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New England Hermit Cookie Bars

    The best hermit cookies recipe you’ll find that is 100% authentic! Similar in taste to a gingerbread cookie, these hermit cookies are soft and chewy and made with ginger, molasses, and raisins.

    new england hermit cookie bars on a plate

    As a healthy food blogger, I don’t often share baking recipes. I’m more of a roasted veggie or orange smoothie kinda girl. So, credit must be given where credit is due: Hermit Cookie bars are my husband’s specialty.

    Easy Hermit Cookie Recipe

    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.

    Mixing Hermit Cookies
    preparing hermit cookies by pouring in molasses
    Adding molasses to the batch

    hermit cookie History:

    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. I’ve read in other places that they became popular in the 1930’s and 50’s.

    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.”

    Why Hermits?

    When you use the phrase ‘hermit cookies’ outside of New England people tend to not know what you’re talking about but at the end of the day they are just a cookie. I would consider hermits to be a type of baked good that offers a longer shelf life over traditional cookie.

    Taste

    Hermits taste like a robust gingerbread cookie where you can actually taste and smell the spices.

    Liz Making Hermits

    How to make:

    I always start by using some Crisco and greasing the pan. Once greased I’ll take some flour to put a slight coating to the bottom of it.

    The hardest part of this recipe is getting all of the ingredients out. I’ll typically use two bowls. Once for all the dry ingredients and the other for all the wet ones.

    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!

    floured hands on raw hermit cookie dough


    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 1/2-inch thick. It doesn’t need to be a perfect rectangle.

    Liz Excited for Hermits

    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.

    Liz Grabbing a Hermit Cookie

    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!

    Liz and the Hermit Cookies

    What are your favorite holiday cookies? I’d love to hear from you.

    Frequently asked questions:

    How to store hermit cookies?

    Hermit cookies store well. Up to a week in an airtight container and they will still taste great!

    Can you overcook hermit cookies?

    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.

    Can hermit cookies be bought in a bakery?

    bag of hermits from bakery

    Your best bet is at a local bakery in the Northeast United States. On a recent trip to Peabody Massachusetts I found them sitting on a rack in a bag.

    What’s the easiest way to cut cookies?

    Use a pizza cutter or knife and cut them into squares (or any shape you prefer).

    Other adds to hermit batter

    Raisins are popular but you could use other fruits like chopped up dried figs, currants and other dried fruits or nuts too.

    No forks required.

    new england hermit cookie bars on a plate

    New England Hermit Cookie Bars

    4.52 stars average
    The best hermit cookies recipe you'll find that is 100% authentic! Similar in taste to a gingerbread cookie, these hermit cookies are soft and chewy.
    PREP: 20 mins
    COOK: 17 mins
    TOTAL: 37 mins
    Save
    Servings: 64

    Ingredients
     

    • 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 (softened – preferably unsalted)
    • cup dark molasses
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 cups raisins

    Instructions
     

    • 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.
      floured pan
    • In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and cloves.
      dry ingredients in a bowl
    • 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.
      Pouring Molasses
    • 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.
      raw hermit cookie dough
    • Flour hands then carefully press dough into even layer on the floured cookie sheet.
      Pushing Down Hermit Cookie Dough
    • 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.

    Recipe Video

    Notes

    These cookies age well and can handle air exposure. They are very moist and last several days (if they last that long!)
    Slicing Tip: A pizza slicer is a great way to ensure even slicing.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 105kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 1gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 80mg
    SHOW AND TELL ON INSTAGRAM!Show me your creation and rate it below! Mention @thelemonbowl or tag #thelemonbowl! I would LOVE to see!
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    Liz DellaCroce

    Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been sharing delicious recipes that just so happen to be healthy. By using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality, Liz has built a growing audience of loyal readers who crave good food for their families. Click Here To Subscribe to my newsletter:

    111 Comments

    1. Hermit cookies were always a huge favorite in and around my childhood city of Portland, Maine. This recipe is not only easy, it is the best I’ve come across to replicate that ole time taste!
      Thank-you!

      1. I first made what I remembered as Hermit Cookies that I found the recipe on an Egg Carton when I was in High School In NH. No longer have the recipe question is does this batter work fine as scoops from a spoon drop for round appearance? This recipe sounds familiar with the molasses and spices!

    2. Dear girl thank you so much for this recipe. My mother loved Hermits they are big in the New England area where I live. I baked these for a bake sale at work and people were scooping up five and six of them at a time !!!!!

    3. HERMITS – CHEWY MOLASSES COOKIE BARS
      Wow! Lovely recipe. Cooking time was bang on for 19 minutes with a gas oven. I cut them up into squares and left them on the counter overnight. Chewy and delicious! I added walnuts.

      They just may become a Canadian Thank`s Giving tradition in my home.

      .jb

    4. Have you made these as a cookie? Making to give away and a cookie would be easier to package. When I made these this summer it took much longer to bake than called for, the insides were still very gooey at 17 min. so want to do cookies to be on the safe side. Otherwise they were AWESOME, I loved them. Just not sure how long to bake for. thanks!

    5. As a child I loved Nelson’s Bakery’s hermits in Maplewood,(Malden) MA and have not found a comparable recipe until now. Thank you for renewing wonderful memories!

      1. carolyn thurston larkin

        I grew up in Maplewood Square and loved Nelson’s Bakery. I have been searching for the recipe for those wonderful coffee rolls that were frosted and sprinkled with walnuts. If you know of that recipe could you please respond back to me. I have so many fond memories of Maplewood Square and growing up there.

        1. Hi Carolyh, I would love to share my Swedish nut roll recipe with you. Could be communicate by email? Don’t know how to do this, but hope we can figure it. Out!

    6. I made these today and they came out wonderfully. I had to cook mine for about 25 minutes. Thanks for a great recipe, it’s nice to see something different out in the blog world.

    7. My mom’s favorite cookie is molasses, she hasn’t been able to make them for years because of her arthritis. I’m going to surprise her with these, but I’m trying to remember what she put in her cookies – I think dried fruit? Like cherries & such? Not sure about the raisins …. but I’m excited to try these!

    8. Was just about to ask what size/type of pan, then sifted through comments and found the answer “a standard size jelly roll pan.” I think it would be really helpful if this was included in the directions of the recipe. I have the dough ready and can’t wait to try these, it’s already delicious!

    9. When I make my hermit bars, I use equal amounts of raisins, dates and walnuts. I chop them in the food processor with some of the flour.

    10. Mmmmmm, these bars sound delicious! I do have one question before trying the recipe: What size cookie sheet do you use? 15 x 10? 13 x 18? If you are willing/able to tell me, I would be very appreciative.

      Hope you are having a wonderful holiday season! :)

    11. I made these today, but used chocolate chips instead of raisins because I’m not a fan. They smelled amazing while baking and tasted even better!

    12. If these treats could go on long voyages with sailors, I’m guessing they might survive being mailed across country and overseas? ;) They sound like just the right treat for some young relatives facing college finals and for some young folks I know who are in the military and away from home for the holidays this year.

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