Last Updated on October 24, 2022 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD
What Are Hermit Cookies Made of?
Hermit cookies are a soft, spiced cookie filled with raisins, currents or dates, and nuts.
Their subtle cinnamon and nutmeg flavors and chewy textures will have you reaching for a third, then maybe a fourth.
There is some diversity in recipes with which dried fruits are included. Many have just raisins and nuts. Others I’ve seen have currants.
In my grandma’s kitchen, hermit cookies included raisins, dates and walnuts. I love including dates, which have a deep, butterscotch flavour and add moisture to the cookie.
Are Hermit Cookies Healthy?
Hermit cookies are in fact on the healthy side. With half the quantity of butter in a typical cookie recipe, they are lighter than most.
Plus, they’re jam packed with raisins, dates and walnuts, which are all good for you.
As a dietitian, I would definitely put them on par with a granola bar in terms of healthiness as a snack option.
Why Are They Called Hermit Cookies?
The speculation surrounding the name “Hermit Cookies” is that you can tuck them away and they last a really long time. Perhaps this is why they gained popularity, because they kept well on long trips.
What do Hermit Cookies Taste Like?
Hermit cookies are warmly spiced, soft, filled with chewy textures and are utterly delicious. But just because they are spiced, don’t compare them to a true spice cookie (which have heavier flavours of molasses, cloves and ginger). The flavours here are subtle.
Hermits are sweetened with only brown sugar, which imparts an irresistible caramel taste.
What is the History of Hermit Cookies?
Hermit cookies are a very old New England classic recipe, that travelled up the coast to become a beloved recipe on Canada’s East coast as well. My classic hermit cookie recipe is inspired by my grandmother’s old cookbook from the early 1900s but the recipe itself surely predates that.
How to Store Hermits
Keep Hermit Cookies in an airtight container for up to 10 days. Because they are made with brown sugar, they actually attract moisture for a couple of days after baking. Keep them stored separately from any cookies that are meant to be crisp, as this tender cookie will soften other cookies around them.
Can you Freeze Hermit Cookies?
Hermit cookies freeze beautifully. You can freeze baked cookies flat on a baking sheet first (to prevent the moist cookies sticking together) then transfer to freezer bags to store up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.
You can alternatively freeze the unbaked dough. This is the pro way I like to scoop and chill or freeze my cookie dough.
Easy Old Fashioned Hermit Cookies
- ½ cup butter room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- 2 large eggs
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp allspice
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup chopped dates
- 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a standing mixer on medium speed, cream together butter and brown sugar. Add eggs and beat until mixture is pale and thick – about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Incorporate raisins, dates and nuts (depending on your mixer, you may have to do this part by hand with a wooden spoon).
- Drop cookies by tablespoonfuls onto a well-greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart (you will have to do batches). Bake 10-12 minutes, until edges are set but centres still appear moist. Cool on baking sheet 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.