Sunday, June 22, 2008

Whole Wheat Cookie Recipe: Yip Yap Organic Banana Snaps with Chocolate Chips, Raisins, & Nuts

With Apologies to Tania, Garrett, Garrett's Grandma Capune, and My Dogs


These giant cookies are a hit with both kids and adults.
Before I became a farmgirl in rural Missouri, I was (among other things) a graphic designer in urban Nortnern California. I had a collection of Rapidograph pens and subscribed to magazines with names like Communication Arts and Print. Now I collect pitchforks and rocks and read Progressive Farmer and the quarterly bulletins put out by the USDA.

I've also forgotten nearly everything I once knew about photo screens, acetate overlays, paste-up boards, and type indication (just coming up with this list was a challenge), but fortunately all that stuff is pretty much obsolete anyway. So much for my college education.

One thing I do remember after all these years is an article where a bunch of designers was asked what they thought was the most well designed food, and somebody said bananas. Yes! Bananas come with their own handy packaging so they transport well and you don't have to worry about washing them before eating—which you can easily do one-handed. And, unlike oranges, they aren't messy and therefore don't require a napkin.

Bananas also happen to be one of the World's Healthiest Foods, and are packed with vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, and fiber. According to the WHFoods website, they're one of our best sources of potassium—an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function—and can help do everything from build better bones to protect your eyesight. They also happen to be inexpensive, plentiful, and delicious.

Carrying around a healthy, protected snack is all well and good, but everybody knows the best way to enjoy a banana is after it's been baked into something like muffins or cookies or cake. The key to baking with bananas is to let them get really, really ripe — more ripe than you've probably had the nerve to let your bananas get.

I don't mean yellow with a few dark spots; I'm talking blackened skins with insides that have turned to mush. A little mold on the outside is even okay. Sure they look disgusting, but you won't believe the amazingly sweet banana flavor they'll give your baked goods. And guess what? Research conducted at the University of Innsbruck in Austria suggests that as fruits fully ripen, "almost to the point of spoilage," their antioxidant levels actually increase!

Organic bananas can now be found in many supermarkets, and they usually don't cost much more than the conventional ones. I find that organic bananas taste better, and of course they're better for your health, farm workers' health, and the environment.

Organic advocate and cookbook author Jeff Cox recently published a fascinating article called "How Organic Are Organic Bananas?" on Organic To Be, a wonderful group food blog created by Dave Smith, author of To Be of Use - The Seven Seeds of Meaningful Work, cofounder of garden tool company Smith & Hawken, and all around very cool guy. Here's a brief yet frightening excerpt:

After harvest, bunches of conventional bananas are floated in tanks of sodium hydrochlorate solution to dissolve the drips of latex sap that can discolor the fruit. Experiments have shown that fungicide-treated bananas can develop off-flavors. Yet "hands" of bananas (the small bunches we see in markets) are conventionally treated with fungicides by being placed in polyethylene bags with blocks of vermiculite treated with potassium permanganate to absorb the ethylene ripening gas that bananas give off. This allows the bananas to be stored and shipped over a month's time before they start ripening.

And that's just what happens after they leave the soil-destroying, chemical laden, disease- and fungus-ridden plantations. Yet according to Cox, when bananas are under organic cultivation "the soil improves in health, amount of soil life, availability of nutrients, resistance to soil pests and diseases, and its ability to produce extra high quality bananas and plantains." Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Unfortunately locally grown bananas aren't an option for most of us, but if you choose to buy imported bananas, the organic ones are well worth seeking out. When you find some, buy an extra bunch to ripen on the counter (if you put them in the fridge they'll make everything else in there taste like bananas) and when they start to look really scary, whip up a batch of these flavorful, cake-like cookies.


Say it with me now: Yip Yap Banana Snaps!

Susan's Yip Yap Organic Banana Snaps for People
Makes about 30 very large cookies (which freeze beautifully)

Last fall I was thrilled to see that Tania had started posting again on her Canadian food blog, The Candied Quince. One of the first recipes she put up was for Yip Yap Banana Snaps dog treats in honor of her little dog's third birthday, admitting she chose them because she liked saying the name. The name hooked me, too, and I immediately decided I needed to make some for my own dogs.

But then I saw the recipe for Garrett's Grandma Capune's Banana Cookies on Vanilla Garlic, and making treats for people quickly won out over making treats for dogs (I know, I know, animal abuse). The name Yip Yap Banana Snaps, however, stuck. In fact I couldn't stop saying it.

One night I crawled back into bed after getting up for a drink of water and excitedly announced to an only slightly coherent Joe, "I don't want to build a bread bakery anymore. I think we should sell Yip Yap Banana Snaps instead!"

"Go. To. SLEEP."

