Saturday, February 28, 2015

Old Fashioned Hermits

I made Hermits over the summer last year.  They were delicious.  I saw these old fashioned Hermits made without molasses. I decided to give them a try.  Mind you this recipe is suppose to have nuts and raisins in it but I knew if I included these, the kids would not have eaten them. They were good but I think I like the molasses ones a little better.  If you are not big on molasses though then these are the cookie for you.  This is an old fashioned recipe from Betty Crocker.

"So what is a Hermit? Hermits originally were a plain cookie with spices and raisins or currants added. They started out with brown sugar in the Champlain Valley of New York which is across Lake Champlain from New England’s Vermont. In New England Hermits started out with white sugar which continued up until the 1930’s. A decade or two later white sugar and molasses came into use by New Englanders which has become the modern day standard. No matter what the sugar type a combination of spices and dried fruit either raisin or currants was the early standard. By the mid-1900s nuts were being added to Hermits and a variety of dried fruits like dates, figs, apricots and citrons. This last development took ingredients associated with Boston Cookies and integrated into the Hermits. Homemade versions call for dropped or rolled & cut cookies. The commercial bakery version is different it was and still is baked in long wide lengths and cut into squares. This shape is what most people associate with Hermits. Cookies in general keep a long time like the Centennial Cookies, as they dry out over time. However, for the best taste cookies are best eaten fresh.

It is likely Hermits developed in the Lake Champlain region. Whether it first occurred in Vermont or New York may never be known.  New England cook books show Hermits recipes no matter what the name they were published under early on were well liked and spread throughout the region." (New England Recipes).

Old Fashioned Hermits
1 cup shortening
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
3½ cups flour
½ cup cold coffee
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Cream sugar and shortening.  Add in eggs, then coffee. Mix dry ingredients separately.  Add in to wet ingredients until just combined.  Chill for two hours. Bake at 400F for 8 to 10 minutes.
Original Hermits
Recipe from Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book (1880), page 330
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 cup raisins, chopped
3 eggs
½ teaspoon baking soda dissolved in
3 tablespoons milk
1 nutmeg, grated [or 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg]
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 cups flour

Mix and roll out ¼” thick, cut with a round cake cutter.
Bake in a quick oven [350 degrees] for 12 minutes

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