Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Jan 11, 2011 09:55 PM

Great Chewy Deep Flavored Hermits Recipe?

My husband hankers for hermits like those described above- from childhood visits to western PA. All the bakery hermits he has tried in the Boston area over the years- have been too cakey for him. He wants chew, and deep molasses flavor. Akin to the Newman's Own hermits, but better. Can you steer me to a great recipe, one that, hopefully, you have tested? Thanks so much for your help.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've got two recipes for you. The first is a good old fashioned chewy, rich, spicy hermit from KAF. These are my personal favorite. I use all purpose flour and sub unsalted butter for the margarine, but do use the shortening called for, and dark raisins only. My mom used to drizzle a simple confectioner's sugar glaze on her hermits, with just a hint of lemon in it:

    The other recipe, from Nick Malgieri, is mrbushy's favorite, a bit less intense and not quite as chewy as the KAF recipe, no molasses, just dark brown sugar, and the addition of walnuts is a bit unusual. I suppose they could be left out. I use cold coffee instead of milk:

    If your husband wants chewy with good molasses flavor, I'd go with the KAF recipe first. If neither of these recipes won't work for you, google "chewy hermits" for other recipe options. There was a BCOM thread recently for Maida Heatter's Cookies, and although I have that book, I've never made her version of hermits. No comment about how the texture of her hermit recipe is, but a post in the thread does mention the glaze:


    23 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      I make the KAF recipe using the 10" pan. I do use the white whole wheat flour because it adds flavor. I use butter instead of margarine because I never use margarine. I cut the sugar to 1/2 cup which makes the molasses taste more prominent. These are great!

      1. re: magiesmom

        mm and bgirl,i ust realized that this recipe has no eggs! is that how you make it? th you. hoping to make tomorrow, MLK day.

          1. re: opinionatedchef

            No, no eggs. Let us know how they turn out.

            1. re: bushwickgirl

              i will. btw, a comical aside just for you. i was telling My Love about how helpful you and mm have been towards this project and then i laughed about your moniker and explained why. THEN he said, but, mindy, isn't that BushMILL Irish whiskey you're thinking of? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so there goes my 'understanding' of your clever name! so, what is bushwick? it sounds like a town in NJ..... (I'm just no. of boston)

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                Bushwick is a section in northeast Brooklyn NY, with quite a history; it was the location of the first beer brewery in BK, as the area at that time was populated by German immigrants who were great brewers. Things have changed a bit since those days. Now it's an low income, ethnically diverse area, Blacks, Hispanics, some Italians-Americans families and a bunch of young white hipster types, of which I am an old hipster type, all living together in harmony.


        1. re: bushwickgirl

          I think these will do the trick. The secret is to take them out while they still seem soft in the middle because they will firm up a bit as they cool.

          Cousin Louise's Hermits

          3/4 cup shortening (the original recipe calls for all Crisco, but I will sometimes do 1/4 c butter and 1/2 c shortening. depends on my mood!)
          3/4 cup sugar
          3/4 cup brown sugar
          3 cups flour
          2 eggs, beaten
          1/2 teasp. salt
          1 teasp. baking soda
          1 teasp. cinnamon
          1 teasp. cloves
          1/2 teasp. ginger
          1/4 cup molasses
          18 cup water
          1 cup raisins
          1 cup nuts (optional)

          Cover raisins with boiling water to plump them. When you drain, save 1/8 cup of raisin water to mix with the molasses. Cream shortening and sugars. Mix dry together and add to shortening ,alternating with molasses and water mixture. Stir in drained raisins. Roll dough into 4 logs, about 10-12 inches in length and place 2 on baking sheet, pressing down to flatten slightly. They will spread a bit so leave room for this. Brush with remaining egg.

          Bake at 350 for around 15 minutes, but begin checking at around 12.

          The secret to these really is in the timing. To get the moist, chewy texture, watch them closely checking for firm edges and a darkening of the dough, but the center will still be rather soft to the touch. You can always put them back in if they need a bit more, but there's no going back if they become firm and crunchy. Still tasty but not what you seem to be looking for. These freeze well too.

          1. re: tweetie

            That's 1/8 cup water in the ingredients list, correct?

            1. re: tweetie

              That's a high proportion of sugar to molasses if you really want the molasses flavor.

