|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 6g||8%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||11%|
|Total Carbohydrate 22g||8%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||4%|
|Total Sugars 13g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*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.|
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.
“A lovely spiced flavor makes these a nice alternative to a purely sweet treat. They go perfectly with tea and coffee if you don’t mind some extra caffeine.” —Noah Velush-Rogers
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened, more for greasing
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves, optional
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup brewed coffee, cold
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped dates, or raisins
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, or pecans
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
Position a rack in the upper and lower third of the oven and heat to 375 F. Lightly grease two cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves, if using. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the vegetable shortening, butter, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Once the fats are creamed with the sugar, add the egg and cold coffee. Beat on low speed until well blended.
Little by little, add the flour mixture into the butter mixture and stir until well combined. Use low speed to make a sticky dough. Stop the mixer once you have a nice creamy consistency.
Fold in the dates and the walnuts.
Drop the cookie dough by rounded teaspoons or small cookie scoops onto the prepared cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. They will spread when baking.
Bake until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the cookies immediately to a cooling rack. As they cool off, the texture will get chewier.
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.
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.