Hermit Cookies – Super Healthy Kids

Hermit Cookies are the perfect stay-at-home baking project! These old-fashioned favorites are filled with dates, walnuts, and whole grains. And they’re lower in sugar, so you can even have one for breakfast!

sideways view of hermit cookies stacked on a plate

A few weeks ago in the grocery checkout line, I noticed a woman in front of me buying a bakery item called “Hermit Cookies.” I was immediately charmed by the name, but I had no idea what they were!

What Are Hermit Cookies?

When I got home I looked them these cookies, and learned they’re an OLD recipe, made in American in the 1800s and famous for staying fresh for a long time.

I had to try making a batch of my own, Super Healthy Kids style!

And they were SO yummy: soft, nutty, studded with chewy dates, and spiced with cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. They taste like fresh gingerbread, like coziness and hunkering down.

My kids loved them too… and we all got a big kick out of the fun name. I’m calling these cookies the official cookies of social distancing!

hermit cookies with dates and nuts poking out

Hermit Cookies Made Healthy

I made some changes to the classic recipe for Hermit Cookies so that I could boost the nutrition of these treats for my family. These cookies are made with:

  • 100% whole wheat flour
  • Half the sugar of typical cookies
  • Heart-healthy walnuts and naturally-sweet date pieces

Since these cookies are not insanely sweet, I’ve been serving them with an afternoon snack and I even think they would work well as a breakfast cookie.

A Note About Coffee

Classic Hermit Cookies have coffee in the batter, and I wanted to keep this unique element of the recipe in our version. There’s only 1/4 cup of coffee in the entire batch, so I’m not personally worried about caffeine. My kids and I can’t actually detect any coffee flavor in the cookies at all!

If you want to avoid caffeine, decaf works just as well. And if you’d rather avoid the coffee question altogether, you can sub in almond milk!

Storing Hermit Cookies

Even though the original stories about Hermit Cookies say they last a long time, I still opted to put a few of mine in the freezer (though it was hard to part with them!)

They froze (and then defrosted) beautifully! I let them come back to room temperature on the counter for about 30 minutes before enjoying.

plate of hermit cookies up close
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee (can use decaf or substitute almond milk)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a light-colored baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

  • Stir dates and nuts into flour mixture.

  • In a separate bowl, whisk together melted butter with brown sugar, egg, and cooled coffee.

  • Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until well-combined. Refrigerate dough for 10-20 minutes.

  • Once dough is slightly chilled (it only needs to be chilled enough to handle) roll it into balls about the size of a tablespoon, or slightly larger. Place twelve balls on the baking sheet two inches apart, and use your fingers to flatten them slightly.

  • Bake 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through and just starting to brown on top.

  • Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and continue rolling balls until all the dough is used up.

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