Filled with spices and flavored with molasses, hermit cookies are an old-fashioned New England recipe known for its ease. The bar-like cookies keep for quite a while when stored away properly, hence their name!

hermit cookie leaning on more bars dusted with confectionrs' sugar.

Ah yes, another classic New England recipe has made its way onto If You Give a Blonde a Kitchen. For those of you who have been here for a while, you know I love my New England roots and will use them as an excuse to make anything from whoopie pies to Nantucket cranberry pie. This time around I’m making hermit cookie bars!

You may ask, “What are hermit cookies?” They are spiced molasses bars with raisins. They are baked in logs, similar to gingerbread biscotti, but they skip the second bake so they stay soft and chewy!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Soft and chewy. The brown sugar and molasses make the perfect soft texture while the raisins add a little extra chewiness!
  • Easy to make. Instead of scooping the dough into balls like you would for most cookies, simply shape into logs, bake then cut!
  • Plenty of spice! There are several spices that provide warm flavors in each bite.
  • Versatile. The recipe lends itself well to different mix-ins whether it’s raisins, nuts or chocolate chips!
  • They taste even better the next day! Let the bars sit in an airtight container overnight and the flavors will meld together.
  • Traditional recipe. I referred to The Fannie Farmer Cookbook for her recipe originally printed in 1896. I made a few adjustments to make the texture a little softer, such as using brown sugar and melted butter.

Ingredient Notes

bowls of ingredients to hermit cookies.
  • Molasses: Use unsulphured molasses (not blackstrap, which is too bitter for desserts). I prefer the Grandma’s brand.
  • Spices: Check that your spices are fresh and not expired. They provide all the flavor!
  • Butter: Use unsalted butter that is melted and slightly cooled. Different brands of salted butter have different amounts of salt added to its best to add it separately.
  • Eggs: You’ll need one whole egg and one separated egg for this recipe. The extra yolk in the dough provides a rich flavor while the egg white is brushed on top of the dough logs for a shiny finish.
  • Raisins: This is the traditional dried fruit used in hermits. Some people like to chop them up, but it’s personal preference!

Refer to the recipe card for ingredient details and measurements.

Recipe Variations

Switch up the mix-ins. Don’t like raisins? Try dried cranberries or currants. You could also use chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts. I also think white chocolate chips would work well with the spices in this recipe!

Add some icing. Whisk together 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar with 1 tablespoon cream or milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Drizzle over cooled bars after cutting.

Press into baking pan. Instead of shaping the dough into logs, press into a 9×9 baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until firm.

Add coffee. This variation, call Concord hermits, use coffee instead of molasses. Increase brown sugar to 1 cup and replace the molasses with 1/2 cup coffee (cooled).

How to Make Hermit Cookies

photo collage demonstrating how to make hermit cookie dough in a mixing bowl.
  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients—flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.
  2. Mix together the wet ingredients. Vigorously whisk melted butter and brown sugar together until light in color. Stir in the egg, egg yolk and molasses until combined.
  3. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Stir just until combined.
  4. Cover and chill the dough for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 F.
photo collage demonstrating how to shape dough into logs and cut into cookie bars.
  1. On a baking sheet, shape dough into two logs, about 10 inches long and 2 inches wide. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer warm logs to a cutting board and use a serrated knife to cut into bars.

Expert Tips

Cut into bars while the logs are still warm. I use this same method for biscotti. It prevents the bars from crumbling! You want the logs slightly cooled, about 10 to 15 minutes. If they are completely cooled it will be more difficult to cut. Use a serrated knife to cut in a sawing motion.

Weigh your ingredients with a kitchen scale. This method provides accurate measurements, which is particularly important for the flour. If you don’t have a scale, spoon the flour into a measuring cup and level with a knife (don’t pack it down).

Chill the dough. This extra step helps create a chewy texture and prevents the dough logs from spreading too much when baked.

hermit cookie with a bite leaning on another cookie.

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

Make ahead the dough and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. Let the dough sit on the counter until soft enough to form into logs. You can also form into logs, then bake. Just remember to defrost in the refrigerator before baking.

Store hermit cookies bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week. Make sure the bars are completely cooled before storing to prevent any moisture from getting trapped.

Freeze dough for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before baking. Alternatively, you can freeze baked bars. Wrap in plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn, then place in a freezer bag or airtight container.

Recipe FAQ

Can I make cookies with this recipe?

Yes, roll generous tablespoons of dough into balls and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Why are they called hermit cookies?

They use the term “hermit” because they are meant to be kept in an airtight container for a day or two before eating. Similar to a hermit keeping to themselves! This practice allows the flavors to mingle and taste better.

When is Spicy Hermit Cookie Day?

November 15th is the national day celebrating these cookies, but you can make them all year round!

hermit cookies with raisins in a pile and dusted with confectioners' sugar.

Did you love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below and if you REALLY loved it, consider leaving a comment further down the page.

hermit cookie leaning on more bars dusted with confectionrs' sugar.

Get the Recipe: Spiced Hermit Cookies

Filled with spices and flavored with molasses, hermit cookies are an old-fashioned New England recipe that's easy to make!
5 (18 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (250 g) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • ½ cup (100 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • ½ cup (120 ml) unsulphured molasses
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup raisins, (dried cranberries or currants work too)
  • ½ cup chopped nuts, optional

Instructions 

  • Whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk and molasses. Whisk until thoroughly combined.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Stir in the raisins and nuts (if using).
  • Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350℉. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Divide dough in half and shape into two logs on the baking sheet. Each log should be about 14 inches long, 2 inches wide and 2 inches tall. Make sure the logs are at least 4 inches apart as they will spread when baked. Brush the logs with beaten egg white.
  • Bake at 350℉ for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The logs are done when the tops are brown and they spring back when gently touched. Cool on the pan for 15 minutes.
  • Transfer logs to a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to cut the logs into slices about 2 inches thick. Once completely cooled, dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired. These bars taste even better the next day!

Notes

Unsulphured molasses is best for baking. Blackstrap is too bitter for desserts.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.
Freeze dough for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before baking. Baked cookie bars may also be frozen for up to 3 months.
Serving: 1bar, Calories: 214kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 38mg, Sodium: 125mg, Potassium: 303mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 15g, Vitamin A: 209IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 40mg, Iron: 2mg

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