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Hermit Cookies

Cinnamon, spice, everything nice…plus fruit and nuts.

Hermit Cookies

It was (and still is) quite common in Europe for sweet baked goods to contain bits of dried fruit, nuts, and/or citrus fruit zest. Crusaders returning to Europe in the Middle Ages brought back with them descriptions of spiced, fruit-filled cookies and cakes. These have now evolved into staple items for celebrations at Yuletide. But, honestly these hermit cookies are good any time of year.

This tradition was common in many different countries and meant that households in the pre-industrial age could preserve and use the fruit they harvested long into the winter. Many desserts and dishes served at Christmas also had lots of spices, which act as natural preservatives in their own right. The tasty combination can be found in Christmas pudding, plum cake, fruitcake, mincemeat pies, and in these hermit cookies, a staple of New England baking.

Hermit Cookies

This recipe calls for raisins and dates, but you could use dried apples, plums, cranberries, or even candied citron if you wanted. The important part is that the fruit, whichever it may be, gets a chance to mix with the spices we love so much in winter: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cardamom.

After making the dough and then folding in your fruit and nuts bake these for a modest 10 minutes or so.

Hermit Cookies

Then just enjoy the harmony between the spices and the fruit that’s perfect for the holidays.

Makes 48 cookies

15m prep time

12m cook time

72 calories

Rated 2.7 out of 5
Rated by 11 reviewers

Allergens: Wheat, Gluten, Eggs, Milk, Nuts

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room, temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 425˚F. Cream together butter and brown sugar, then add eggs one at a time, mixing between each one. Add in vanilla and mix again.
  2. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cardamom. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet, mixing as you do. Fold in fruit and nuts.
  3. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto lined baking sheets. Make sure cookies are 2" apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are set. Do not over-bake. Allow to cool on cookie sheets before transferring to wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Recipe adapted from Foodess.

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