This weekend, recovering from the nonstop work of the past two weeks, I went on a baking bender. First up, a US cookie: Chocolate chip hermits. I remember making hermits when I was young. They were my second favorite cookie after chocolate chip. If I remember correctly there was at least a quarter cup of brewed coffee in the recipe, and I remember watching with fascination as the mixer made an emulsion of the coffee, brown sugar and shortening. Can honestly say I never dreamed of a mash-up of both chocolate chip and hermits. Sharon Tyler Herbst eschews the coffee for sour cream, cocoa powder and chocolate chips, which taste a little odd, in my opinion, with the cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and raisins. Around since colonial times, traditional hermits are chewy and good. According to Ms. Herbst the cookies may be called hermits because they are a little better after they have been hidden away for a few days for their flavors to marry. She also called for butter instead of shortening, and I happily complied. A liberty she might not have taken? Adding cocoa and chocolate chips. At some point I am going to try this recipe without those two ingredients. I might even throw in a little coffee for old times’ sake.
Second, another from the US: Chocolate-mint kisses. These are fiddly as they are meringue-based, and I do not always have the lightest touch when it comes to folding in ingredients gently. Meringue part worked fine (I love my Kitchenaid), and folding in two tablespoons of flour was not too difficult. Folding in three ounces of cooled, melted, unsweetened chocolate nearly took the air out, however. And then in went the miniature chocolate chips, three-quarters of a cup-worth. Light, sweet, chocolatey and minty, these are lovely. The recipe did point up one glaring lack in the cookie-baking-equipment department here: No pastry bag so I used a spoon. It’s probably just as well though. Transferring the egg white mixture to a pastry bag would have been the final nail in its coffin loft-wise, I’m fairly sure!