When I was visiting my brother over the holidays, he told me he wanted to say something, and that he hoped it wouldn’t upset me.
“Uh, OK,” I said.
“We’ve made the Banana Nuggets according to your recipe, they don’t turn out the way Mom’s did, and we think it’s because of the butter. We’re pretty sure Mom used shortening.”
At that moment, I wasn’t sure. Did she? Didn’t she? If she had, had I committed a grave sin by messing with tradition? Also: Did I actually have to remind these people, supposedly my relatives, that butter is delicious?
I found an email from her that contains the recipe. It calls for “3/4 c shortening” but her instructions say to “cream the butter and sugar”. Hmmm. It’s true that when I made them — with butter– they spread more than Mom’s did, which would indicate that she used shortening. But I found that chilling the dough before baking solved this problem and didn’t think about it again until the Banana Nugget intervention of Christmas ’09.
I bring all of this up because there are some treacherously ripe bananas on my table right now, and I’m thinking about making a batch.
But if you think I’m going to use anything but butter, you are sorely mistaken.
This is a soft, cake-like cookie, with a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg. The dough is packed with rolled oats, a fact which I repeat to myself when I end up eating a stack for breakfast, which has happened on more than one occasion. It’s just like eating oatmeal, right? Right? Maybe not, but it’s probably better than having a doughnut.
Keep a close eye on these as they bake: If they get too brown they will be dry, and lose the tender moistness that makes them so very good. The banana should be VERY ripe, beyond the point where you would just peel and eat it, so that it mashes to a nice puree and provides plenty of sweetness.
Banana Nugget Cookies
3/4 c (6 oz) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 c sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground or freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 t cinnamon
1 c thoroughly mashed ripe banana (from 1-3 bananas, depending on their size)
6 oz good quality chocolate chips, semisweet or bittersweet.
1 3/4 c rolled oats
1. Preheat the oven to 325°.
2. With either a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until the mixture is pale, light, and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the egg to the butter and sugar and continue to mix until thoroughly incorporated, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
4. Thoroughly combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add about a third of this dry mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed for a few seconds. Stop to scrape down the sides and then mix on low until just combined.
5. Add half of the mashed banana to the dough and mix on low speed until just combined, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
6. Add another third of the dry mix in the same fashion, then the rest of the banana, and finally the last of the dry. Make sure everything is fully incorporated, but do not overmix!
7. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold the oats and chocolate chips into the dough, just until evenly distributed. If the dough is very soft at this point, put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before continuing.
8. Using two teaspoons, drop the dough into 1 or 1 1/2″ mounds onto an ungreased cookie sheet (you can line it with parchment if you want but it’s not necessary). The cookies should be about 2″ apart. Do not flatten the mounds.
9. Bake the cookies for 11-13 minutes, just until the tops are set and starting to color. Do not let them get very brown. Let the cookies cool slightly so that they don’t fall apart when you try to pick them up, and then use a spatula to transfer them to a rack to cool. If you only have one cookie sheet, let it cool completely before baking another batch.
10. Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container for 4-5 days.
yields about 5 dozen