Everyday Cookies

Okay, so we all know that besides a whole lot of tomfoolery, this blog runs primarily on sweet cream butter and granulated sugar. I love that. Full fat dairy and sugar turn me on. But every once in a while, even I get all California with myself and feel the need to reduce a little, for lack of a better word. Up the water and vegetable intake, cut back on the white sugar and flour, run an extra mile and work another date with Jillian into the week. And put the kibosh on the produce that ends up uneaten, like the constant lone banana that is always taunting me from the counter top, destined for the compost. Sidenote: How is there always one poor banana left speckling away in the fruit basket? How?

The funny thing is, after a couple days of this virtuous living business, the sweet tooth takes a back seat, or at the very least, all that sugar seems a little less appealing. No, guys, I’m serious. Why are you all laughing at me?! Psshh.

Anyway. Despite this this new leaf I’ll be turning over for the next 48 hours or so until I can’t take it anymore, I. Must. Bake. It’s in my blood. If I go too many days without whisking or folding, I get the shakes. Plus, Little C is a whopping 19 months old now, and cookies are akin to currency around here. Enter this gem of a recipe.

If ever there were an everyday cookie, this would be it. I mean, granted, in my world, pretty much every cookie can be everyday cookie, but this one is special. They come together in a flash, nearly a one-bowl deal with a wooden spoon, full of the kind of totally wholesome ingredients that just make you feel good all over. Besides the fact that I can already sense the comments coming from friends and family who might be curious if my next trick will involve moving to a commune, I couldn’t wait to share this recipe with you. And at the great risk of sounding like a dime-a-dozen press release for a new cookbook for moms or something, this is quick and easy, real food for a real day. And I think that’s pretty great.

This cookie is all oatmeal (some ground into flour, some left whole and tweedy), no white flour, only a bit of raw sugar and that aforementioned overripe mashed banana for a completely satisfying sweetness. Heck, since there’s oil involved, but no eggs or butter, these could even be vegan in flash, just by swapping out the cow milk for soy and using dairy-free dark chocolate chips. And since one of my favorite people in the entire universe is my utterly adorable vegan little sister, this is a recipe I’ll be hanging onto for a long time coming.

Crunchy and nubbly on the outside, with an interior like an awesome banana bread, the texture here is totally craveworthy. Crammed with toasty nuts and bits of chocolate in addition to the all the health involved, these don’t taste like anything other than just dang good cookies. The kind you can shove one after the next into your face without thinking. I’m just saying.

Everyday Cookies
Adapted loosely from Health Magazine, November 2008, of all places

These cookies could easily be made vegan--just swap out the cow's milk for soy and use a dairy-free chocolate chip, such as the semi-sweet ones by Tropical Source. These could be made even more virtuous by leaving out the chocolate entirely and using raisins or other dried fruits as an add-in. Some shredded toasted coconut wouldn't hurt, either, if you're into that sort of thing. Use any nut you like, roughly chopped, and lightly toasted in a 350 degree oven for about 7 minutes.

Makes about 16

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raw (turbinado) sugar
1 large ripe banana
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup milk (can be swapped out for soy--see note)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds (or other nut you prefer), lightly toasted
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (see note)

Position the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

Place 1 1/4 cups of the oats in a food processor or clean coffee grinder (my preference) and grind the oats very finely into a flour. Pour into a large mixing bowl and whisk together with the remaining 3/4 cup of oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Set aside.

Peel and halve the banana. Chop half into a medium dice and set aside. Place the other half in a medium bowl and mash well with a fork or your hands until it resembles a puree--no big chunks. Whisk in the oil, milk and vanilla.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wets. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir the batter until well-blended. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips and chopped banana pieces. Let stand for about 10-15 minutes. Drop the batter in to mounds, 2 tablespoons each, onto the baking sheets, no more than 9 per sheet. Bake until puffed and golden, 22-25 minutes, rotating the sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Cool for 2 minutes on the sheets before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days (note: after the first day or so, their outer crunch will go soft, but they'll still be delicious).

CookiesShauna Sever