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Tall Ship Kitchen

The Hermit Cookie A New England Tradition

The origin of this spicy and chewy "Great American Hermit" actually started in our own kitchen, "Tall Ship Kitchen" as we call it. However the origin of the cookie known as the Hermit is escentially unknown. As Hermit cookies keep quite well, (six months shelf life in the package) some speculate that sailers brought these with them when out on long whaling or fishing voyages in the late 19th century. It has shown up in some cook books in the fourth quarter of the 19th century in the New England area. We do know that a recipe was published in an 1877 Portland, Maine cookbook. There is also some speculation that they originated in the Upper Lake Champlain area of Vermont or New York.

A few years back I started researching how Hermit cookies are made and with some experimentation I hit on just the right combination of ingredients and the "Great American Hermit" was born. It is as authentic as any of the other variations that I have experimented with. What makes a Hermit cookie a Hermit cookie is simple. In general these Hermit cookies, or bars, are made with sugar and flour, molasses, and spices: such as cinnamon, clove, and either allspice, ginger, or nutmeg. Another key ingredient are the raisins. Some add other dried fruit such as dates, and also nuts, but I consider these bastardized variations of the "true" Hermit.

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