Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Blue and White Box

The town next to the one in which I grew up had a bakery that produced superlative cookies and breads. Their blue and white box on the counter always meant a special treat, especially if it contained Hermits.

Years after I had left the town of my childhood, these Hermits lived large in my memory. With the bakery long out of business it was impossible to sample these particular Hermits again. All others paled in comparison. Most failed and wound up in the trash bin. All recipes were found lacking. And resignation took hold. The disappointment was palpable.

One day while sitting in a waiting room flipping through some magazines a recipe captured my eye. Hmmmmm, now that looked intriguing. For the first time in years I felt hope that I might actually once again bite into the Hermit of my childhood. I copied the recipe out and made it within a day or two. It did not disappoint.

Although there is no blue and white box to signal a particular treat, these cookies have become a family favorite. And, disappear almost as quickly as those from the blue and white box.

A historical note: Hermits are a very old cookie and are said to have originated on Cape Cod. An excellent keeper these cookies often went to sea stored in tins and packed into sea trunks.

Note: Rotating cookie sheets--for me this means moving the cookie sheets--the sheet on the top rack is moved to the bottom rack and the sheet on the bottom rack is moved to the top rack. The sheets are also turned 160 degrees in this process (a half turn--front to back or back to front). This allows for more even baking.


2 c. flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. ginger

¼ tsp. nutmeg

¼ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. cloves

1 c. brown sugar

½ c. unsalted butter, softened

1/3 c. molasses

1 egg

1 c. raisins

1 c. pecans coarsely chopped and toasted

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two cookie sheets.

Measure dry ingredients into a bowl and stir to combine.

In another bowl beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses until well combined. Beat in egg. On low add flour and mix just until combined. Stir in raisins and pecans.

Divide dough into quarters.

With lightly floured hands, shape each quarter into a 12” x 1-1/2” log. On each sheet place 2 logs leaving 3 inches in between.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until logs flatten and edges are firm. Rotate sheets halfway between baking time. Cool 15 minutes on baking sheets. Place logs one at a time on cutting board and cut into cookies. Transfer slices to wire racks to cool completely.

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