For most of the winter thus far here in Chicago temperatures have been balmy and mild. Christmas came and went with barely so much as a dusting of snow. Brown Christmas indeed. I was starting to naively believe that we’d hit spring by February. But then last week we finally got a little over two inches, enough to cover the ground with a thin layer of white. Snow’s scarcity this year meant I welcomed it with a warm reception. eI actually looked forward to pulling on my brand new winter boots (I splurged on these since they seemed like a nice compromise of function and fashion.) and watching my dog trace the bunny prints in the snow.
But mostly I welcomed the excuse to spend a long weekend (largely) indoors. I whipped up a big pot of Ellie Krieger’s Triple French Onion Soup, the Crab Salad BLT I just posted about, and these Chewy Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies.
I’ve become a bit obsessed with making a chewy banana cookie since I last made my Banana Split Cookies. Generally the moisture in fruit purees when added to a cookie makes them lean more toward a cakey, muffin-top like cookie. I wanted something that would resemble a more classic chocolate chip. I’ve been tinkering around with this recipe for a few weeks and after this weekend, finally feel like I got it right.
For this recipe I started with the most reliable recipe for chewy cookies I have – The Essential Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. The King Arthur Flour cookbooks are among my most referenced dessert books because their recipes always, always work out so I knew this recipe would provide the perfect base. I switched things up by replacing one of the eggs with mashed banana. I also swapped out the chocolate chips for dark chocolate chunks since I think they better offset banana’s sweetness. Chopped walnuts and a hint of cinnamon also went into the recipe since they are such natural companions for my favorite fruit. And the key to strong banana flavor without moisture – freeze dried bananas. They work very well in this recipe and I cannot wait to experiment with freeze dried fruit in other applications. I’m thinking buttercream or scones may be next. I love how they lead to a cookie that closely mirrored my beloved chocolate chip – dense and chewy, except with a delicious hit of banana. It’s enough to make me forget that I just declared myself cookied out after the holidays.
Freeze dried bananas are key to the chewiness of this cookie so don’t even think about replacing them with fresh. Luckily they are becoming easier and easier to find. I tried this with a couple different brands, including Just Bananas but found that Target’s store brand, Archer Farms, worked just as well and was much cheaper.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion
Yields about 4 dozen cookies
-3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
-2/3 cup dark brown sugar
-2/3 cup granulated sugar
-2 tablespoons light corn syrup
-1 tablespoon cider vinegar
-1 large egg
-1/2 cup mashed banana
-1 tablespoon vanilla extract
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
-2.5 ounces freeze dried bananas, processed to a fine powder in the food processor
-1 12-ounce bag dark chocolate mini chunks
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugars, corn syrup, and vinegar, then beat in the eggs. Beat in the vanilla, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
Mix together flour, freeze dried banana powder, chocolate chunks, and walnuts. Add to the dough, taking care not to over mix.
Drop by the tablespoonful onto the baking sheet (or alternatively, use a small cookie scoop). Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes, until they’re just set and golden on the bottom. (I like to lift them up with a spatula to check.) These cookies continue to firm up as they cool and taste best when they’ve had 10-15 minutes to cool. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on a baking rack.