Sunday, April 4, 2021

Banana Cookies!

Today, we at A Book of Cookrye are venturing off the banana bread path and having our bananas in cookie form!

Banana-Oatmeal Cookies
1 c sugar
½ c shortening
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1½ c flour
1 c mashed very ripe bananas
1¾ c oatmeal
½ c nuts if desired

Heat oven to 350°. Line a cookie sheet with foil and grease it.
Press the bananas hard into a measuring cup until you have one cup of them. Then put them through a blender. You will probably need to stop the machine and stir the bananas a lot at first.
Beat together the sugar, shortening, soda, salt, and spices. Mix in the flour (it will be sandy). Add the bananas and oatmeal, mix well.
Measure the dough into 1-tbsp portions. Roll them into balls, and press each one flat in your hands. Bake 12-15 minutes (I only needed to bake for 12). Separate them from the foil while still warm (you may need a spatula).
These cookies aren't as well-suited to leaving out on an open plate- they will go stale. Put them in a sealed container as soon as they're cool so they keep fresh.

Source: Mary Skurka (Whiting, Indiana), Anniversary Slovak-American Cook Book, First Catholic Slovak Ladies' Union, 1952

I'd like to first note that for some reason the house has a tiny rubber spatula. It seemed useless until I had to get bananas out of a measuring cup.

I thought Mary Skurka of Whiting, Indiana had just taken a normal recipe for oatmeal cookies and put bananas in them. I was pretty sure these cookies would either come out gummy or like freestanding cakes. Nevertheless, I haven't seen anyone else put out a recipe for banana cookies (I also haven't looked), so we begin with a big scoop of shortening. 

Don't buy those measuring cup sets with the labels printed on. They will come off and you will have to try to scratch the measurement onto the handle.

This can of shortening has gotten bigger in my mind since Hillary Clinton's recipe told me to buy it. I haven't gotten it down from its shelf in some time. Since it has been in the back of my mind as constantly as it has been on the back of the shelf, I thought the can was big enough to contain a whole ham. I was then surprised to find that I can carry it one-handed. As you can see, it's not much bigger at the top than the measuring cup we're using. Anyway, let's have a look at the unnatural whiteness that begins this recipe!

You know how we've sometimes mentioned that we are gradually snapping all the much-used wooden spoons in the kitchen? Well, the one you see there is a new one! Furthermore, it's not one of the cheap ones that love to break when you try to use them. It's so nice to use a spoon with a handle longer than a short stub again.

Getting back to the cookies, these look a lot like the Hillary Clinton recipe at this point. We started with a lot of unnaturally white paste, and now we're adding enough spices to give it a color that looks like it could occur in nature.

At this point, I noticed something a little odd about the recipe. Normally, one would crack in an egg or two at this creamed-until-light stage. But Mary Skurka makes no mention of such things. I thought it must be a misprint- or maybe it's one of those things that is supposed to be so obvious that she didn't need to mention it. I was going to add an egg despite the omission, but figured that leaving it out means I can blame Mary Skurka if this recipe fails. 

With that said, the omission of eggs and the deployment of shortening rather than butter makes this technically a vegan recipe. This excited a friend of mine who has a vegan coworker who might like to make it. I wasn't worried about this recipe's vegan-ness ruining it (after all, one of my favorite spice cake recipes is vegan). Every bad vegan recipe I've ever made goes out of its way to tell you it's vegan, as if no one would like it otherwise. All of the other various foods that just happen to have no meat eggs or dairy tend to be as good as anything else. No one went out of their way to shove the word vegan into the title or a little note above this recipe. Therefore, this recipe is just meant to be a cookie recipe, and not one where someone smugly insists that you can in fact make tofu meringue pie and no one will tell the difference.


Speaking of a failed recipe, I was dead certain I had one on my hands. I've never had a cookie recipe look like sand when we should be almost done mixing it.

This recipe is unique among banana recipes I've made in that the bananas actually hold it together. Or at least they hopefully do. You can leave the bananas out of banana bread (or banana cake, depending on who you've asked what it's called) and still get a lovely cake. But these cookies would be nothing without our title ingredient. And also some oatmeal.

These were hard to mix together, but not for the reason you may think. The dough (if we can call it that) wasn't too stiff to push a spoon through. It was just so sandy that I couldn't stir without flinging it everywhere. Instead, I had to gently push the spoon back and forth in hopes that things in the bowl would at least sort of look like cookie dough.


The recipe then tells us to drop the cookies onto a pan. Drop cookies are always a bit of a gamble- you never know whether they'll bake into hardened dough clumps, spread into lovely cookies, or melt into a big cookie-puddle on the pan. But (as I so often tell myself) you can't blame yourself for doing what the recipe told you to. And yet, these cookies just didn't seem like they would want to spread at all.

I was mostly right. The dough drooped a little in the oven, but mostly held the same shape as when it plopped out of the measuring spoon. Maybe I'm getting a bit opinionated (let's pretend this is a new development), but I don't like cookies that look like random rocks.

I'd thought about pressing them flat before baking, but feared that they'd spread anyway and then be too thin. However, it turns out that this is one of those recipes where the cookie dough comes out of the oven in almost the same shape as it went in.


Anyway, now that we know that the dough doesn't get runny and spread before it bakes, we can ensure that we have actual cookies instead of these rock-looking things.

Having put them in the oven shaped like cookies instead of shaped like dough plops, we got cookies after they were done.

As for the taste: these are amazing. Everything about them is just perfect. The cookies are soft and dense in the middle, like brownies. They're right on the line between crisp and crunchy outside. Half of this plate was demolished in a single night.


  1. It's always good to find new things to do with bananas that have gone mushy!

  2. I didn't find any interesting banana recipes in my cookbooks, but I did find waffle iron cookies which made me think about cooking banana bread/cake batter in a waffle iron. After all, summer is coming, and I know that you like adventures in cooking things in a waffle iron.
    "Choc Waffle Iron Cookies" Marti Patter (from Police Potpourri, Cedar Rapids Iowa State Policeman's Association Auxiliary" 1977)
    Cream 1.5 c. sugar with 1 c. butter. Beat in 4 eggs. Add 2 c. flour, 1/2 c. cocoa, 2 tsp. vanilla. Beat well. Drop by spoonful onto waffle iron and bake till done. Frost. The recipe notes they are better on the second day.

    1. Better the second day? With such an ominous note, challenge accepted.

  3. Update, because I made these!

    The difficulty of combining the shortening with the other ingredients without everything flying everywhere made me think these would be a good fit for "cookies you make in a blender." Or in my case, a food processor! I used the dough hook on my food processor and it worked a treat. For those using a traditional blender, it'd probably be best to mix up all the ingredients except the oats in the blender, and then fold the oats in by hand.

    These are yummy! Next time, I think I'll add a little vanilla and almond extract. The vanillamond combo makes everything taste professional, and it's darn tasty to boot!

    1. You know, I've never really made use of a food processor. It was always one of those things we don't have in this house. There's one lurking under the counter right now, and I just kind of forget it's there when it would have been handy.
      Also, I think we have almond extract somewhere in the back shelf-- we'll have to try it again.

    2. The vanilla/almond combo was one I learned from my aunt, who uses it when making her Christmas sour cream sugar cookies. They always had that something else special, and when I finally pried the recipe from her, it turned out to be using half each of vanilla and almond extracts. I've applied it to a lot of other baked goods, and it's delightful!