Did you know that “Hermits” or Hermit bars/cookies are a thing? I didn’t.
Apparently these are a traditional cookie/bar that started a long time ago in New England. They are known to wear well with age (if you count three days as age.) Sailors would take these bars along with them when they went out on the clipper ships.
I found a recipe the other day for “Grandma’s Hermits.” At first glance the recipe looked good with molasses, raisins and nuts, but upon closer inspection I saw that the recipe called for 1 1/4 cup of butter and a cup of sugar. Crikey (I know I’m channeling Shaggy from Scooby Doo but I don’t know any New Englandese for an exclamation of surprise or amazement.) Then I saw that the recipe called for an egg wash, and it was over for me.
Yes, I know lots of breads and stuff have an egg wash, but not the ones I make. I guess I could have done the chock full of butter and sugar recipe and then used the egg wash which would have guaranteed that I not eat them. Perhaps I overlooked the real genius of this recipe as a sugar deterrent.
Someone’s grandmother is a crafty one.
But part of the reason I bake (besides keeping the boyfriend happy) is so that I can have low or no sugar treats myself.
Back to the internet to find a low butter/no sugar recipe and I find something close.
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped nuts
2 cups flour
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar ( I use a natural sugar substitue like Stevia)
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cream of tartar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon mace ( who has mace anyway. I use pumpkin pie spice instead)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1. Preheat oven 350 degrees
2. Grease 9 by 13 pan (which I don’t have. I just use another size pan.)
3. Dust raisins and nuts in 1/4 cup flour. I didn’t know if that meant take a 1/4 cup from the two cups of flour or an additional 1/4 cup flour. I used an additional 1/4. Next time I would take the 1/4 of flour out of the two cups.
4.I combined all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and mixed it together. The original recipe doesn’t call for that, but I’ll do almost anything to avoid a bite of baking soda, so I always make sure it’s well incorporated. Then I shifted the mixed dry ingredients-again not called for, but I’m a vigilant baker.
5. Cream butter and sugar. I recently read that the best thing to do to soften butter is to leave it out for 30 to 45 minutes which is what I always do. If I put it in the microwave, it melts too much. I also take the eggs out about 15 minutes before I start, so that they will come to room temp.
6. Here the original recipe says to add salt, eggs and molasses. This felt wrong to me-salt with the eggs and molasses? I had already put the salt in with the dries, so I only added the eggs and molasses.
7. Sift flour and rest of dry ingredients into creamed mixture and mix well. I already sifted so I put it directly into creamed mixture.
8. Add nuts and raisins and stir.
9. Spread batter into pan.
10. Bake 15-20 minutes (and of course in our bizarro oven it was more like 25 minutes.)
11 Cut into squares
When I was 12 I had a slumber party in our summer house. It was called a “summer house” but it was just a bare bones room a few feet away from our house. All of my guests decided it would be cool to go down to the Mormon Church down the street and get stoned. I didn’t want to get into trouble or get stoned for that matter and didn’t go. While they were gone, I worked on the perfect note that I thought would ensure that they would feel like jerks. My favorite line in it was “with friends like you, maybe I’ll become a hermit.”
My friends returned and we resumed the party. My note did not make my friends feel guilty, but instead provided great fodder for jokes that night and for many months to come.
Now I know it is far better to bake Hermits than to threaten to be one.
They’re delicious especially with a beverage!