Old-Fashioned Hermit Cookies

Old-fashioned hermits with raisins and nuts
Diana Rattray
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 48 servings
Yields: 4 Dozen Cookies
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
72 Calories
3g Fat
11g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 48
Amount per serving
Calories 72
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 4%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 7mg 2%
Sodium 46mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 8mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 48mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Although there is no clear explanation for the name of these cookies, food historians place their origin in late 19th century New England, from whence the recipe reached Southeastern Canada and became an all-time favorite of the area. Although the "hermit" name could mean the cookies keep well, can "travel," and still be chewy and delicious after many days, other theories point out that their brown color is similar to hermit bags. Hermits are an American favorite thanks to their sweetness, the chewiness of the raisins, and the deliciously fragrant spice combination.

Other enthusiasts of the cookie consider them to be adapted from heavily spiced pastries coming from Europe and the Middle East. But whatever their origin might be, the truth is that these special treats are well embedded in many people's childhood memories, and can now be part of your cooking repertoire with very little effort. Flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and filled with dried fruit like raisins or dates, they get crunch from the classic chopped walnuts, but pecans, almonds, or pistachios are also a great substitution.

Commonly found in a square shape, our recipe is a drop cookie, for less handling of the dough and no cutting or shaping. Use the hermits as an afternoon treat, lunchbox snack, or mid-morning coffee break treat.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 dash ground cloves

  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened

  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee, cold

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dates, or raisins

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, or pecans

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper. Set aside.

  3. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves, if using. Set aside.

  4. With the help of an electric mixer, or in the large bowl of a standing mixer, beat the vegetable shortening, butter, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

  5. Once the fats are creamed with the sugar, add the egg and cold coffee. Beat on low speed until well blended.

  6. Little by little, add the flour mixture into the butter mixture and stir until well combined. Use low speed to fold all of the ingredients into a sticky dough. Stop the mixer once you have a nice creamy consistency.

  7. Fold in the dates or raisins and the walnuts.

  8. Drop the cookie dough by rounded teaspoon or small cookie scoop onto the prepared cookie sheet, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. They will spread out when cooking.

  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until light brown.

  10. Remove the cookies immediately and place them on top of a cooling rack. As they cool off, the texture will get chewier.

  11. Enjoy!

How to Store Hermits

Keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. These cookies will also keep nicely when frozen; simply thaw at room temperature before eating. Alternatively, freeze the cookie balls in the cookie sheet before baking, and then place the frozen dough balls into a freezer bag for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, leave the balls at room temperature for 45 minutes and bake as directed.

When Baking in Batches

If you are making more than one batch of cookies, use parchment to speed up the process. While one batch is baking, prepare another sheet of parchment paper with drop cookie dough. When the first batch is baked, slide the hermits off onto a rack. Carefully slide the loaded sheet of parchment paper onto the cookie sheet and continue baking.