Banning the Bake Sale? Better you should be making Fat Banana Cookies
Every autumn there’s more of this: bake sales being swept up willy nilly in the (laudable! I’m for it!) attempt to get junk food out of the schools.
Sigh. When will these people wake up and smell the donuts? You don’t have to be Michael Pollan to realize American kids’ obesity problem isn’t caused by too many home made desserts, it’s caused by a crashing dearth of home made anything else.
When even well fed children are growing up thinking a carrot’s a machine-made toy, ready to eat right out of the bag, it’s hardly surprising to find that the default model for “food” is something you buy, not something you prepare at home. And from there it’s not rocket science to see the profitability of sugar, salt and fat.
But the solution isn’t to ban sugar, salt and fat per se (good luck with that, btw), it’s to give children a chance to combine these things into something really good and thus seduce them into the joys of home cooking. From there the rest is easy… Well, easier, anyway.
Point here is simply that people who know how to cook eat a lot less junk than people who don’t, and dessert is the gateway goodie – most children go for baking cookies before they get all excited about making boeuf bourguignon.
Case in point: Fat Banana Cookies, rich with fruit and nuts, simple to make, filling enough so just a few will do. Also durable; thanks to the banana they stay moist and tasty for a good long time.
FAT BANANA COOKIES
For about 4 dozen:
2/3 c. whole almonds
2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. mace
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
½ c. butter
½ c. lightly packed dark brown sugar
½ c. sugar
1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
¼ tsp. almond extract
generous ½ c. dried apricots cut in ¼ inch dice or if you prefer, golden raisins*
1 tbl. finely shredded lemon zest
2 tbl. whole wheat flour (or all purpose if you’re out of whole wheat)
1 ½ c. mashed very ripe banana.
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 2 large baking sheets or line them with parchment paper. Combine flour, soda, mace, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl, stirring with a wire whisk to mix them thoroughly. Set aside.
2. Spread almonds on a baking sheet and toast until a broken one is light gold, 10 to 12 minutes. While nuts are toasting, cream butter with the sugars in a large bowl, then beat in egg, egg yolk and extract. Set aside.
3. Remove almonds and raise heat to 375. Let the almonds cool slightly, then chop into pieces the size of the apricots, not worrying about odd crumbs. Mix with the apricots, zest and whole wheat flour. (I know, I know, lots of bowls. Gives multiple kids special tasks of their own. Total hand bowl-washing time, about 1 minute.)
4. Beat the banana into the creamed mixture, then gently stir in the flour mixture, followed by the nut one. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared sheets, keeping them well apart. They don’t spread much but do need air circulation. Flatten slightly.
5. Bake until cookies are warm brown and cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes depending on size and oven. Cool on wire racks.
* The apricots should be the sulfured kind and of course that comes with the territory if you use golden raisins. The sharpness of the sulfur helps keep the cookies from being cloying; if you use unsulfured fruit, toss it with lemon juice and let it dry a bit before mixing with the zest etc.