I’ve talked many times about how my family would eat Sunday dinners at my grandma’s each and every week. She shared a duplex with her youngest sister, and one of my great aunt’s claims to fame were the poor man’s cookies that she’d make on a fairly regular basis. The cakey bar cookies were heavily spiced, had raisins and walnuts in them, and that had a boiled icing poured over top. They were one of my very favorite treats when we’d visit my grandma’s and these hermit cookies remind me so much of them! There are no nuts, but the flavor is so similar that I’m taken back to those Sunday afternoons with each and every bite.
These hermit cookies actually have raisins and crystallized ginger processed into a paste and incorporated into the batter. I love it, as you get the flavor of raisins with each and every bite without having them dispersed throughout the entire cookie.
I have a feeling that these would be a perfect holiday cookie, as they’re full of spice and molasses, but if I learned anything from the way my grandma fed her family and friends, it’s that there’s no reason to save the good stuff for a special occasion. The most mundane of days spent with loved ones is reason enough to make and eat something fabulous.
Process the raisins and ginger in a food processor until the mixture sticks together, about 10 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until nutty brown in color, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon and allspice, cook for an additional 15 seconds, then remove from the heat. Stir the butter mixture into the raisin mixture until well combined; allow to cool completely.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
Whisk the brown sugar, molasses and eggs into the raisin mixture until thoroughly combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture (the dough will be very sticky). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1½ hours, or up to 24 hours.
When ready to bake, adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Divide the dough into quarters. Working with one piece of dough at a time, transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll into a 10-inch log. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and square off the sides. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, placing two logs on each baking sheet.
Bake until only a shallow indentation remains on the edges when touched, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking. Allow to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer the parchment to wire racks to cool completely.
In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice and powdered sugar until smooth. Drizzle the glaze onto the cooled log and let sit until the glaze hardens, about 15 minutes. Cut logs into 2-inch bars. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.