Keeping a Tradition Alive
One thing that has remained in my family over four generations is my great grandmother’s delicious and addictive hermit cookies. As it turns out, hermits is a type of cookie (which these days most people have never heard of), so this is my family’s version of this spice cookie with raisins and nuts.
This is simple cookie to make and is the only thing in my family that surpasses the classic homemade tollhouse cookie. My great-grandmother was from E. Tawas, Michigan, second generation Swedish. I knew her well when growing up. She baked these cookies, a black strap molasses gingerbread, and an airy bread that no one in my family managed to duplicate.
As I became increasingly a healthier eater over the years, I was concerned about making these, since the recipe calls for shortening. But as there is now zero trans fats shortening, I figure — go for it. I am asked for the recipe often and I’m happy to give it out. The truth is, it seems nobody actually bakes and cookies anymore.
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 heaping teaspoons cinnamon
- 3 heaping teaspoons nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 box of raisins (12-16 oz.)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 heaping teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons buttermilk
- 3 cups flour (or slightly more)
- 3 eggs, beaten well
- 1 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 heaping cup shortening
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the first 10 ingredients until well blended.
- Using a stand or hand mixer and a large bowl, cream the eggs, sugar and shortening together until thoroughly combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the sugar and egg mixture until dough is formed. Finish combining the ingredients with a spatula or large spoon.
- Refrigerate dough until chilled through, 3-5 hours.
- Pre-heat oven to 375°F/190°C.
- Scoop out tablespoons of chilled dough onto a sheet or cookie pan and flatten drops with your fingers or a floured fork until flat, and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies are just barely light brown around the edges.