Betty Crocker says that Hermits were a favorite cookie back in 1900, and after making these I've decided that it was not without reason. They're soft, spicy, chewy, and loaded with candied ginger and raisin puree. Browned butter makes them soft and cakey, just right for a hearty, satisfying snack. These Hermits are a new twist on an old favorite, and they'd be at home either clutched in a little fist and enjoyed with a cold glass of milk or served on an elegant party tray with a steaming cup of spiced apple cider.
If you haven't started your holiday baking, you should definitely put this recipe on your list. It's from the Holiday Cookies from America's Test Kitchens Holiday 2010 issue. (Yep, it's the one from my giveaway.) You didn't think I could resist buying one for myself too, did you?
Hermit Cookies- Printable recipe here
slightly adapted from Holiday Cookies from America's Test Kitchens (Holiday 2010)
Makes about 2 dozen large cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra if needed for forming rolls of dough)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
2 Tablespoons crystallized ginger, chopped fine
1 stick unsalted butter (8 Tablespoons)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 large eggs
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons orange juice
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
- Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
- Process raisins and ginger together in food processor or blender. My raisins were very dry and wouldn't process, so I splashed in about a Tablespoon of coffee to soften them. Orange juice or water would work well too, if you have the same problem.
- Heat butter in saucepan over medium low heat, swirling occasionally, until nutty brown in color. (about 10 minutes- Watch it carefully. Once it starts to brown, it browns quickly.) Add spices to the butter, and cook until fragrant. (about 15 seconds)
- Add the butter mixture to the raisin mixture. Mix together and then cool completely.
- Add brown sugar, molasses, and eggs to the raisin/butter mixture. Stir until completely incorporated.
- Fold in flour mixture and refrigerate, covered, until firm. (at least 1 1/2 hours- I did mine overnight.)
- When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Divide dough into four equal parts. Roll each part into a 10 inch log on a floured surface, then place on prepared baking sheet. My dough was very sticky, so I used flour liberally to make my four rolls. (I'm sure this was because I added extra liquid to soften my raisins.) Put two logs on each cookie sheet, leaving about 3 inches between the rolls. (They will spread.)
- Bake until edges are set but center is still soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer parchment to wire rack to cool completely.
- Repeat for second two cookie rolls.
- Make glaze. Whisk together orange juice and confectioners sugar. Drizzle mixture over cooled logs. Let set until glaze hardens. Cut logs into bars. The original recipe called for making them 2 inches wide, but I made mine a bit smaller.
- Variation: Use a maple glaze in place of the orange. Mix together 3/4 cup of confectioners sugar, 1 1/2 Tablespoons of milk or water and a bit of maple flavoring to taste.