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All too often, old-fashioned recipes for hermits result in rock-hard cookies peppered with bland, tough raisins. Here’s how we made sure ours were chewy and gently redolent of molasses and warm spices.
1. MELT, DON’T CREAM, THE BUTTER: Traditional recipes for hermits call for creaming the butter, but this produces a dry, biscuitlike cookie. Melting the butter and then cooking it until it browns delivers a chewier, moister cookie, with a nutty flavor.
2. PAIR LIGHT MOLASSES WITH DARK BROWN SUGAR: Light, or mild, molasses provides a gentle molasses flavor, which is further underscored by the caramelized notes of dark brown sugar.
3. BLOOM THE SPICES: Adding cinnamon, allspice, and ginger to the browned butter blooms their natural flavor, which allows us to use a smaller quantity of each for gently spiced cookies that aren’t dusty-tasting like so many old-fashioned versions.
4. MAKE A RAISIN PUREE: Hermits are typically studded with raisins, but those raisins can often bake up hard and chewy. For rich raisin flavor in every bite, we puree them with chopped crystallized ginger and then combine the mixture with the melted butter to soften the raisins. This helps distribute raisin flavor throughout the cookies, while the pureed ginger lends pungent sweetness and chew.
MAKE IT NOW: Our recipe for Hermit Cookies is free through November 7, 2013.