I pretty much followed Grandma Capune's recipe the first time I made these, then I doubled the recipe so I could make my signature giant size cookies and started making various other changes, including adding a little vanilla, swapping out half of the all-purpose flour for white whole wheat flour, and using a mixture of white and brown sugars instead of just white. They aren't health food, but they aren't terrible for you either.

You can make these cookies with raisins or chocolate chips and/or nuts or with nothing but the spices. Joe loves the raisin version; I like them with mini chocolate chips the best. As always I urge you to use local and organic ingredients whenever you can.

1 cup organic butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 real farm eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2¼ cups mashed very, very ripe organic bananas
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups organic all-purpose flour
2 cups organic white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg (a little less if freshly ground, which I recommend)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt

Optional additions (I usually split the batter in half and make two kinds):
2 cups raisins or 2 cups chocolate chips (per whole batch)
2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (per whole batch)

Heat the oven to 350F. Using an electric mixer (I use a hand-held mixer), cream the butter and sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until well combined. Beat in the vanilla.

Combine the baking soda and mashed bananas in a small bowl and let sit for 2 minutes to froth a bit. According to Grandma Capune and Garrett, the baking soda reacts with the acid in the bananas to give the cookies their lift and rise.

Mix the bananas into the butter mixture, then add the flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt and mix on low speed just until combined. The batter will be more like a thick cake batter than traditional cookie dough.

Stir in the raisins, chocolate chips, and/or nuts. Use a 1/4-cup scoop or 1/4-cup measure to drop cookies onto a heavy duty baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper. I can fit 6 cookies on one half-size commercial rimmed sheet pan.

(I highly recommend investing in a couple of heavy duty commercial rimmed baking sheets. At less than $14 each, they're one of the best kitchen deals around. Treat them well and they'll last for ages. I've been using the heck out of some of mine for 20 years for everything from baking scones to roasting Brussels sprouts.)

If the batter gets too gooey to handle, put it in the freezer for a few minutes to stiffen up. Bake cookies until nicely browned, about 16 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Store in an airtight container or freeze. I think they taste even better the next day, after the flavors have had a chance to mellow and mingle.

Other sweet recipes on Farmgirl Fare you might enjoy:
My Best Banana Bran Muffins (and other flavor variations)

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

© 2008 FarmgirlFare.com, the sweet-toothed blog where it was recently decided by unanimous vote that the ratio of cute animal photos to scrumptious dessert recipes is far too high, and have set about remedying the situation.

29 comments:

  1. Yummo!!! I want to eat at your house. All of these recipes look soooo good. Fresh, healthy, and delitious.

    ReplyDelete
  2. These cookies look really yummy. My Mom used to make a wonderful banana cake with really, really ripe bananas and after a couple of days, I swear I think the bananas femented - sure was a good cake!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Do you know if there is an alternative to butter/margarine? A more baby-sensitive item? My 1 1/2 year old is very sensitive to butter (NOT pleasant) and I try to avoid it. I'd like to find a healthy, butter/margarine-free cookie that she can have while the other kids are having their treat. Your cookie seems really great (for her-everyone else in my house would love it!) except for the butter.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bananas certainly are wonderful, but along with all the characteristics that make them so (nutriant rich, wrapped in its own packaging, can be eaten one handed,) let's keep in mind that most of the bananas we eat here in the US have been shipped from their point of origin in South America. That's a lot of food miles (and thus fuel and other resources) for an afternoon snack.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I hate to burst the banana bubble, because I love them too, but a recent NY Times op-ed is very worthwhile reading. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/18/opinion/18koeppel.html?scp=1&sq=bananas&st=cse. It should make all of us re-think our banana consumption, or at least serve as a warning that we may need to do so in the near future. Anyway, I love your blog, especially when you have time to post recipes! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Over-ripe-bananas-to-be-used-for-baking freeze well, too; they get even mushier! You can throw them in the freezer as is or put them in bags (to keep your frozen goods from smelling banana-y). When I have collected three, I make banana bread.

    And I've started using whole wheat in all my cookie recipes--it gives a wonderful crunchy texture.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Mandie,
    Thanks! We do eat well around here. : )

    Hi Sweet P,
    Really ripe bananas make such a huge difference when baking. I always know when something has been made with yellow bananas rather than brown - no banana flavor! : )

    Hi Katherine,
    If oil (such as canola oil) is an option for you, it might work in this recipe. While I've never baked a cookie without some kind of fat such as butter or margarine, I have substituted applesauce for part of the butter in oatmeal cookies. You might be able to use half applesauce and half peanut butter, which would give you some of the fat you'd be taking out and maybe help solidify the cookies. I often bake with Earth Balance 'buttery sticks' which are made with all natural oils that have not been hydrogenated and do not contain trans fats. They work really well in recipes.

    Hi Emily,
    You're absolutely right that most bananas sold in the US are imported (which I mentioned in my post) and they do travel many miles to reach us.

