m. c. de marco: To invent new life and new civilizations...
The New Kitchen Cookbook
Hermits were the first cookie, and are still a traditional New England cookie. Mom got some in a nut-free, bar form somewhere and liked them, so I read all about their history and then found a modern recipe at Epicurious to adapt.
The first time I made them, I forgot the currants until the last minute and had to sprinkle them on top and pack them down, which worked out better than I expected.
Gooeyness varies somewhat unpredictably with baking time, thus the wide range of cooking time. Mom apparently prefers them less gooey.
Makes 9x13 inches of bar cookies.
- 1 ¾ c. flour
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. Vietnamese cinnamon
- ½ tsp. nutmeg
- ¼ tsp. clove
- ¼ tsp. ginger
- 1 stick (½ c.) butter
- 2/3 c. brown sugar, packed
- 1 egg
- ¼ c. molasses
- 1 c. currants, dusted with flour if necessary to separate them
- sanding sugar (optional)
- Butter and flour a 9x13 baking pan.
- Mix the dry ingredients.
- Preheat oven to 350° (with convection).
- Separately, cream the butter with the sugar, then beat in the egg and molasses.
- Mix the dry ingredients into the creamed ingredients. Do not overmix.
- Mix in the currants. Do not forget the currants.
- Pack the resulting mass into the baking pan. (Plastic wrap is helpful here, and/or a little roller.)
- Optionally, top with sanding sugar.
- Bake 20–30 minutes or until it tests clean.
- Cool completely in pan on a rack.
- Cut into bars.
It is possible to make these as drop cookies, though I haven’t tried it.
Replace about ¼ c. of the currants with chopped candied fruit, for even more of that scary-old-dessert-food flavor.
It is possible to substitute baking powder for half or all of the baking soda, and I have tried it with no obvious ill effects.