M. Andrew Gordon

Hermit Cookies Remade

In Baked Goods on October 12, 2009 at 7:31 pm

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Hermits, that dense molasses baked good studded with raisins, has long been one of my favorites.  In fact, some of my earliest memories of food are being with my grandmother in her narrow kitchen and making Hermit Cookies with her.  After being spoiled with a really high quality version made by grandmother, every version I have had since has paled in comparison.  And in some ways I was worried that even with her recipe in hand, I wouldn’t quite make the treasured, rich molasses bars that I remember as a child.

I began to think that the basic idea of the Hermit – rich, sugary molasses flavor and chewy pieces of fruit – might well translate into a muffin.  But the batter that is used to make Hermits would not yield a muffin, so tinkering would be necessary.  Since the recipe for the Hermits is an old recipe from my grandmother, I figured I would follow that line of thinking and look through some of her old recipes.

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I quickly found a simple Pumpkin Muffin recipe that looked promising; the flour and sugar ratios were similar to the Hermits and the chief differences were the amount of butter (less in the muffins) and the liquid ingredients, where the Hermits have no milk added to the batter.  The only liquid in the Hermits come from eggs, melted butter, and molasses.  No wonder they’re so dense!  I also decided that I would use dried cranberries in place of the raisins because I like them better and, for some reason, people expect cranberries when I cook.

While I was at it, I decided to make the Pumpkin Muffins as well, but I dressed those up a little bit by adding chopped cranberries since I have several bags of cranberries kicking around.  I rinsed about one and a half cups of cranberries and threw them in the food processor, added about a tablespoon of turbinado sugar, and chopped them.  I figured the sugar would help cut the tartness of the berries.  I added a heaping cup of the chopped berries to the Pumpkin Muffin batter after everything else was already mixed.

Hermit Muffins

(makes 12 small muffins or six larger muffins)

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400° F.  Mix dry ingredients in large bowl.  In separate bowl, combine liquid ingredients and mix well.
  2. Add liquids to the dry ingredients, stir together.  The batter will be lumpy.  Mix in cranberries and let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Grease/butter muffin tins and fill each 2/3 full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes and remove immediately from pans.

Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins

(makes 12 small muffins or six larger muffins)

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup pureed pumpkin or squash
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup melted butter

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400° F.  Mix dry ingredients in large bowl.  In separate bowl, combine liquid ingredients and mix well.
  2. Add liquids to the dry ingredients, stir together.  The batter will be lumpy.  Let batter rest for about 5 minutes.
  3. Grease/butter muffin tins and fill each 2/3 full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes and remove immediately from pans.
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  1. Wow, I’d never heard of Hermit Cookies (we must not have those in Texas). But now I really want to try making these muffins! They sound delicious!

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