Hermits have long been a favorite cookie of mine. They are soft, spicy cookies, dark with molasses or brown sugar, and loaded with chewy raisins or chopped dates. The origins of the name is lost in history. They may be drop cookies or bar cookies, but they all have the chewy/spicy thing going on.
I associate hermits, whether rightly or wrongly, with the old New England sailing villages of Nantucket Island, where the whaling ships voyaged to exotic lands, bringing back troves of cloves, sacks of nutmegs, and quills of cinnamon. I can imagine being in an old-fashioned New England kitchen, in a quaint beach cottage, making these as I look out to sea through a rose-covered bower. Ahoy there! So that’s my fantasy, it’s really fun, and I’m sticking to it! Here is the recipe.
Mocha-Frosted Soft Hermits
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 cup chopped walnuts
Heat oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add sour cream and egg and blend. In a separate bowl, mix flour, spices, baking soda and salt. Add to the creamed mixture, and then stir in the dates and walnuts.
Scoop dough with an ice cream scooper (about 2 tablespoons of dough). Bake until cookies are firm to the touch–about 15 to 16 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.
Make the following frosting: Mix 3 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa, 2 tablespoons instant coffee powder, and 2 tablespoons soft butter. Add 4 tablespoons of boiling water, and stir until smooth. Add another tablespoon of boiling water, if necessary, to make a thick glaze.
Baking notes: These cookies are soft and mild-flavored, but the coffee, spice, and chocolate flavors bloom the longer they sit. They are so perfect with a cup of coffee. I used coffee crystals rather than powder, and they didn’t totally dissolve, but cookies still tasted very good! It’s the combination of the creamy frosting with the soft cake-like cookie that is so good here! (The cookie recipe is from Big, Soft, Chewy Cookies by Jill Van Cleave. The frosting is from a newspaper clipping.)
I’ve brought out my box of spices, just for the occasion. (It’s from World Market.)
Lastly, a little sparrow, sitting on the garden fence. Peace to you. Fran