Spectacular Ginger “Hermits”
Dec06

Spectacular Ginger “Hermits”

Click here to see all three clips of Orna making Hermits on YouTube >>  These soft and chewy, gingery cookie bars are the ultimate holiday cookie.   They originated in New England in the 1900’s, and supposedly gained their name because the flavor improves on day 2 or 3, after being stowed away like a “hermit”—perfect for making ahead and giving as gifts. This is a modern version, with brown butter, crystallized ginger, and raisins. I just can’t stop eating them! Click here for latest blogpost on visit to Weight Watchers meeting! The history My mother-in-law once raved about the “best cookie she ever tasted in her life,” and she managed to get the recipe from a friend in Calgary, Canada—Sam’s hometown. I was reluctant, because neither Sam nor I usually like dried fruit in cookies. But his folks convinced us how fabulous these fruity “ginger cookies” were, and I decided to brave the very basic recipe she gave me. The whole process was agonizing! I had scoured the internet for a recipe with similar ingredients and instructions, and discovered that they were actually called “Hermits.” But I couldn’t find exact details on how long or wide to make the logs of dough, how big to cut them, how many cookies it would turn out, etc. If you’ve been following any of my other posts, you’ll know that I LOVE details, so this one was a challenge. The baking times were very tricky, but I FINALLY got it right, and they were outstanding. (I now realize that since the recipe was from Calgary—which is at a higher altitude—I should’ve reduced the oven temp by 25 degrees.) I was still in search of a better version I’m not a fan of cloves—a predominant note in the Calgary recipe, which also has dried apricots and raisins or cherries. I was sure that a different combination of spices would make this cookie really shine. The problem with making something everybody likes is that they will compare everything similar to that and tell you not to bother!   I tried Iced Hermits from Martha Stewart’s Cookies (fabulous book!)—also with crystallized ginger. I thought they were quite good (though a bit rich), but Sam vetoed them in favor of the originals.         You can imagine my delight when I found a detailed recipe for Hermits in my Cook’s Illustrated Baking for the Holidays 2012 magazine. Now I love this magazine even more! (You can find them for a great price at Costco.) They test hundreds of recipes to find the perfect version, explaining the science of each step and method, complete with...

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