This is called procrastination, people. When you have at least one and a half thousand words to go until you hit the target for the day (25,005 words on the 15th – it’s hump day and it hurts) but you’ve hit writer’s block (hard. ouch) you write about… well… spicy hermit cookies.
It’s National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day. Don’t ask me where, I was just procrastinating, I mean getting lost in the beauty of, I mean, reading Sweetapolita’s blog when she linked me to this site where they have a directory listing of National Dessert Days. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s predominantly US based but they do have National Peach Melba Day (January 13) so there’s hope for us Aussies.
So what, exactly, is a spicy hermit cookie? Well, I searched the interwebs, the fountain of all knowledge, and found this particular recipe on the Joy of Baking. Apparently, they’re called hermit cookies because they keep well, so they’re good to squirrel away, like a hermit, for later.
And they’re spicy.
I didn’t have all the proper ingredients, so I improvised. But they are just as good as real ones, I promise. (She says, having never tried an actual spicy hermit cookie.) Improvisation is encouraged in baking.
Try them! They’re good, I promise. And they’re good for procrastination, too. They are really easy to make and it’s fairly simple to swap some of the ingredients around if you don’t have them on hand.
Spicy Hermit Cookies
Ok, so I didn’t have allspice, so I swapped in ginger and nutmeg. I didn’t have raisins, so I swapped in sultanas. I skipped the dates and used slivered almonds instead of pecans. They’re still good. And a perfect cookie jar cookie.
115g butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp bi carb soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup raisins
1 cup pitted dates, chopped
1 cup pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two baking trays with baking paper.
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, bi carb soda, salt and spices. Fold into butter mixture in two batches. Fold in fruit and nuts.
Drop tablespoons of mixture onto the baking trays and bake 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Let completely cool, then eat with cold milk or store in amazing cookie jar for future munchies.
Not any cake that isn’t to share, really. Where’s the fun in eating a cake on your own?
This particular cake is a yellow cake and is best eaten at the end of a spontaneous dinner party with seven other people. Coffee is optional but not recommended if you’re about to go to bed. Which we were, pretty much. So coffee was out. But caramel cake is amazing on its own. Even a day later after being in the fridge, uncovered.
It is also really easy to make and it’s likely you’ll have all the ingredients on hand.
So get on it!
[PS: I know it’s been a while. A long while. I was away, and then I was away again, and then I was sick, and it’s been difficult to get myself back in the groove. But here I am! And ready for a spring/summer of amazing food that I can’t wait to share with you.]
[PPS: You’ll notice a lot of the photos here (the fantasticly shot and styled ones that look amazing) are not of my own doing – I like to share some link love every now and then. Check these people out! They’re amazing.)
Caramel Layer Cake
Adapted (not much!) from Smitten Kitchen
2 cups and 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
125g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, well-shaken (or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tbsp white vinegar, set out for ten minutes and well-shaken)
For the Caramel:
1 cup heavy cream (I used 300ml)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
Butter a 20cm cake pan (I used a square one), line with baking paper and set aside. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Sift (again) the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Cream the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Fold in the dry ingredients in three batches until they are just incorporated. Fold in the buttermilk.
Pour into prepared pan, smooth out top and rap on counter to release air bubbles. Bake 20-30 minutes. Let rest in pan five minutes, then cool on rack until completely cool.
For the caramel:
First, a note. I did not use a candy thermometer – I didn’t feel the need to, plus I don’t have one (which makes it kinda difficult). I will, however, put the necessary temperatures so that those of you who do have candy thermometers can use them.
Bring cream, brown sugar, corn syrup and a pinch of salt to a boil in a medium heavy based saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil until it reaches 98-100 degrees celsius. Stir in vanilla.
Place completely cooled cake on a cooling rack, over a baking tray. Pour the hot caramel glaze over the cake and let cool before you gobble it up with those seven other people I mentioned, after a spontaneous dinner party and movie night.