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Vegan Apple Walnut Hermit Cookies (No Eggs or Dairy)

TechyGran is a veteran vegan who enjoys passing along healthy, tasty recipes.

The anatomy of a vegan apple hermit cookie.

The anatomy of a vegan apple hermit cookie.

How Do You Make a Vegan Hermit Cookie?

I have long adored the multiple textures and flavours jammed into a little soft cookie called a "hermit."

Sweeteners

When my grandmother made hermits, she used molasses as part of the sweetening. I think that a little molasses might be a great addition to this cookie, and if I experiment further with this vegan (that is, no eggs or dairy or lard or other animal-based ingredients) recipe, I would try a little molasses in lieu of the maple syrup I used in this rendition.

However, the maple syrup and the coconut nectar sugar (you can substitute brown sugar if you like) make it just the sort of sweet I enjoy.

Spices

My grandmother's hermit was spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and stuffed with walnuts and dates. This particular recipe uses only cinnamon and nutmeg as the spices, and I have added chunks of apple to the walnuts and dates.

Storage: Why They're Called "Hermits"

In the tradition of old German cookie recipes, like pfeffernuss or pepper nuts, a Christmas treat recipe that my German mother-in-law let me in on (too bad I was so young and distracted—and probably uninterested— to actually learn her recipe), the hermit cookie is said to improve over time.

These cookies were apparently hidden away in tins in the monastery (or wherever they were first named) for the individuals who lived hidden away, doing their contemplative spiritual practice on their lonesomes. (For more information about human hermits, scroll down below the recipe.) This particular hermit cookie is best hidden away in a freezer if you want to keep the cookies unmolested for a couple of weeks.

Recipe Note

The instructions below are written both for the baker making cookies "from scratch" with traditional tools and, alternatively, for persons using a Kitchen Aid standing mixer.

Prep and Baking Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

20 min

14 min

34 min

2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon fine ground sea salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil, extra virgin, melted
  • 3 cups coconut sugar (or packed brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 flax eggs: 2 tablespoons flax meal, 5 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups chopped apples
  • 2 cups chopped dates

Instructions

  1. In a small dish, mix up the flax egg: Stir together flax meal and water until it is a smooth, glutenous texture and put aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
  3. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Alternatively, spray with cooking oil.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. (If using a Kitchen Aid mixer, with bowl raised, use whisk attachment on Stir to combine—about 20 to 30 seconds.)
  5. In another large mixing bowl, combine and stir together: coconut oil, flax egg, sugar, and maple syrup. (Switch to the cooking paddle in your Kitchen Aid Mixer, raise bowl, and stir the above together for about 30 seconds.)
  6. Stir in flour and mix well. (Continuing with cooking paddle in Kitchen Aid, gently stir in the flour—about 20 to 30 seconds—and then increase the speed to about 3 for about 2 minutes until well mixed.)
  7. Fold in the dates, apples, and walnut pieces. (In Kitchen Aid bowl, add dates, apples and nuts, and on "Stir" only, fold the dates, apples and walnut pieces into the batter.)
  8. Drop rounded teaspoons-ful of cookie batter onto the pans, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.
  9. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, checking around the 8-minute mark. Cool completely on a rack. They are good warm, but they are even better on Day #2 or #3 if kept in a tin or the fridge. Beyond a couple of days, freeze.

Sometimes the idea of living as a hermit appeals to all of us. No demands, no needs, no pain, no disappointments. But that is because we have been hurt, are worn out.

— John Eldridge

A hermits' residence in Spain.

A hermits' residence in Spain.

Real Hermits: Then and Now

Hermits, as regularly understood in our Western society, are Christians who secluded themselves away for a deeper, more contemplative walk with God. Early writings about hermits present them as belonging to a monastic community, or, earlier, individuals alone who wandered in the wilderness or lived very secluded, prayer-focused lives.

Individuals living an ascetic lifestyle also have a history in Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Islam. Some hermits were held up as wise men and were sought by those wishing to increase their spirituality or needing worldly advice. Some hermits were so popular that they drew crowds of seekers, which destroyed their original goal of peaceful seclusion.

Where Hermits Lived

There were several sorts of early Christian (Catholic) accommodations for hermits. Some orders of monks had clusters of small cells where the hermits lived, praying and gathering occasionally with the community for prayers and meals. Other early hermits, such as "the Desert Fathers," earned a little income to cover their needs by weaving baskets.

City gatekeepers and ferrying boat operators were often recognized hermits, sanctioned by the Church for these duties, and actually seen as being 'saints' by the 11th century.

Two Sadhus, Hindu hermits.

Two Sadhus, Hindu hermits.

Latter-Day Hermits

A few years ago, I was surprised to discover that a Benedictine monastery (also a College) near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, still had a hermitage on their grounds where a 'certified' hermit lived. One of my workmates told me about it.

Even more surprising, and quite alluring to me as an introvert, is the information that I found about modern "lay person" hermits that live in voluntary solitude from others—although some of them are married, so I guess the solitude is a relative term.

Examples of Modern Hermits

Although some of the hermits of today are religious persons (eg., former nuns), many hermits are folks who have chosen to live a minimalist lifestyle "away from the madding crowd". While the religious hermits still tend to focus their lives upon spiritual contemplation, including prayer, they also serve in many ways that are reminders of the role nuns used to play in days gone by: voluntarily performing acts of kindness and mercy to the aged and homeless, or writing, among other solitary roles.