            2. re: bushwickgirl

              bg, i KNEW i really liked you!! "I use cold coffee instead of milk" YAY you!
              thanks so much for these, bg and all of you.magiesmom, i'll follow your lead on that; thnx for that info!(but what is white whole wheat flour?) and tweetie, thanks so much for taking the time to transpose that. the log directions are perfect for him.

              i'm psyched! we have 16" snow and it's still coming down here in boston area. beautiful and baking-inspiring, right/!

              btw, i have a really great recipe for deep rich candied ginger gingerbread, if anyone wants it. i think i posted it before maybe.

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                white whole wheat flour is milled from a hard winter wheat and has all the nutritional attributes of regular whole wheat but is lighter in color and flavor. They carry it at Trader joe's, here's the link to KA about it. it is easily substituted for white flour in hearty baked goods , and adds a nice dimension as well as fiber.

                1. re: magiesmom

                  thnx for that info; i did go to the link but was surprised that they don't provide a nutritional sheet on their different flours so i could compare them. i requested that info. will margerine give the same effect as shortening- in these hermit recipes, y'all?

              2. re: bushwickgirl

                I made the KAF version (no egg) and ,well, how do i say this nicely? i really don't like them. there. I used 100% white wh wht flour from KAF/Tr J. Texture is good. chewiness is good. when made into logs and flattened, baked ,cooled and sliced, appearance is excellent.

                but WAAAAAAAY too sweet. ugh. and not a deep enough flavor. Now, i only baked one of the 4 logs, so i'm considering what to do. make another identical dough w/ no white sugar,combine it w/ the dough i didn't bake,add , espresso powder, and more ginger, salt, and cloves and a bit of chopped figs (they're in the pretty good Newman's Own hermits). Then taste and add molasses if it needs sweetener.....

                what do youall think of that strategy?

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  The KAF page does mention that this recipe is a high fat, high sugar cookie, although I don't personally think that 1 c sugar:3 c flour with a half cup of molasses is a very high ratio of flour to sugar. Anyway, magiesmom mentioned upthread that she uses half the sugar in the recipe for a more prominent molasses flavor. I'm sorry the recipe was too sweet for you; trial and error is the name of the game often in baking, until you get it to your liking.

                  I can't tell you if your idea about making another dough without sugar and combining it will be successful; you may be throwing good money after bad. All I can say is that if you don't want to bake off the logs you have and perhaps give them away at the office or to neighbors, and then start over on a new batch with half the amount of sugar, and increase the spices, but be careful with the cloves, then just try it out and see how it works.

                  I do like the fig addition idea, they seem to fit a hermit.

                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                    ironic, after all the time i put into this, that i was looking for mm's mention of cutting the sugar but somehow missed it. phoo. will report back on my fix it attempt.

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      Ok, I'm sorry you didn't have success the first time out, but don't be discouraged. Looking forward to hearing of a more successful hermit outcome in the very near future. Besides, a fix it attempt may lead to a great delicious discovery, you never know...

                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                        I am so sorry about the sugar thing. try again! Different molasses do taste different too. Mine ( i can't remember the brand now and I have the flu so I don't want to schlep down to the kitchen). Figs will not make them less sweet. hermits are very sweet, I eat them in tiny pieces. Espresso sounds good, more ginger is always good. And a little black pepper.
                        Having worked with this recipe you can have a reference point for others you may find.

                        1. re: magiesmom

                          hi you 2 helpful women! well, what i did is this:
                          [-i had removed and baked 1/4 of x1 of the KAF recipe(subbing butter for marg. and using 100% white wh wht flr from KAF). too sweet yech.]
                          - in the kitch aid i made x1 the recipe again , w/ no sugar at all and with:
                          1 c. molasses (grandma's)
                          more ginger and cloves, no nutmeg
                          espresso powder
                          black pepper

                          then i added into same kitchaid the 3/4 of the recipe leftover from before.
                          then i added:
                          1 c. minced mission figs
                          1/2 c. raisins
                          3/4 c. ch. walnuts

                          what i think now:

                          hmmmmm. taste/flavor is good and deep. not dry but not really CHEWy>> i think partly because of the flour and the fact that oil wasn't used.(Newman's Own hermits are chewier than mine, and have palm fruit oil in them and no other shortening; also no eggs fyi)

                          The white wh wht flr: i like the flavor but think i'd do 1/2 this and 1/2 white flr next time because of the grittiness it has. I also think it may produce a heavier (more leaden but not really 'leaden') product. depending on what My Love thinks of them tomorrow, i may add to the one still-reserved log- some minced candied ginger and dried cranberries and maybe minced candied orange peel. i mean, as long as i'm playing here!...........

