July 03, 2021


This recipe caught my eye because of a little story that was submitted with it. I have no idea how accurate it is--I was going to fact check, but then I realized I don't really want to know! I like that this was passed along in the heritage recipe book, and I like to believe that it's true. It's likely the story that was told with the recipe as it was handed down.

This recipe was submitted to the Rockwood, Michigan Area Historical Society by Barbara Metzger, who received it from her mother, Loretta Bondy. Loretta was born in 1907 and passed away in 1968. In Rockwood (the tiny town I grew up in) everybody knew everybody. And as I've been doing this heritage recipe collection, I've learned that pretty much everybody was related in some way to everybody, as well, haha. I know the names Bondy and Metzger very well.

Unfortunately, I don't know anything about Loretta, considering she passed away long before I was born. However, this is what was written with her recipe for hermit cookies:

Hermit cookies originated in Cape Cod in the days of clipper ships, when spices were imported from the Indies. Women would bake them, packed with fruits and nuts for the ships' crews, and they were packed away in canisters and sea chests.

I almost didn't make these because I'm not a big fan of raisins (and there is a relatively large amount of raisins in them). However, I liked the story behind them and I figured it wouldn't hurt to try them.

I'm so glad that I did--they are AMAZING. Jerry and both kids loved these as well--and when all four of us like a recipe, you can be reassured that it's great. You don't even notice that the raisins are in there, really; the recipe calls for "halved raisins", so I cut them up. I think that helped to get rid of the texture I don't like but the flavor is perfect. So, even if you don't like raisins, give these a try--you might be very surprised! (Jerry and the kids don't like raisins, either, but they said the same as me--you don't really notice them in the cookies.)

As usual, I will write out the recipe exactly as it was written in the heritage book, and I made it without any modifications or substitutions. See my notes after the recipe for any clarifications. The printer-friendly version is rewritten with my notes included.

Here is the printer-friendly version!

Hermit Cookies

1/2 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/4 c. cold coffee
1-3/4 c. sifted flour
1/2 tsp. each: soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon
1-1/4 c. halved raisins
1/2 c. broken nuts

Mix thoroughly the shortening, sugar and egg. Stir in coffee. Sift together flour, soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir in raisins and nuts. Chill dough. Preheat oven to 400 F. Drop dough by teaspoonful on greased cookie sheet, 2-inches apart. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or just until a light touch with finger leaves almost no imprint. Makes 3 dozen.

My Notes:

I thought the cold coffee was unique! I drink cold coffee every day, so it was convenient to reserve 1/4 cup. (I couldn't taste it in the cookies, but I imagine it added a little something.)

I already said that I don't like raisins, but I ALSO am not a fan of nutmeg. I was so very tempted to leave it out (no one would know!) but I just couldn't do that. I wanted to try the recipe exactly as written. I loved these cookies! I really don't think they would be as good without the nutmeg.

For the nuts, I used pecans (I always have them on hand in the freezer for my dad's pecan pies!).

Cutting 1-1/4 cups of raisins in half would have taken forever, so I just piled them on a cutting board and ran my knife through them a couple of times (along with the pecans).

I didn't run into any problems when preparing the dough. I let it chill for about 90 minutes before scooping the dough onto the cookie sheets. This was the texture before adding the nuts and raisins:

And then scooped onto a cookie sheet:

I used a small spring-loaded scoop and to my shock, I got 42 cookies out of the batch. (I say "shock" because whenever I make cookies and the recipe says how many it makes, you might as well cut that number into fourths and that's how many I get out of it. I wanted to see if I could get three dozen from this recipe, as specified, so I used a small scoop. The cookies are very small, but that's probably because I'm used to making cookies so much bigger.

I used dark non-stick cookie sheets and it took about 10 minutes to bake perfectly. I did the "finger test" mentioned in the recipe--"a light touch of a finger leaves almost no imprint". After 8 minutes, they were still too soft. Two minutes later, they were perfect. And one unfortunate batch stayed in 12 minutes, which made the bottoms really dark.

Even though there is no ginger in these, my family said they taste like ginger snaps. The spices taste is the same. And the texture is the perfect combination of soft and chewy, light but dense (not sure how that worked out, but it somehow did). I will definitely make these in the fall--they taste like I imagine how fall would taste, haha.


  1. These sound delicious! I can’t wait to try them.

  2. Aww these remind me of my grandma. She loved these cookies and they have them in bakery section of my local grocery store (I'm in MA so maybe there is some truth to the history!)


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