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Banana, Cherry, Pistachio and Spelt

May 27, 2010

It all started with the over-ripe bananas sitting in a bowl on the counter. They were soft, the peel was beginning to go dark and a certain some one thought they were past the point of being edible. That person was not me. I know a good banana cake when I see one and it had been quite a while since I’ve made my infamous “Banana cake”. Spiked with chocolate chips, garnished with salted walnut brittle and coated with a generous layer of Nutella spread, this cake is something else. Or at least it would have been and was going to be. Then I remembered that I had cherries from the Farmer’s Market in the fridge and for some reason my mind drifted back to this picture I have in an old recipe binder. It is a recipe that I cared enough about at the time to slip into a clear  protective sleeve. This binder is old and it is thick. It’s also filled with a menagerie of recipe cards, magazine clippings from the years past of: Gourmet, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit and even Martha Stewart magazine. There are random notes, and scans from the internet and not all of the recipes in this binder were lucky enough to get sleeved. But this one recipe happened to be.

The picture is lovely and the recipe has always sounded interesting: “Walnut-coated banana thumb-prints are packed with heart-healthy potassium”. Upon careful inspection to the fine print I was pleased to discover I had pulled this out of a magazine back in December. Of 2001. From Fitness magazine. Wow. It was a whole story on cookies (healthy ones) and ‘Best of the Boxed’ where the magazine rated big brands producing “low-fat” cookies. Granted this was in 2001 and I think it is well-known now, that “fat-free” and “sugar-free” labels on any food products don’t exactly mean healthy or better for you. It just means they are filled with extra chemicals and additives. Reminds me of those dangerously good fat-free SnackWell’s soft chocolate cookies. You remember the ones. I know people who could eat a whole box of them and somehow feel no remorse because they allegedly are fat-free. But what else was in them? And why were they so good? When it comes to cookies I’d rather enjoy a real Oreo now and again, splurge on a white chocolate-Macadamia cookie from a local bakery, eat a fig bar and attempt making my own version of “healthy cookies”. I have been reading recently on recipes for very good but very low fat, alternative sugar and allergy-free versions of different Girl Scout cookies. This seems intriguing. A bit like having your cookie and eating it to. Also included in the Fitness magazine Cookie story are recipes for: Cinnamon-sugar snickerdoodles (containing tofu), Chewy Jam bars, and Espresso Chocolate Chip cookies(with margarine and fat-free cream cheese! Um, no thanks). None of which I have attempted to make yet, but I am strongly contemplating improving.

Banana Thumbprint Cookie

– Below is the original recipe from Fitness Magazine circa 2001. I have included the changes I made to this recipe at the bottom. The finished version of this cookie my way yielded about 15  cookies that were about 2  1/2 inches in size. They were really great for breakfast with coffee or a cup of hot tea. They were also soft and slightly dense. Reminded me of a certain banana bread but in cookie form. Also lacking in the Nutella!

3 tbsp. butter (soft)

2 small-to-medium bananas, sliced (about 1 1/2 cup sliced banana)

1 1/2 cups A.P. Flour *

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg (separated)

2 tbsp. egg substitute **

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup walnuts (finely chopped)***

40 pitted sour cherries (drain liquid if using canned)****

* I substituted Spelt flour for All-purpose flour

** I omitted the egg substitute

*** I used a mixture of finely chopped pistachios and almonds instead

**** I used fresh cherries and sliced the edges around the pit

Additionally I added:

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

a sprinkle of kosher salt on all the cookies after baking, but this can be added to the batter prior

A drizzle of agave nectar across all cookies after baking


Combine soft butter and bananas in a stand mixer. Beat together until smooth and fluffy.

Reduce speed to low and beat in half of the: flour, sugar, egg yolk, egg substitute and vanilla extract until combined.

Fold in remaining flour until combined. Do not over mix.

Cover and chill for 1 hour until dough is firm enough to handle.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small, shallow bowl, whisk egg white with 1 tsp. water.

Place finely chopped nuts in a separate small and shallow bowl.

Roll dough into 1 inch. balls. Roll balls in egg white mixture, then roll in nuts to coat.

Place balls 1 inch. apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or sprayed with your favorite non-stick spray.

Using your thumb make an indentation in the center of each cookie and press a cherry into the center.

Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 29, 2010 10

    You had me at Nutella, then lost me at Nutella. Still … I want to try this. Like you said … perfect with your morning coffee.

    • May 30, 2010 10

      you should make them! I just remembered I had a bit of 60 percent baking chocolate (bittersweet), so I chopped that up and put a few shards in. Let me now how it goes!

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