My grandmother on my dad’s side was always known to all of us as “Bessie.” Her real name was Agnes, but I don’t think I knew that until her funeral. She had a feisty streak underneath a calm exterior; she was known to swing a cast-iron skillet at my dad if he teased her too much (he nearly always deserved it). Her kitchen had a red floor. Her hands smelled like Oil of Olay lotion. She made the only coleslaw I have ever liked. And her pantry always, always contained that blessed cookie, the hermit.

They’re called “hermits” because they stow away well. They apparently were a popular cookie for sailors because they keep so well. Here’s the recipe I’m using today:


From Good Housekeeping

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup dark molasses
1 large egg
1 cup dark raisins
1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 large cookie sheets.
  2. On waxed paper, combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and cloves.
  3. In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses until well combined. Beat in egg. With mixer at low speed, beat in flour mixture just until blended, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. With spoon, stir in raisins and pecans if using, just until combined.
  4. Divide dough into quarters. With lightly floured hands, shape each quarter into 12″ by 1 1/2″ log. On each prepared cookie sheet, place 2 logs, leaving about 3 inches in between. Bake logs on 2 oven racks 13 to 15 minutes or until logs flatten and edges are firm, rotating cookie sheets between upper and lower racks halfway through baking. Cool logs 15 minutes on cookie sheets on wire racks.
  5. Transfer logs to cutting board. Slice each log crosswise into 8 cookies. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

You will get very messy making these. You will be sure that they’re not turning out right. But they will be fine, and you will enjoy a soft, spicy taste of autumn goodness.

Thanks, Bessie, for introducing me to the hermit.

6 Responses to “Hermits”

  1. Beth

    Mmmmm, I looove hermits, Kelly, but haven’t made them in ages. Might have to bake some today, myself. They’re probably really good for sending off in care packages – something I’m doing lots of these days 🙂


  2. cascadingwaters

    Hey! It must be genetic or autumn or something, because guess what I was going to make next? Bessie’s spice cookies!(remember those?)And her stuffing was the only homemade stuffing I’ve ever had that beat Stove Top, hands down. Must have been the sausage.


  3. Anonymous

    she would make her coleslaw before we all got up so we wouldn’t see how many dishes she used, remember?gramma OC


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