Hermits and Blackberry Lillies

I have no excuse for offering a cookie recipe on a day when the temperature is 97 degrees here in the Midwest, and your enthusiasm for baking may be at a low ebb, except to say that this is a very good recipe, and it doesn’t take long to make or bake. And they are so good, and perfect for picnics or lunches. The cookies are called Sour Cream Hermits, and the recipe comes from my favorite cookie cookbook, Big, Soft, Chewy Cookies by Jill Van Cleave. They are plump, moist little cakes studded with nuggets of dates and walnuts.

Why are they called hermits? There are a number of theories, one of which stems from the fact that they are good keepers, and may hide in a cookie tin for awhile, like hermits.

Sour Cream Hermits

The ice cream scoop will make perfectly-shaped cookies, but you can also use a spoon to scoop up about two tablespoons of dough.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped walnuts

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth, and add sour cream and egg and blend. In a separate bowl, mix flour, spices, baking soda, and salt. Add to the creamed mixture. Stir in dates and walnuts.

Let dough sit for 10 to 15 minutes as you tidy up–it will firm up and be easier to handle. Using a 1/4-cup ice cream scoop, scoop dough and level off with a knife. Release dough onto greased cookie sheet, spacing about 2 to 3 inches apart. Bake until cookies are firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Makes about 16 cookies.

Cool, and dust with powdered sugar.

These cookies would also be delicious if you add chopped candied orange peel, and then glazed them with a chocolate glaze.

These “cookies” really are like small cakes, and would make nice little gifts at Christmas. Just wrap in waxed paper, tie with twine, and add a homespun tag. Now if only we can remember this next December!

Meanwhile, it’s July, and the blackberry lilies are in bloom. Blackberry lilies (Belamcanda chinensis) are really in the iris family, and are perfect cottage garden flowers. After flowering, black seeds appear, which look like blackberries. They do self-seed, but in a circumspect manner, and are nice additions to the garden.

And now for one more picture of a goldfinch, which I took this morning as it sat in the sunshine.

4 thoughts on “Hermits and Blackberry Lillies

  1. Those cookies look good! I also was wondering why I was baking a small turkey this morning in this heat, especially when I had to lean over the hot oven to baste the bird. I guess I was the real turkey.

  2. I must try blackberry lillies again, now that I see yours. They’re also called toad lillies, right? Well, I grew them once and they disappeared into the ground the entire summer and fall and I thought they died. Then, I was outside in November that year and there they were, pretty as could be. Well, nice, but I rarely go out to where they were in November! I guess some bloom earlier though . . . ?

  3. Toad lillies (Tricyrtis) are a perennial. I’ve tried them and they’ve disappeared, too. Blackberry lillies are in the iris family. They have strange, orange roots. When they go to seed, I post a photo of the seeds, because they really do look like blackberries. Fran

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