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Homemade Hermit Cookies: Rich With Coffee and Spice

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Kimbesa has been baking at home for more than 50 years, and loves good vintage cookies!

Hermit cookies are an old-fashioned favorite.

Hermit cookies are an old-fashioned favorite.

The warm spices of baking hermit cookies will make your kitchen smell wonderful, and you'll be looking forward to the taste even before you eat them! Hermits are an old-fashioned cookie, a variation of a basic coffee and spice recipe, that has cinnamon and nutmeg to set off the other flavors.

You can use raisins or sultanas, or make them like mine, which use chopped dates and walnuts. The dates really give them a rich, sweet taste.

(You can buy them all year round in the baking section of most grocery stores, in the same area where they sell dried fruits. For convenience, look for pitted dates.

This is a wonderful cookie to have as an afternoon snack with a hot cup of tea or coffee, or a cold glass of milk. Like any good homemade cookie, it will be hard to eat just one!

Hermits cookies

Hermits cookies

A whole teaspoon of nutmeg...that's not a typo. These are spicy and good with a hot drink, like coffee, tea, or any other drink that you enjoy with your cookies.

I'm not a cookie dunker myself, but if you are, try pairing these with cold milk.

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

30 min

1 hour 30 min

2 hours

About 6 dozen cookies


  • 1/2 cup soft butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cold coffee
  • 3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped dates
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet, or use cooking spray made for baking.
  2. Cream butter, shortening and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Measure the cold coffee, which will be added later.
  3. Separately, mix flour, soda, salt and spices. Alternately mix the flour and coffee into the creamed mixture, until the batter is smooth. Fold in the dates (or raisins) and nuts if you're adding them.
  4. Bake about 10 minutes, until cookies are just set. Be careful not to bake too long. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on a rack or towels.
  5. This recipe makes about six dozen cookies, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. They keep well in a tightly sealed container.
Nutmeg is a key ingredient in these cookies, giving them a nutty, spicy kick.

Nutmeg is a key ingredient in these cookies, giving them a nutty, spicy kick.

What Is Nutmeg?

This recipe calls for an entire teaspoon of nutmeg. Most cooks will use the grated nutmeg that is available in almost any grocery store.

For flavor that goes to the next level, you might want to try grating your own, from a whole nutmeg.

If you've seen a whole nutmeg, it looks like a nut, in size and shape.

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It is the seed of a tropical tree, and is not as easy to find as the grated version.

For more of the dusky, gently spicy flavor, seek out whole nutmegs and use a fine grater or microplane to do the honors right before you add it to your cooking.

The warmth of nutmeg also flavors mulled cider, eggnog and pumpkin pie - in addition to hermit cookies.

It complements the coffee in this recipe, and make your cookies an even better hit!

Dates are a bit old-fashioned, but their rich flavor and satisfying sweetness are timeless!

Dates are a bit old-fashioned, but their rich flavor and satisfying sweetness are timeless!

What Are Dates?

Dates are the semi-dry fruit of the date palm tree. They are very sweet and the flavor reminds me of caramels, or maple syrup. They go very well with the brown sugar, spices and coffee in this cookie.

The date palm grows in the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East. Humans have been eating dates for thousands of years.

The ones we get in North America may come in a small box, on in a plastic tub when the store packs them from a bulk container. They will keep a long time in your cupboard.

Dates are sold whole, pitted or chopped. I usually get pitted dates and chop them myself, though it is a sticky job. The skins are somewhat tough, so I use my sharp chef’s knife and a cutting board.

Look for dates in the produce section of your favorite grocery, or the baking aisle, wherever they stock the dried fruit.

If you have the chance to try some Medjool dates, treat yourself! You can find dates sold by the variety in specialty or Middle Eastern grocery stores.

Once you try dates, you may become a fan and decide to try them on your yogurt, oatmeal or on a cheese tray, too!

Hermits are based on a vintage cookie recipe.

Hermits are based on a vintage cookie recipe.

Betty Crocker's Classic Cookbook: One of Mom's Favorites

If you're of a certain age group, you'll remember the original version of this Betty Crocker classic cookbook. The reissued one is just as popular, in the ring binder version or paperback.

You may even remember cookies your mother made from recipes in this book, like the cinnamon spice cookies these hermits are based on.

My mother used to make the hermits once in a while, especially at the holidays. Some lucky recipients got cookie boxes as their gifts. Hermits were one of the tasty cookie varieties for them to enjoy.

She used chopped, pitted dates in her hermits. You can also use raisins or sultanas. Nuts (walnuts or pecans) are optional.

Your favorite cookie plate makes a snack extra special. I've got several "cookie" plates. The one in this photo: the Mardi Gras pattern by Noritake, vintage 1970s.

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