Hermit Cookies

 

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Hermit cookies

I am planning a trip to my older sister’s house.  Her twin boys are turning 9 years old.  Most of the cousins will be there for the party.  I’m sure we will have cake in the evening, but I decided to dig through the recipe boxes for a kid friendly recipe that the cousins (and everyone else) might enjoy.  I have heard my dad talk about Hermits and I remember my mom making them a few times when we were little.  So, when I came upon that recipe, I decided it might be just the thing.

Grandma Dora's typewriter.

Grandma Dora’s typewriter.

My grandmother was a secretary to a lawyer before she got married and became a farmer’s wife. She never learned how to drive, so she walked a mile to work each day, a mile home for lunch, a mile back after lunch and then a mile home at the end of the day.  She had an old typewriter, maybe from her days in the office.  The recipe for hermits is typed, but very brief. It was probably typed on that typewriter.  It says:

Hermits

  • 1/12 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons sweet milk
  • 1 cup chopped raisins
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • cinnamon (under this in pencil is written 1 teaspoon)
  • cloves (under this in pencil is written 1/2 teaspoon)
  • flour

There are no more directions than that.

Hermits Typed

For one week after my mom first married my dad, my parents lived “up the road” from the farm house in the “brown house” that my grandmother’s parents had built.  It was empty because my great grandmother had moved into the farm house with my grandparents after my great grandfather died.  So every morning that first week of my mom’s married life, she would walk up the road to the farm house while my dad went to work.  She would spend time visiting my grandmother and great grandmother and copy down recipes that my grandmother would tell her.  So, I decided to look in my mother’s recipe box and sure enough, I found the same recipe for Hermits, but this one was written in my mother’s handwriting and had a few more details.  The new recipe was as follows:

Hermits1

Hermits2

Hermits

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • Enough flour so isn’t sticky (use as little as possible) – in pencil above this is written 3 or 4 cups
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 4 tablespoons sweet milk
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • Roll mixture out – 1/4 inch thick.  Cut with cookie cutter and sugar top.

In pencil on the front, she had later added “375 degrees.”  There was still no mention of cook time.

Organic non-hydrogenated shortening

Organic non-hydrogenated shortening

Before I started making this recipe, I noticed that many of the recipes in our grandmother’s recipe boxes call for shortening.  I don’t usually cook with shortening, so it is not something I have on hand.  A couple of years ago I had attended a pie baking class and learned about an organic shortening that is non-hydrogenated.  I decided to buy this to use in my grandmother’s recipes.  I wasn’t sure exactly what sweet milk was referring to, but after a little research, I found that it is another name for whole milk.

I put the ingredients together and mixed them up in my Kitchenaid (all the while imagining the work it would have taken to stir all of this by hand).  I started out putting in 3 cups of flour, but found that it was too sticky and used a total of 4 cups in the end.

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Rolled out cookie dough

My Grandma Dora’s rolling pin that she used all the time only had a handle on one end.  She said she just liked it that way, but she really didn’t want to spend money on a new one.  My mother has an old jar, that she remembered my grandmother using the lid of to cut out the cookies.  I found the jar and used the lid for my batch.

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Putting sugar on top.

I then sprinkled them with sugar and baked them in the oven that had been preheated to 375 degrees.  I found that 9-10 minutes worked well to have the cookies come out of the oven nice and puffy.

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Hermit cookies on the cooling rack.

So, here is the recipe, one more time, in its completed form.

Hermits

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 3 to 4 cups of flour until dough is no longer sticky (use as little as possible)
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 4 tablespoons sweet milk (or whole milk)
  • 1 teaspoon soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll mixture out to a 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut with a cookie cutter and sprinkle sugar over the tops of the cookies.  Transfer to ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 9 to 10 minutes until cookies puff up and begin to brown slightly.

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Hermit cookies on Grandma Dora’s china plate.

I sampled one and found it to be delicious.  I think my nieces and nephews will enjoy this party treat.  I hope you make a batch yourself and enjoy the old time flavor of Hermit cookies.

Happy Baking!

Amy

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