                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                            sigh with pleasure.
                            last night, I 'fixed' the recipe for good. fyi, i left out 1 log , raw, on a counter, in plastic,4 nights- to no ill effect. to this last log, which i crumbled into a bowl, i added dried TrJ cranberries, chopped trJ candied ginger, finely zested clementine peel, bit of liquid coffee. BINGO!!! even I ate them! so, i'll write it up and post it soon. yay! perseverance furthers!!

                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                              "perseverance furthers!!"

                              It sounds like you had some fun as well.

                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                you bet, all thanks to you and mm and the other generous posters here!

                2. I never heard of a Hermit food thing until a minute ago. They are a kind of spiced molasses sweet treat right? The posted recipes have no images, sound good though.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: CCSPRINGS

                    Basically, yes, in a nutshell, they can be cake-like or chewy, spiced with sweet spices, flavored with molasses, usually contain raisins, sometimes glazed, and are considered to be a bar cookie. They are an old fashioned cookie that as been around for probably a century, maybe longer. Here's a photo:


                    November 15 is National Hermit Cookie Day.

                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                      I need one. What have you chowhounders done? I am not waiting till 11/15/11. I just shoveled snow and played with the dog. Now I need a hermit and tea.

                    2. re: CCSPRINGS

                      yes, they're kind of like a bar version of betty crocker's old Molasses Crinkles recipe, w/ raisins. the flavor (not texture etc) is gingerbread-like.

                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                        My mom made them, but when she didn't, we had the Archway version, which were glazed, if you remember the Archway Cookie Company.

                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                          bgirl, can i use margarine for shortening? i have no idea if there's a baking difference between marg and crisco. thx much.

                          yes, i do remember archway, btw!

                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                            Well, margarine is in the recipe for moisture and flavor. I can say that if KAF posts a recipe that calls for margarine, then you could use it in good faith, but I prefer butter. I have a feeling that this KAF recipe may be a decades old version, when margarine was used with wild abandon, perhaps during WWII or later 50's and 60's. To answer your margarine for shortening question, if I understood you correctly, you want to use butter and margarine? No, don't use butter and margarine. Get some non-hydroginated vegetable shortening and use butter.

                            Shortening adds crispness and prevents dough spread in bar type cookies, although it doesn't have much flavor. Margarine has a high water content and will cause the most dough spread, over butter and shortening, so it's somewhat counterintuitive to use it in a bar cookie recipe. When a cookie dough recipe call for both butter/margarine and shortening, the butter adds flavor and only medium spread, and the shortening helps the dough retain it's shape (as in a bar.) Since I don't think margarine tastes very good, I use butter. For me, butter and shortening gives are the best of both worlds.

                            I would try the white whole wheat flour as well for baking, I personally can't afford to buy from KAF right now, but it's good to know Trader Joes carries it, as I have one near by.

                            You got some major snow up there yesterday, CNN called it snowmageddon.

                            1. re: bushwickgirl

                              It is very cheap at Trader joe's, as I recall. I think 5 lbs for 1.99.

                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                that is a beautifully written explanation; very articulate, so i thank you so much. I finally get it, after all these years. bg, i hope you don't mind, but i copied your post into a new thread that i think would be very helpful info to a lot of CHs.

                        2. re: CCSPRINGS

                          Here's a picture of Maida Heatter's recipe.
                          They contain 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup molasses.

                          1. re: blue room

                            Thank you, I have begun a Hermit quest. They look amazing.

                        3. My family is from Western PA. I use the recipe from the Fannie Farmer cookbook. No molasses, brown sugar instead, and coffee and sour cream. I've been so bad about providing recipes when I say I will, but I'll try. These are definitely chewy.

                          Edit - I happened to have typed it up for my sister. I usually double the recipe.

                          1/2 cups raisins
                          1/2 cup chopped walnuts
                          1 1/3 cups flour, sifted
                          1/2 cup butter
                          1 cup brown sugar, sifted
                          1/2 tsp salt
                          1 egg
                          1/4 cup sour cream
                          1/4 cup coffee (you can sub sour cream for the coffee)
                          1/4 tsp baking soda
                          3/4 tsp cinnamon
                          1/2 tsp ground cloves

                          Preheat oven to 375.

                          Toss raisins and nuts in 1/4 cup of flour. Cream the butter and add the brown sugar gradually until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and then sour cream/coffee (it will look like a big mess at this point - don't worry). Then gradually add dry ingredients to the liquid. Stir in raisins and nuts. Drop on a greased cookie sheet and bake 12 - 15 minutes (check them ... it always takes me a batch or so to get them right when I've not made them for a while).