Good 'n' Chewy Hermits

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Good 'n' Chewy Hermits

star rating (22) rate this recipe »
Published prior to 2008

We're always on the lookout for favorite old New England recipes, ones which have stood the test of time. Because of their high sugar and fat content, these bars have great keeping qualities; back in the days of the clipper ship, tins of hermits accompanied many a sailor as he set out for the Orient, or far-flung ports in other parts of the world.

This particular hermit recipe makes flat, chewy hermits, rather than the cakey ones preferred by some. We found this recipe is a very good one for use with our new white whole wheat flour; after all, if you're going to eat a high-fat, high-sugar cookie, why not at least add some fiber? Baked in a half-sheet (13 x 18-inch) pan, these hermits make rather thin (1/4-inch) bars; baked in a jelly-roll pan (approx. 10 x 15-inch), they're somewhat fatter; and baked in a 9 x 13-inch pan, they're like molasses brownies.

1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) shortening
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, or 100% White Whole Wheat Flour (12 ounces), or a combination
1/2 cup (6 ounces) molasses
1 cup (5 1/4 ounces) raisins, either dark or golden

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, shortening and margarine till smooth. Beat in the spices, salt and baking soda.

Slowly stir in the flour, then add the molasses and beat well again. Stir in the raisins last.

Pat hermits into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan; the mixture will be quite dry. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in a light-colored aluminum pan; 20 to 25 minutes in a darker pan. In either case, don't over-bake; bars should barely be pulling away from the edge of the pan. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.

Nutrition information per serving (1 piece, 31 g; about a 2 x 3-inch piece from the half-sheet pan, or a 1 x 3-inch piece from the 9 x 13-inch pan): 128 cal, 5 g fat, 1 g protein, 11 g complex carbohydrates, 8 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 86 mg sodium, 128 mg potassium, 1 mg iron, 30 mg calcium, 18 mg phosphorus. Note: You can double your fiber to 2 g by using white whole wheat or regular whole wheat flour in place of all-purpose flour.

This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 8, September-October 1992 issue.


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  • star rating 03/31/2015
  • Cookie4 from Spring, Texas
  • Love, love, love this recipe. I cut in half, and didn't want to use shortening but I did. Also used salted butter, more raisins, and chopped toasted walnuts. Was so impressed I'm going to try several other items like the crystallized ginger, oats, dried apricots and dried prunes or craisins. This is definitely a keeper and I think it will be very well received during the holidays when the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg are so prevalent. These go so well with a cup of to tea!
  • star rating 03/14/2015
  • Lauren from Boston, ma
  • I halfed the recipe and used only butter, but I was out of raisins. They are delicious! I wonder how they would taste with ground oats subbed for some of the flour. Mmm
  • star rating 03/09/2015
  • Carrie from Iowa
  • I enjoy reading the comments. "Not enough moisture for 3 cups flour." This is almost like a cookie dough. I also soak my raisins in some hot water to which some of the sugar has been added. I divide this recipe by half and then make 2 logs against each side of the cookie sheet and flatten it out.. [There is no dough down the center.] Bake 350* 12 minutes or so. Cool and cover with a very thin glaze Cut the size you want.
  • star rating 02/26/2015
  • Lady 'C' for cooking from Maine
  • I could not resist trying this recipe given the mixed reviews. Hermits are my husbands favorite cookie. I am an experienced baker and rarely follow recipes to a 't'. This one is no exception. I always soak my raisins in hot water for about 10 to 15 minutes before adding them to the mix. This goes a long way if you are looking for plump raisins and chewy cookies. To this recipe I also added crystalized ginger and a couple of teaspoons of dark rum. I won't ever use margarine or shortening. I used unsalted butter and palm shortening. And I used raw sugar. The result is amazing per the hermit expert of my house.
    Thank you for trying this recipe, but most of all for sharing your recipe adjustments with us. We really appreciate the approval of the hermit-tasting-guru at your house! Happy Baking - Irene@KAF
  • star rating 02/22/2015
  • Pabscrapbook from KAF Community
  • I followed recipe by weight. I use a robust molasses, so stronger flavor and less sweet. Offset using 1/2 cup chopped candied ginger, instead of raisins. Baked to 22 minutes in a 9 x 13 glass dish. These went fast!
  • 02/16/2015
  • Tina from Whitefield, Maine
  • Zero stars. I agree with Trish from Massachusetts, this recipe is terrible. I've tried it twice, once in a metal pan and the second time in a smaller glass pan, baked for the minimal time recommended and they are beyond dry. There is no way on Earth 1 cup of shortening/fat and 1/2 cup of liquid will moisten 3 cups of flour.
    Sorry to hear you had trouble with the recipe. Our baker's hotline is here to help troubleshoot, so please give us a call or drop us an email so we can assist. ~ MJ
  • star rating 02/12/2015
  • from
  • I used melted coconut oil for the shortening. Next time I will reduce the sugar because they are so sweet. I like the idea of crystalized ginger. I baked them in a 9x13 pan, so they are brownie like. Very tasty!
  • star rating 02/10/2015
  • trish from massachusetts
  • I am not a novice baker. I hate wasting good ingredients and that is what has happened. these are inedible. I followed the recipe to a T. im a big KAF fan but this recipe was a loser . very disappointing.
    We know that over-baking Hermits will result in dry recipe disappointment. We'd love to know what happened with your Hermits and welcome your call to our Baker's Hotline at 855-371-2253 so we can get to the bottom of this with you. Happy Baking - Irene@KAF
  • 02/09/2015
  • Cheryl from Kirby, Vermont
  • These are really delicious. I added some finely chopped dried apricots and used one cup of almond meal for one cup of flour....patted the dough into a 10 x 15" pan and the thickness was just perfect. Because I like nuts in everything, I will add some chopped walnuts the next time I make these...and there will definitely be a next time! Delicious with a hot cup 'o tea! King Arthur, you are my recipe Go To...never fail to delight!
  • star rating 02/08/2015
  • Nikki from Crystal Lake Illinois
  • Well I can't leave well enough alone. I see a recipe and figure a way to alter it in some way. I happen to LOVE the Sticky Ginger Squares on this site and I double the amount of crystallized ginger in that recipe so I figured adding some crystallized ginger would be good here. The addition of the ginger is great. I was going to resist using shortening but when I read the other reviews I figured I had to use it. Not sorry I did. These are chewy and moist. I will be making these again. Perfect with a cup of tea.
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