A famous hermit is a Japanese man, 82, who lived as the only resident on an Island until health brought him back into the urban world. Here is an interesting recent article about modern-day hermits.

And then there are those hermits who were part of the "British Invasion" back in my Cold War youth . . .

Not Cookies, Not Saints, but Hermits Nonetheless

Comments

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on December 02, 2019:

Umesh,

Thank you for the feedback-- hope you enjoy the cookie recipe. One of my faves for sure!

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 01, 2019:

Interesting article. Unique recipe. Good reading. Thanks.

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on October 07, 2019:

Denise,

Thanks for dropping by-- I have also considered molasses, since that is the lovely sweetener in the original hermits recipe. Please let me know how it turns out!

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on October 06, 2019:

This looks like a fabulous recipe. I think I'll try the molasses with it. Thanks so much.

Blessings,

Denise

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on September 11, 2019:

Sara,

Thank you for dropping by and for the kind comment. I hope your daughter likes these cookies! The fruit and nuts make them a good little cookie to take with her if she needs a spurt of energy. All the best!

SARA from Islamabad on September 11, 2019:

Wonderful...I really appreciate you efforts and gives us a sweet traditional recipe.

My daughter is a desert lover. I will try this for her especially.

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on September 08, 2019:

FlourishAway,

Thank you for dropping in and commenting. I do believe that your cats would be a good choice of pets to take into a hermitage, unlike dogs who require several walks a day and engage so charmingly with strangers. So, maybe think about it.

Regarding the flax meal: I buy whole flax seed and grind it up (in a blender or coffee grinder) and store it in a jar with a lid in the fridge. I believe you will find flax seed in most health stores. Alternatively, you can substitute chia seed (also needs to be ground up). Or, easiest of all would be to buy an egg replacer powder. Or, if you are not vegan, you could substitute 2 eggs.

Cheers!

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 08, 2019:

The recipe sounds good with all the spices. I will have to see if I can get flax meal in my local store. I could live relatively out-of-the way but I’d have to have my cats.

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on September 07, 2019:

Ms. Dora

Always a pleasure to see you! I may try my next batch of cookies with a GF flour recipe as well. I read somewhere that the original flour was oat meal! That sounds good to me!

You are welcome for the flax egg recipe. It is a pretty reliable substitute for the real thing.

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on September 07, 2019:

Linda Crampton,

Thank you for your uplifting comments about the hermits! I actually think the ones in some of the supermarkets are pretty decent but there is something a little extra special in a fresh, home-made cookie, I agree!

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on September 07, 2019:

Ann Carr-- nice to see you here!

Yes, there was something very appealing about the pop music of Hermit's Hermits and all the British bands of the time-- it was pretty age-appropriate, I think: just hinting at everlasting love and all the stuff that i, for one, was certainly not ready for back then. Nice tunes!

Hermits are like gypsies and angels-- we know that they are still out there, but don't see much of them so it is fascinating to get a little current information about them, I think. Thanks for your interest and comments!

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on September 07, 2019:

carolynkay,

Thank you for dropping by, and for the kind words! Hope you enjoy the cookies!

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on September 07, 2019:

Besarian,

Thank you for the hilarious image of you scarfing down three dozen hermit cookies to the Best of Herman's Hermits-- one of my best friends in my teens had Herman on posters all over her bedroom walls but I was less taken by him. I did enjoy their music and when I listen now the words and tunes are really quite cute and innocent. It was a great time to be a young teen!

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on September 07, 2019:

Chitragada Sharan

Thank you, as always, for your kind, affirmative words. I appreciate learning about the fact that there are currently still hermits living in the Himalayas since I wrote almost only about the hermits of North America. Fascinating!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 07, 2019:

Thank you for the recipe. Mine would be gluten-free. As for the flax eggs, I'd like to try them in other recipes as well. Very helpful.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 07, 2019:

I enjoyed the references to all of the hermits in this article–the cookies, the people, and the musicians. I used to love Herman's Hermits. I discovered hermit cookies only a short while ago and like them very much. I'm sure your version would be even better than the ones I get in the supermarket. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Ann Carr from SW England on September 07, 2019:

Great recipe and fascinating background information, Cynthia.

I'm always looking for some new things to try out, especially little snacks for the grandchildren.

I loved Herman's Hermits in my younger days and still enjoy hearing any of their tracks on the radio now and then.

Thanks for the education!

Ann

carolynkaye from USA on September 07, 2019:

These look delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

Besarien from South Florida on September 06, 2019:

Your article makes me want to listen to The Best of Herman's Hermits on repeat, while I binge eat 3 dozen cookies all by myself. I don't usually do that sort of thing, but easily could!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 06, 2019:

Excellent article about the hermits and your accompanying recipe. The recipe sounds delicious with simple non dairy, no eggs and other interesting combination of ingredients, worth a try. Thanks for sharing the detailed instructions with pictures.

Many hermits do live in the Himalayas, living a life of celibacy even today, far away from the the Worldly comforts and the people. They move around in the natural surroundings, sit there in meditation, survive on the vegetation around.

Thanks for sharing this insightful and wonderful article.