Easy Hermit Cookies

By:  Julie

Serves:  Makes 3 dozen cookies

Time:  10min mixing, 12 min baking.

My grandmother made hermit cookies that were one of my favourite treats.  When I think of them, I remember the sound of the screen door on the porch, the texture of the carpet under my bare feet, and the way the smell of raisins and spice hit you when you opened the door into the house.  She would be standing there in a crazy-patterened house-dress, one fist on her hip, stirring something and humming under her breath.  If you were really lucky she would be singing.  I’m shocked to say that these are actually better than hers, (which were almost sort of muffiny-fat dense cookies).  There is no dough- chilling involved, just mix and bake!  Perfect for homemade in a hurry.

I should tell you that I love raisins. I probably put them in more things than I should. Even if you’re not a raisin cheerleader like I am, I encourage you to try these.  The dough is sweet so the walnuts are important to provide balance, salt too.  Watch these carefully –  with the addition of the spices it’s hard to tell when the edges start to brown.  You want them to to be browned around the edges and slightly coloured on top.  If you over-bake them they will still be delicious… just dunk them in some milk!

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You Will Need:

  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinammon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 cups of raisins
  • 1 cup walnuts – toasted and chopped

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Cream the butter with the sugar and beat on high for 2-3 min.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating in between.  Add the vanilla and beat for 2 min.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour with the salt, baking soda and spices.  Add to the cookie mixture a third at a time, beating well in between.  Add the raisins and the nuts and mix with a wooden spoon until combined.

Using a cookie scoop is a bit challenging since the dough is so fluffy.  You want 1 inch balls of dough dropped onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  This makes the perfect size cookie. Don’t flatten them out, they will settle as they bake.

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Bake at 375F for 9-12 minutes.  See that gaping hole below where once there was a cookie? I may have stuffed one in my mouth while they were still 375F, possibly burning the roof of my mouth and impairing my ability to taste for the rest of the day.

Worth It.

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Maple Raisin Butter Tarts

By Julie

Time:  2 hours: 1 hour prep and bake, 1 hour chill time for pastry (optional if using store bought)

Serves:  Makes 12 tarts

My mom makes delicious butter tarts by substituting maple syrup for corn syrup.  I tried to make one with just maple syrup, but I found I didn’t enjoy them as much as the corn syrup, maple ratio.  To me, the perfect butter tart is runny, a sensuous combination of salty and sweet, and has delicious golden raisins. Store bought crust is fine, but there really is no substitution for homemade tart pastry.  This one is very forgiving and easy to roll so give it a try.

You Will Need

For the Pastry:

  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp ice water

For the Filling:

  • 3/4 cup of brown sugar ( I used dark because i like the flavor better, but use what you have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup of real maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup of corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup of butter, melted, browned, and cooled
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp of real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of golden raisins (thompsons will work also if that’s what you have

 

Make the Pastry

Yay for using a mixer!  Lots of bakers will go on about the merits of making dough by hand.  Learning how is important because you need to appreciate what really good pastry feels like in each stage so that you learn how to ensure the right flour to water consistency, but this one is super forgiving and is fine in your mixer.  Use the paddle attachment and combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  Add the butter pieces and mix until it looks crumbly but you still have some larger butter pieces.  This is what makes a flakey dough, when the butter melts in the oven and creates air pockets.  Whisk the egg with the water and add it to your mixture.  Use the mix setting until dough comes together.  Shape it into two logs, like you’re going to make slice cookies, and wrap it in plastic.  Chill for at least an hour to make sure that butter is cold and the gluten relaxed before you roll it out.

Remove the dough from the fridge and preheat your oven to 400F.  Grease a 12 cup muffin pan, and lightly flour your work surface.  Cut your pastry logs into 12 equal portions and roll into circles.  Place each circle in the muffin cups gently.  Overlap is ok, just make sure you maneuver the dough into the bottom of the cups.  Gently push the seams together.  Let your dough lay over the top of the muffin cups a bit.  Cut off any excess (you don’t want the crust of one tart touching another).  Place tray in the fridge to cool for 20 minutes while you make the filling to prevent shrinkage. You want that butter to be cold when it hits the oven.

Make The Filling

Whisk the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl (preferably with a spout) until combined.  Add eggs, whisking in 1 at a time is easier to combine, then vinegar and vanilla.  Grab your shells from the fridge and place raisins in the bottom of each.  Fill just a smidge over 3/4 full with filling.  If you didn’t leave extra dough at the top of your cups, you may want to use a bit less filling so they don’t overflow.

Place the tarts in the oven and bake for 5 minutes, then, like a pie, reduce to 375 and continue baking for about 20 minutes.  You will see the tarts puff up or “dome”.  Cool completely before removing from pan.

This is the only recipe I will ever use for these.  I can’t make them that often because I am fully capable of eating all of them.  They keep well in an airtight container on the counter for a few days or chilled in the fridge.  They also freeze well.  Just be careful to thaw at room temperature.  A brief stay in the microwave turns the filling to molten lava and you’ll burn your face off.