1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (205 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmbeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (130 grams) dark or golden raisins
1 cup (130 grams) dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 cup (100 grams) walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (55 grams) confectioners sugar (icing or powdered sugar), sifted
2 - 3 tablespoons milk or light cream
Hermit Cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Lightly butter or line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
In a separate bowl sift or whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add this mixture to the batter and beat until combined. Fold in the raisins, chopped dates, and chopped walnuts.
To form each cookie, drop about one tablespoonful of the batter onto your baking sheet, spacing the cookies about two inches (5 cm) apart. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cookies are firm around the edges but still a little soft in the center. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before frosting.
Glaze: In a small bowl stir together the sugar and enough milk (cream) to make a smooth, thick, yet pourable glaze. Once the cookies are completely cool, use a small spoon to drizzle several thin lines of the glaze over each cookie. Let the cookies sit at room temperature until the glaze has completely dried.
The cookies can be stored at room temperature for about five days, or they can be frozen.
Makes about 36 cookies.
It's so easy to like Hermit Cookies, with their soft and chewy texture, their spicy flavor, and how they're loaded with raisins, dates, and nuts. The general consensus is that Hermit Cookies were so named because of how long they can be stored. This old fashioned 19th century cookie must have quite a few fans because on the American Food Holidays' calendar November 15th is National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day.
Hermit Cookies are a good cookie to tuck into lunch boxes or to just snack on during the day. They are popular in both Canada and the U.S. with the most notable difference between the two countries being that Canadian recipes usually include dates. My Canadian heritage is showing here, as my favorite recipe is adapted from Canadian Marion Kane's The Best of Food and it does contain dates. The batter is quick to prepare and the cookies are formed by simply dropping tablespoonfuls of the batter onto your baking sheet. These cookies are also very good when drizzled with a powdered sugar glaze that is made from a simple mixture of confectioners sugar (also known as icing or powdered sugar) and milk.
Dates are the fruit of the palm tree. They have a high sugar content and are also a good source of protein plus Vitamins A & B. For this recipe we are using dried pitted dates and I like to buy the ones that are packed in 10 ounce (283 gram) plastic tubs. You can usually find them in the produce section of your grocery store.