Good morning, friends. And happy Saturday.
There’s a whole lot to process right now––and something tells me you’re probably feeling similarly. It feels as though there’s this strange dissonance between the rapidly changing state of the world and the sense of sameness, of constancy and repetition within the small bubble that is our home right now–-a sameness that makes one day bleed right into the next, that makes me forget what a true seven-day week feels like, makes me forget what month it is.
School––and by that I mean online school––has resumed since I last wrote, and while I am thankful in a way for the tiny bit of structure it’s been lending my life these past two weeks, the truth of the matter is that I am only in synchronized-learning “class” for a fraction of the hours I would have been if I were on campus––that is, an hour or so most days. The remaining 15-odd hours of the day are then up for me to structure, to plan when I’m going to watch prerecorded lectures and write discussion posts and study for midterms and work on studio assignments, all the while finding a few moments to take care of myself (physically, but also mentally).
Whether we’re students shifting to online classes, adults working from home, parents juggling jobs and kids, people caring for sick family members, friends or patients, we’re all in the midst, every day, of coming to terms with and learning to adapt to this new version of normal that we’ve been so unceremoniously thrown into. And everyone has their own way of doing this, and while it can be difficult, it’s so important to be understanding of the unique set of challenges that process of shifting, of adapting, can bring with it for each person. Because we really are all in it together on this one––never has the world felt so interconnected, so small, at least to me. And I can only hope some heightened sense of compassion, of unity, comes out of that.
All I have left to say is that, in a time of such uncertainty, a time when we feel that we’re at the mercy of nature and other forces beyond our control perhaps more so than ever, it’s also important––or at least I’ve found it so––to take back that control wherever we can. For me, that means setting my alarm for 7:30 am every weekday morning and finding comfort in the routine of exercising, showering, making my bed, and sipping my coffee before my 11 am class. It means knowing that the hours between 5-8 pm are for helping prepare dinner and sitting by the fire and eating with my family. It means baking something I’ve made a thousand times before and reveling in the certainty of knowing it’ll turn out perfect.
So. These cookies.
This recipe was born out of two reasons, really. The first was a desire for some semblance of familiarity, I guess, that led me on the hunt for a copycat recipe for the after-lunch treats I pick up nearly every day from my favorite food cart at school. The second was much more practical: I had a pile of nearly too overripe (and that’s saying something) bananas on my counter, and a family of four can only have so many loaves of banana bread on their counter at a time.
To make these, I used one of the many, many recipes for two-ish ingredient banana oat cookies that exist online as a base and heavily adapted it––because I’d made those cookies before, and honestly, like those two-ingredient banana egg pancakes you’ve probably seen floating around as well, they simply weren’t all that good. Some of the changes I made were more texture or even chemistry-based, you could say: I added baking powder to lighten them a bit (I’ve always found the originals a tad too dense and gummy), ground half of the called-for oats into a powder that would behave more like the flour you’d find in a typical cookie recipe, and added sugar––brown for flavor and some chew, and granulated to aid any crisping/browning. The other additions were flavor-focused: vanilla, chocolate chips, and then a handful of roasty toasty pecans for nuttiness and extra crunch. I also played with the baking temp and time, opting for a slightly higher starting temp than originally called for and then boosting it towards the end to encourage more browning around the edges; I even stuck mine under the broiler for a few minutes.
The result is a cookie that’s as close to the original food cart favorites as I think I’m ever going to get. They’re crisp on the outside, taste kind of like banana bread, and feel healthy but not strictly like health food, if you know what I mean. If you have bananas sitting on your counter, you probably also have all of the other ingredients (no coconut oil? Any neutral oil should do the trick). And if you, like me (and the rest of the damn world, it seems), have already made your fair share of banana bread this quarantine, these might be a welcome change of pace.
Oh! And they’re vegan. And gluten-free, just in time for Passover no less.
Banana Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Toasted Pecans
Makes 10-12 cookies
- 2 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 cup rolled oats, blended into a powder
- 1 cup (whole) rolled oats
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark is fine––whatever you have on hand)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans (optional)
- Handful of chocolate chips (optional)
- Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together well. Scoop onto your prepared pan (I used a heaping medium cookie scoop and got 11 cookies), flattening each cookie just slightly.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, then turn the oven to 425 and bake another 2-3 minutes (keep an eye on them), until starting to brown. If you want them more browned and crispier (as I always do), finish by putting them under the broiler for a few minutes, until the edges are to your liking. Cool on a wire rack.
Note: These cookies really are best the day you make them-–they tend to get rather soggy when stored. I recommend warming any extras in the oven to re-crisp.
Stay safe, stay well, and happy nibbling.