Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rise and Shine...and Bake

If your home is like mine and doesn't have central AC, you know that the best time to attempt any baking during the summer is in the early morning, after a cool night. This morning was an ideal occasion: I had four very ripe bananas hanging on the banana tree, and the rollicking storms that passed through the Chicago area last night cooled things off quite nicely after yesterday afternoon's humid 88 degrees. What's more, I had a reason to bake (though I don't always need a reason): later today and this week I'll be visiting a good friend who recently had a baby, as well as friends and family who are on the verge of out-of-state moves. And one of the ways I say, "I love you" is "Here, I baked you something."

Given the overripe bananas, this morning's baking session produced Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies (with Fiber Boost). And I must say, they're delicious! This recipe makes a big batch (about 5 dozen), perfect for sharing (and for still having a few left for yourself and your husband who gets disappointed when you bake and then give it all away).

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies
(with Fiber Boost)

1 1/2 cups shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 medium; the riper the better)
3 1/2 cups quick oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 12-oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chunks (or chips)

1. In large bowl, combine oats, flours, flax, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Set aside.
2. In another large bowl, cream together shortening and sugar on low speed. Add eggs and vanilla and mix on medium speed until smooth. Add banana and mix on low speed until just incorporated.
3. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture in thirds, mixing each time on low and scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.
4. Stir in the chocolate chunks. Let the dough chill in the fridge while you preheat the oven to 350.
5. Drop dough by heaping spoonfuls* onto ungreased cookie sheet** leaving at least an inch between cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and just set in the middle. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. (Although I recommend sampling one while the chocolate is still ooey-gooey warm!)

Note: The "fiber boost" comes from the whole wheat flour and flax seed meal (which is also a "one-two good-for-you" punch to your cholesterol when paired with the oatmeal). If you'd rather not boost the fiber, or don't have those ingredients, just omit them and use 3 cups AP flour instead.

*Beloved Kitchen Gadget plug #1: If you make drop cookies with any regularity, you should really invest in a cookie scoop. These things are great. Mine are by Oxo and I have two different sizes: small (2 tsp) and medium (1 1/2 tb). They make it so easy to produce cookies that are consistent in size and shape, and eliminate the need for multiple spoons or the employment of fingers for scraping the dough onto the sheet.

**Beloved Kitchen Gadget plug #2: I bake just about everything on a Silpat now. I love the perfectly browned, no-stick results and easy clean-up. To the people who purchased these for me off my bridal registry: THANK YOU!

No comments: