Good 'n' Chewy Hermits

We're always on the lookout for favorite old New England recipes, ones that 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.
Prep
15 mins
Bake
20 to 30 mins
Total
45 mins
Yield
2 dozen squares
Good 'n' Chewy Hermits

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan. See "tips," below for alternate pan choices.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, shortening and butter until smooth. Beat in the spices, salt, and baking soda.
  3. Slowly stir in the flour, then add the molasses and beat to combine. Stir in the raisins last.
  4. Pat hermits into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan; the mixture will be quite dry.
  5. Bake the hermits 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; they should barely be pulling away from the edge of the pan.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting. Store, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • This recipe can be made with part (or all) whole wheat flour in place of the all-purpose flour. If you make the bars 100% whole wheat, we recommend adding 2 tablespoons water at the same time as the molasses. The extra liquid will help the hermits stay soft.
  • This particular hermit recipe makes flat, chewy hermits, rather than the cakey ones preferred by some. Baked in a half-sheet (13" x 18") pan, these hermits make rather thin (1/4") bars; baked in a jelly-roll pan (approx. 10" x 15"), they're somewhat fatter; and baked in a 9" x 13" pan, they're like molasses brownies.