Most versions of this old-fashioned cookie bake up rock-hard and overly spiced. Our recipe revives this New England specialty to what it should be: soft and chewy, with a perfect balance of sugar and spice.
Why This Recipe Works
Most recipes for Hermit Cookies we tested involved creaming the butter, but this produced dry, biscuitlike cookies. Melting the butter delivered a chewier, moister cookie. We took melting one step further by cooking the butter in a saucepan until light brown and fragrant, which added a nutty flavor to the hermits.
Tasters settled on the simple, yet potent, combination of cinnamon, allspice, and ginger. Adding these spices to the browned butter bloomed their natural flavor, which allowed us to use less. This avoided a dusty texture from too much ground spice. We steeped the raisins in melted butter to soften them, and pureed them with crystallized ginger into a rough paste. This helped distribute raisin flavor into every bite, while the pureed ginger lent pungent sweetness and chew.
When it came to shaping them, we found that hermits baked in logs and then sliced were much chewier and moister.