Recipe: Banana Chip Cookies with Crystallized Ginger

I love to be in the kitchen. The process of throwing ingredients together to develop and create something delicious gives me a sense of both calm and pride. Although cooking is my hobby, baking is where my passion lies. The fact that I have such a strong love for sweets probably plays a key role in this. Despite my love for the art, I find I only bake recreationally for a few specific reasons:

1.       I have perishable items in my pantry/fridge/cupboard that need to be used. Fruit and milk are usually the main culprits.
2.       I have the oven on because I’m baking something else and feel it would be a waste not to use said oven if it’s already preheated.
3.       I’m meeting someone new or going to someone’s house. Sometimes both happen at the same time!
4.       I’m watching a TV show, movie or sporting event and I can’t handle the stress. I have been known to whip up many a batch of cookies during playoff games or horror movies.
5.       I’m too lazy to go to the store to buy cookies because that means changing out of my pyjamas.

Last night was a combination of a few of those reasons, but mainly it was because I had the oven on already and there were some bananas that were begging to be baked into a tasty bite-sized treat. The only problem was that I only had one lone egg in my fridge, a very small amount of flour and an even smaller amount of butter. I started scouring the numerous food blogs I have bookmarked and came across a recipe that claimed to be a cross between banana bread and chocolate chip cookies, but with candied ginger added.

Feeling particularly adventurous (and having a large container of crystallized ginger that I wasn’t quite sure how to use up before it started to harden), I dived into the recipe realizing that I was going to have to tweak it significantly: first off, I had two sad-looking bananas and wanted to use them both up even though the recipe only called for one. So in both bananas went. Second, the recipe called for two lightly beaten egg yolks. There were two problems with this: 1) I only had one egg, and 2) I was feeling too lazy to actually beat the egg before I added it to the recipe. Yes, I realize that’s pretty lazy, but hey, it was 10 at night and I saved myself from using an extra bowl that I’d have to wash later! So in went the whole egg. The original recipe also called for a half cup of white sugar and a half cup of brown sugar, but I decided that by doubling the bananas I had enough sweetness, so I only added the half cup of brown sugar. Finally, I had about a cup of carob chips that I wanted to use because they are a healthy alternative to chocolate chips and these were somewhat healthy cookies. The fact that the bag was already open and I didn’t want to open a new bag of chocolate chips to only half use may have also been a small factor in my choice to use carob; it just sounds better when I say I wanted to be healthier. 

Meanwhile, back at the mixing bowl, I got to thinking that I didn’t particularly feel like cookies. So I purposely over-mixed the batter a bit to make the end result denser. I wanted them to come out of the oven more scone-like so you could add a bit of butter for some extra richness. After mixing it all together, I used my trusty cookie scoop (a fabulous investment if you want uniform cookies) and made exactly three dozen cookies of the exact same size. I was impressed – usually the end few are too small or there are extra bits here and there from scraping the bowl, but no, this made exactly 36 tablespoon-sized cookies.
The cookies from the original recipe spread while they baked into perfectly round, flat cookies. Mine kept their mountainous shape from when I dropped them onto the sheet and did not spread at all, which was exactly what I wanted. The first batch I made I left in for 14 minutes, which was the minimum time the recipe called for, but I found that the bottoms burnt. I adjusted to 12 minutes for the second batch and was happy with the golden colour that turned out. The cookies themselves were moist and soft on the inside with a bit of chewiness to the edges. Even though I had cut the original amount the recipe called for by half a cup, I found were too many chips and would probably cut it down to half a cup next time. The ginger added an interesting touch to the banana, but was not as overpowering as I thought it would be. I am glad I added the extra banana to give it a more natural sweetness and a stronger banana taste.
My tasting panel consisted of the roomie, the boyfriend and a number of co-workers, and the recipe was well received by all. According to the recipe calculator on Spark People, each cookie was about 100 calories and had four grams of fat – much better for you than a typical chocolate chip cookie which is around 140 calories with seven grams of fat. I really liked this recipe and think that the flavour combination of banana, chocolate and ginger work perfectly together. I would absolutely make these again, but would perhaps make them bigger and pass them off as scones. Paired with a hot cup of tea and warmed with some butter, these would make a great afternoon snack.   

Loosely adapted from Piece of Cake, these are Neurotic Banana Chip Cookies with Crystallized Ginger

2¼ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon, ground
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 egg, large
1 tsp vanilla
2 bananas, mashed
1 cup carob chips
½ cup crystallized ginger, minced

1.       Preheat oven to 375°F with oven rack set to the centre position.
2.       Mix flour, baking soda and salt in one bowl and set aside.
3.        In a separate bowl, mix sugar, melted butter, egg and vanilla until well blended.
4.       Stir in the mashed banana.
5.       Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until mostly mixed then fold in the chips and ginger.
6.       Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheets, 12 per sheet.
7.       Bake one sheet at a time for 12–16 minutes, or until brown. Do not overbake.
8.       Cool completely before storing in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes 36 cookies.


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