Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Hermits: Two Ways

Chances are if you live outside of the northeast corner of the United States, you may never have experienced the singular delight that is the hermit.  What's that you say?  A hermit?  You mean dudes who live in the woods alone? Oh no, all two of you dear readers.  Not only do I suspect those dudes may not be delightful, but I also frown on cannibalism.  I'm talking about the second definition of hermit in the Merriam Webster Dictionary, and the first definition of favorite cookie in my heart:

Merriam Webster

I double dog dare you to use beadsman in a sentence.  I mean, what's not to love about a spiced molasses cookie (unless you like neither spice nor molasses, in which case: look away, you're not about to like what's about to happen below).  

I digress though, which is a shame because I could talk for days about how much I've loved hermits since childhood (New England grocery stores do a pretty good one, for the record) and how I decided that I needed to learn how to make my own, motivated in part by being trapped inside during the Big Snow from basically January to March of 2015.  There was much research that happened; I consulted the Internet via the Googles and Pinterest, my cookbook cache (Joy of Cooking, New Best Recipe) and cobbled together something that I determined on my first try would be my only try going forward...until just this weekend when I got it into my head that adding candied ginger in lieu of raisins would be either a terrible idea or a highly delicious idea.  

Spoiler alert: it's a highly delicious idea.  Because it is the time of year when we survive on a diet comprised primarily of sugar, tidings and yule, washed down with nog, and also giving, I give to you, all two readers, the best ever hermit recipe (but yeah...I'm a librarian who teaches your kids to think good, so consider the source bias, duh), times two! 

Hermits (Regular or Ginger)
Makes a bit under 2 dozen depending on size preferred
Hermits (with raisins)

¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 stick butter at room temperature
1 egg
1 cup raisins OR 1 cup chopped crystalized ginger (raisin size)
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
2 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2.5 cups all purpose flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, and spices in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, and add egg, mixing until combined.  Add molasses and stir thoroughly before adding raisins or ginger.  
  4. Mix in the flours; you may need to knead to combine.
  5. Cover and refrigerate at least 30-45 minutes to firm.
  6. Spilt dough into two equal sized balls and form logs, roughly a foot long.
  7. Bake for 15-18 minutes so they stay chewy and don’t dry out.  Cool on a rack and slice.*
  8. Enjoy!

Ginger Hermits
- I haven't combined the powers of ginger chunks and raisins yet, but may do so in the future, nor have I explored using dates, which I a) love, and b) have been used historically, SO...not sure where you can go wrong in something so right.
- My slices are about an inch and a half thick, though you can make these any which way you want if you split the dough into more than two logs; usually they are sold in narrower but wider square shapes. Mine resemble biscotti.
- I have contemplated doing an egg wash to make the top a bit more sparkle shiny, but it's not totally necessary. A bar is a bar is a bar, right?

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