Similar in taste to a gingerbread cookie, these hermit cookies are soft and chewy and made with ginger, molasses, and raisins.
Credit must be given where credit is due: Hermit Cookie bars are my husband’s specialty.
A Boston Massachusetts native, when he was growing up he would find these cookies in a local bakery and purchase them by the bag for a couple of dollars.
History of hermit cookies:
Many people ask where these hermit cookies came from. As far as he could tell, they originated in New England back in the 1800s because of the molasses in the cookies they kept well on long voyages.
Dense and moist, hermits age very well and were given to sailors in tins to last on long expeditions. Sweet, chewy, spicy (from the ginger), buttery and perfectly balanced with the right amount of salt, a chef friend of ours describes hermits as “sweet crack.”
Once the dough is prepared, you spread it in a well-floured baking sheet using well-floured hands. Why do you need to flour your hands? Because this moist and soft dough is extra sticky!
The more flour on your hands, the easier it will be to spread out on the pan. Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t reach each edge, just push it out about ½-inch thick. It doesn’t need to be a perfect rectangle.
Once baked, I liked to slice them into squares but you could also use cookie cutters to cut them into cute shapes. A fantastic edible holiday gift, these babies will stay moist and delicious for weeks – if you can avoid eating them all first! We’ve also made them for classroom parties as they are nut free.
Whip up a batch of these soft and chewy hermit bar cookies for your next cookie swap, classroom party, hostess gift or holiday open house!
What are your favorite holiday cookies? I’d love to hear from you.
Frequently asked questions:
Hermit cookies store well. Up to a week in an airtight container and they will still taste great!
These molasses cookies have a forgiveness factor. While the time states 17 minutes, they are hard to burn if you put them in for a little longer than that.
You may be able to find them in a local bakery. If you’re going to find them you may find in a local bakery in the Northeast United States.
Use a pizza cutter or knife and cut them into squares (or any shape you prefer).
No forks required.
New England Hermit Cookie Bars 🍪
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 cups brown sugar packed
- 1 cup butter 2 sticks softened – preferably unsalted
- ⅔ cup dark molasses
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups raisins
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease (I typically will use Crisco which is preferred or Pam Baking spray) and flour one standard jelly roll pan (standard cooking sheet) and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and cloves.
- With the mixer on medium, beat together brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add in molasses then egg and mix until well combined.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add in the dry ingredients until just combined.
- Use a spoon to stir in raisins.
- Scrape edges of the bowl with a plastic spatula to get the mixture together in a ball then scrape out onto a cookie sheet.
- Flour hands then carefully press dough into even layer on the floured cookie sheet.
- Bake 17-19 minutes depending on oven. Typically I'll spend half the time on the top rack and the other half on the bottom. Remove from the oven when toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cool completely before slicing into bars.