Hermits by Fannie Farmer

I’ve noticed a trend with Fannie Farmer’s cookies and that trend is that they do not taste like cookies.  They diverge greatly from what we have come to expect in a typical cookie.

Where the modern cookie is very sweet, the Fannie Farmer cookie has a mild sweetness.  Where a typical cookie’s texture is well… what is a typical cookie texture? Since 1963 leading cookie experts have been defining cookie texture as either “original” or “chewy”.  Yup, chips ahoy, the leading cookie expert, knows!  And then we have Fannie Farmer whose cookies do not meet either the “chewy” or the “original” category.  Her cookies are rather like shortbread, that is they are crisp without being dense.

All this cookie business had me wondering about the history of hermit cookies and why the texture is so different from a typical cookie.  So, I did a little digging and according to  bon appétit, the hermit cookie was designed to last the test of time.  My guess as to why the hermit cookie is more shelf-stable would be that it is a low-moisture food.  The FDA defines low-moisture foods (water activity < 0.60) as having an “extended shelf-life, even without refrigeration”.  Whatever the case, Fannie’s hermit cookies are tasty and have a crisp texture and nice flavor.

Recipe

  • 1/3 cup softened butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped raisins
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix the dry ingredients together.  Add the butter, sugar, milk, and raisins.  After combined, cool in fridge for 30 minutes.  Finally, roll out dough as Fannie instructs “as thin as possible”.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Quite tasty even though it isn’t very cookie-like.

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