3/4 inches thick and 1 1/4 inches wide.

7. Repeat the rolling steps for a second piece of dough, then use a piece of parchment to place the log on the other half of the cookie sheet (a) before flattening it (b). Using a pastry brush, paint both bars with the egg glaze. This will give the cookies a nice, shiny finish.

8. Bake the bars on the center oven rack for 11 to 12 minutes. While they are baking, prepare the rest of the dough and place it on the second sheet, if you're using one. (If you're using just one cookie sheet, be sure to let it cool thoroughly before you place any dough on it. Put it outside in cold weather or in the refrigerator to speed up the process.) When the bars are done, they will have flattened out somewhat. They might seem a little squishy and underdone, but that's okay: they'll continue to cook a little longer and will get firmer as they cool.

9.Place the baking sheet on a cooling rack. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then lift the parchment pieces with the bars and place them onto a large cutting board.

10. While the bars are still warm, cut them into 1 1/2-inch-wide sections with a pizza cutter or a sharp serrated knife. Cool the hermits thoroughly, then store them in an airtight container. Makes about 32 hermits.


Anonymous Lisa J said...

These sound wonderful. Darn--another delicious cookie/pie/pastry I must bake! Will try these as soon as I survive the polish jam-filled cookies later this week.

Love your blog. Just finished your book and must report that my husband was frequently awakened by my inadequately muffled snorts and guffaws the whole week (even moreso than the last time I read Dave Barry or Carl Hiaasen).

I am a frequent lurker since I met you and your daughter at UNR a few years ago, but this is my first time posting. I am waiting for your next book (yes, I get that the next one is serious and likely won't disrupt hubby's sleep) and am wondering if you are a reader of Brain Child Magazine (actually, I believe it is "Brain, Child")...

But I digress...

12:10 AM  
Blogger StevenIre said...

Cookies!? “Those are birds of a very different feather,” as the Veggie Monster, once the Cookie Monster would say of his past obsession in comparison with the present and which I say to contrast this present post to the past post. You have moved from an object lesson on the consequences of incorrectly followed procedure to a veritable flow chart. It’s as if you were saying—okay, choke on improperly made cookies from a perfectly tendered recipe all because you didn’t follow the recipe; now who’s laughing on the other side of their face. I didn’t mean to laugh at the previous post. Please don’t expect me to make cookies

3:31 PM  
Blogger Twisted Susan said...

I ain't never heard of no hermits.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Lydia said...

Thanks for the recipe! I have lovely memories of my mother and I making hermits! It's time now to make them with my kids!

10:26 AM  

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