My grandmother on my dad’s side was always known to all of us as “Bessie.” Her real name was Agnes, but I don’t think I knew that until her funeral. She had a feisty streak underneath a calm exterior; she was known to swing a cast-iron skillet at my dad if he teased her too much (he nearly always deserved it). Her kitchen had a red floor. Her hands smelled like Oil of Olay lotion. She made the only coleslaw I have ever liked. And her pantry always, always contained that blessed cookie, the hermit.
They’re called “hermits” because they stow away well. They apparently were a popular cookie for sailors because they keep so well. Here’s the recipe I’m using today:
From Good Housekeeping
|2 cups||all-purpose flour|
|1 teaspoons||ground cinnamon|
|1/2 teaspoon||baking powder|
|1/2 teaspoon||baking soda|
|1/2 teaspoon||ground ginger|
|1/4 teaspoon||ground nutmeg|
|1/8 teaspoon||ground cloves|
|1 cup||brown sugar|
|1/2 cup||(1 stick) butter or margarine, softened|
|1/3 cup||dark molasses|
|1 cup||dark raisins|
|1 cup||pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)|
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 large cookie sheets.
- On waxed paper, combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and cloves.
- In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses until well combined. Beat in egg. With mixer at low speed, beat in flour mixture just until blended, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. With spoon, stir in raisins and pecans if using, just until combined.
- Divide dough into quarters. With lightly floured hands, shape each quarter into 12″ by 1 1/2″ log. On each prepared cookie sheet, place 2 logs, leaving about 3 inches in between. Bake logs on 2 oven racks 13 to 15 minutes or until logs flatten and edges are firm, rotating cookie sheets between upper and lower racks halfway through baking. Cool logs 15 minutes on cookie sheets on wire racks.
- Transfer logs to cutting board. Slice each log crosswise into 8 cookies. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
You will get very messy making these. You will be sure that they’re not turning out right. But they will be fine, and you will enjoy a soft, spicy taste of autumn goodness.
Thanks, Bessie, for introducing me to the hermit.