Baking makes me happy. I don’t bake enough, but when I do, I realize it should be a regular occurrence. I recently broke this down for my sister, who just in these past couple of weeks has been hit by the baking bug: I love baking because of the whole process, from start to finish.
First, I love finding recipes for baked goods, more so than for cooking due to the cozy feeling I get with baking vs. the somewhat stressful feeling that is conjured when I think of cooking (timing the protein, starch, and veggies just right, dealing with raw poultry, and so on). Plus, recipes for simple baked goods – ones that you can make with what you have in your pantry or a very quick stop at a supermarket – are easy to find without compromising the tastiness of the output. I find that recipes for simple dinners tend to be, well, blah. The ones my eye is drawn to are often too complicated to put together after a busy day… if we want to eat before midnight. I’d rather just take the ingredients I have and make a basic dinner on my own, without the effort of searching for and then sticking to a recipe. I’m not bad at that – but I am not good at whipping up baked goods without some form of structure. Maybe one day, but for now, I still need to use someone else’s concoctions as a base, or we might end up with rocks instead of cookies.
Next, I love baking because the process is fun. It’s a science, so the base is there for you, but then you can add a spice here, throw in some coconut flakes there, and then, voilà, a beautiful, deliciously aromatic batter for your cookies, cake, tart, etc. that will fill your house with the scent of yumminess in about 10 minutes.
Then comes the best part! – breaking off a piece of whatever you just baked when it’s less than a minute out of the oven. There is nothing more tasty than that first bite. But even more satisfying than that is sharing what you’ve made. I love the “Mmmmm” that comes from my husband when he takes his first bite, and sometimes, when the treat makes it past our door – what can I say? we like to eat – I even get to see others enjoy the product of my baking efforts. (However, this also means that I get to see the expression on the faces of my mother and uncle when they taste the peanut-butter-olive-oil cookies I’ve just made… it’s more of a grimace.)
For this particular recipe, while I normally go right to Heidi Swanson’s 101cookbooks.com (or sometimes the most recent Martha Stewart Living), I was inspired by a new Facebook friend and fellow Edible Sarasota writer, Susan (i.e. the Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy Lady). I love her blog, and I can already tell I’m going to love her recipes. As I perused the many cookie options, I stopped at the Spicy Banana Cookies. I’ve never used banana in a cookie, so I thought I’d go for this somewhat unusual-sounding cookie, especially since we had a huge bunch of bananas waiting to be used (I think I subconsciously knew I’d be baking with them after my sister told me about the scrumptious banana crunch muffins she just made.). I used Susan’s recipe as a foundation, and – like I usually do – threw in a bit of that, took out a bit of that, either because of personal taste or because of what we have “in stock” in our pantry, like walnuts and dark chocolate chunks in place of pecans and milk chocolate chips:
So here it is, Mrs. SGCC’s Spicy Banana Cookies recipe with some tweaks:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/3 cup sugar (I use Whole Foods’ brand all natural, unrefined cane sugar. I reduced the sugar content because I prefer less-sweet desserts.)
- 1/4 cup sucanat, a sugar alternative (I use this kind. Sucanat is very sweet and gives a brown-sugar-like flavor, so if you aren’t interested in that, use regular sugar.)
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 cup mashed bananas
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (This one is amazing.)
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
- 1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chunks (Whole Foods’ brand)
Makes about 30 cookies.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. In a bowl, mix the mashed bananas and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes (the baking soda will react with the acid in the bananas which in turn will give the cookies their lift and rise). Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture. Mix together the flour, salt, and spices, sift into the butter and banana mixture, and mix until just combined. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chunks. Drop in dollops onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.
Hope you enjoy. Thanks, Susan! I’m looking forward to making many of your other creations.