Hermit Bars

Hermit CookiesStaying true to its name, The back page of each month’s Cook’s Illustrated displays drawings of a specific variety of culinary ingredient such as Gulf Coast fish (March/April 2014) , types of pears (Sept/Oct 2014) or an array of classic tapas (July/Aug 2015). This month’s illustration is “classic American cookies.” I scan the line-up and check off the usual suspects– chocolate chip – yep, peanut butter – made them, oatmeal raisin – of course, snickerdoodles – baked my first batch at 12.   They took liberty with some – is chocolate sandwich truly an American classic (outside of the store bought Oreo variety). Then one lumpy, Cliff-bar looking cookie catches my eye – hermit. Whaaaa??? What the hell is that? I’ve never heard of a hermit cookie. Where could this hermit have been hiding all these years? A bit of cookie wiki and I soon learn they came from the New England area and, although ingredients differ, seem to be a chewy, heavily spiced cookie- bar (usually) or drop – with any combination of raisins, currants, dates and walnuts.

What have I been missing? Well, a lot. We’ll see these again around Christmas time. Oh yum.

Hermit Cookies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 cup Butter, melted
1 cup Granulated sugar
1 Egg (large)
½ t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
½ t. Ginger
½ t. Cloves (scant)
½ t. Salt
1 t. Baking soda
3 cups All Purpose Flour
½ c. Molasses
1 cup Raisins, softened in hot water
1 cup Walnuts, toasted and chopped
3 T. Demerara sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13×9” pan.

In a large bowl, beat together sugar and butter until smooth. Beat in egg, spices, salt and baking soda. Gently stir in flour then add the molasses and beat until fully incorporated. Stir in the raisins and nuts.

Pat dough evenly into pan and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes until just set. Do not over-bake. You want the final bars to be chewy. Cool completely before cutting.