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Old-Fashioned Hermit Cookies

Mary Anne here. Hermit cookies are hands-down my ex-husband’s favorite treat. Tim is very conscientious about his diet, but when it comes to eating these chewy gems, all thoughts of eschewing sugar are cast aside. When a certain baking company stopped mass-producing the bars a few years back, I swear he was bereft. He needn’t worry though; Mariel is becoming a terrific baker in her own right and I happen to know she has baked him many batches of his second-favorite treat – Oatmeal Raisin cookies!

As for the name of these spicy, gingerbread-like bars, I did a bit of research and discovered that they earned their name as “hermits” because their flavor deepens when hidden away in a closed container for a day or two. In any event, these are the perfect Christmas cookie and so easy to whip up. Since they keep for six days in a sealed container, it might be a good idea to have some on hand for last minute gifts or a Holiday Sweet Swap.

And as for my ex-husband’s hankering for this beloved cookie bar, I suspect a Mari-elf might slip some of these gingery goodies into his stocking this year. Just a hunch.

Old-Fashioned Hermit Cookies
Makes 24

1 stick unsalted butter, softened – stock
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed – stock
1 egg, lightly beaten – stock
¼ cup unsulphured molasses – $3.19
1¾ cups all-purpose flour – stock
½ teaspoon baking powder – stock
½ teaspoon baking soda – stock
½ teaspoon salt – stock
2 teaspoons ground ginger – stock
1 teaspoon cinnamon – stock
½ teaspoon nutmeg – stock
¼ teaspoon ground cloves – stock
¾ cup currants – $2.69
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional) – $1.29
Grand Total Assuming a Well-Stocked Pantry: $7.17
Total Per Cookie: $0.30

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray a 9 x 13 baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter or spray the paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter with the brown sugar. Add the egg, beating well. Pour in the molasses, mixing well to combine.

4. On the lowest speed of the mixer, gradually add the flour/spice mixture until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the currants and nuts.

5. Spread evenly over the prepared pan. As the mixture is so thick, use 2 rubber spatulas in opposing positions to spread evenly.

6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

7. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into 24 squares and store in a sealed container for up to 6 days.