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We're always on the lookout for favorite old New England recipes, ones which have stood the test of time. Because of their high sugar and fat content, these bars have great keeping qualities; back in the days of the clipper ship, tins of hermits accompanied many a sailor as he set out for the Orient, or far-flung ports in other parts of the world.
This particular hermit recipe makes flat, chewy hermits, rather than the cakey ones preferred by some. We found this recipe is a very good one for use with our new white whole wheat flour; after all, if you're going to eat a high-fat, high-sugar cookie, why not at least add some fiber? Baked in a half-sheet (13 x 18-inch) pan, these hermits make rather thin (1/4-inch) bars; baked in a jelly-roll pan (approx. 10 x 15-inch), they're somewhat fatter; and baked in a 9 x 13-inch pan, they're like molasses brownies.
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) shortening
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, or 100% White Whole Wheat Flour (12 ounces), or a combination
1/2 cup (6 ounces) molasses
1 cup (5 1/4 ounces) raisins, either dark or golden
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, shortening and margarine till smooth. Beat in the spices, salt and baking soda.
Slowly stir in the flour, then add the molasses and beat well again. Stir in the raisins last.
Pat hermits into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan; the mixture will be quite dry. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in a light-colored aluminum pan; 20 to 25 minutes in a darker pan. In either case, don't over-bake; bars should barely be pulling away from the edge of the pan. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.
Nutrition information per serving (1 piece, 31 g; about a 2 x 3-inch piece from the half-sheet pan, or a 1 x 3-inch piece from the 9 x 13-inch pan): 128 cal, 5 g fat, 1 g protein, 11 g complex carbohydrates, 8 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 86 mg sodium, 128 mg potassium, 1 mg iron, 30 mg calcium, 18 mg phosphorus. Note: You can double your fiber to 2 g by using white whole wheat or regular whole wheat flour in place of all-purpose flour.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 8, September-October 1992 issue.