    However, they're also one of the most popular fruits consumed in this country - in part because they're inexpensive and available year round - and since I don't see them disappearing from every supermarket shelf in America in the very near future (of course I could be wrong!), I hope that by spreading the word about organic vs. conventional bananas, people who are going to buy bananas no matter what will take the time to consider spending a little more money and choosing organic.

    I think it's great that phrases like 'food miles' and 'carbon footprint' are becoming mainstream, and I know I personally make a large effort to buy food that has travelled as little as possible - right down to raising our own meat and growing organic heirloom vegetables year round. I also choose to go without lots of foods that I would really like to eat because the only ones available for sale have been shipped thousands of miles.

    I also think it's especially important for people to make an effort to buy food that is as 'local' as possible (whether that means grown across the state vs. across the country or from California rather than Chile) when those same foods are available more locally. For example, I would love to see more people buy U.S. lamb rather than buying lamb that has travelled all the way from Australia and New Zealand. It might take a little more looking, but it's out there, often from small producers like us. The American Lamb Board has a slogan - "10,000 miles fresher!" - which I love! Like I said, though, bananas are almost always imported, so the lesser of two evils would be to buy the organic ones.

    At times I do 'splurge' and carefully purchase things that are imported, like bananas, olive oil, and some cheeses. I buy from small artisan producers when I can. We buy coffee grown all over the world, but make a point to buy (and pay more for) fair trade, organic and shade grown beans. Doing so makes a huge difference in many ways, including in the lives of the small farmers producing them - and of course it tastes wonderful!

    I'll admit part of why I buy bananas is because they're inexpensive and available year round. I was just at the 'local' (35 miles away) supermarket today, and I couldn't believe they were selling peaches and nectarines for $3.69 a pound - not local, not organic, not very good looking, and probably from another country though I didn't check. I bought a giant cantaloupe grown in the US (and I think right down in Arkansas, though I'm not sure if those local ones are here yet) for $2.50 instead.

    Okay, I've started rambling (I get that way when talking about food), but I need to go move our grass-fed sheep to a new pasture so I'd better sign off and get outside! : )

    Hi Nicole,
    They are! : )

    Hi MonkeyHippy,
    Thanks for your comment, but I can't get the link you left to work and was unable to find the article by searching the NYTimes site. : (

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yip Yap Banana Snaps. Yip Yap Banana Snaps. Yip Yap Banana Snaps. Can't. Stop. Saying. It. Yip Yap Banana Snaps...

    ReplyDelete
  9. OH MAN - I'm so making these this weekend! Thanks for the great recipe.

    ReplyDelete
  10. About how many bananas is 2-1/4 cups mashed?

    ReplyDelete
  11. thanks! I'll try the applesauce/PB thing maybe. I'm not sure if oil would work well... Maybe I'll try that too.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Anon,
    I'm always hesitant to give the number of bananas to use in a recipe because they vary so widely in size, and my idea of 'small' of 'medium' might not be somebody else's. (I always wonder when a recipe calls for the 'juice of one lemon' if that's a golf ball size or one of the giant softball size fruits I sometimes see!) That said, I usually use about 6 small bananas - but I always measure them just to be sure. Extra bananas can sometimes do weird things to a recipe - like my Mexican Monkey Cake. : )

    Hi Katherine,
    The only thing about liquid oil such as canola is that it won't add any flavor to the cookies - and of course it will change the texture of the batter. I often see muffin recipes calling for oil, especially the ones from bakeries, because it's easier to use - you don't have to cream or melt butter - but I really notice the lack of flavor vs. butter or natural margarine. If you do experiment with this recipe, I'd love to hear how it goes. : )

    ReplyDelete
  13. I will definitely let you know how it goes. It's going to be at least another day or so, since I'm in the process of mulching my garden. I'm sick of weeding for hours every week, so I'm mulching the WHOLE THING. The baby 'needs' those cookies, though, so I'll have to get to it soon!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi again. Search for "Yes We Will Have No Bananas" on www.nytimes.com. That should work. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Can't wait for my bananas to brown now... got to say your reference to the graphics in days of yore gave me a chuckle. I'm a typesetter and I can't get out! Seriously, I have so little to do at work I just read all your archives and drool over your recipes.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Mmmmmm, nanners! Those look nice and close enough to healthy that I can lie to myself about it.

    btw, the NYT article

    ReplyDelete
  17. I made these last night - totally easy and totally yum! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Love the banana talk and it reminded me of an unfortunate fate the bananas are facing... I think you will find this article very interesting: http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2008-06/can-fruit-be-saved

    ReplyDelete
  19. Susan, here's the recipe as I tweaked it for a baby with a sensitive stomach. She loved it! My older 2 loved it too, and asked if they could have 'baby cookies' also.

    'Baby Cookies' A La Yip Yap Bananas:

    1/2 C apple sauce
    1/2 C peanut butter (natural)
    1/2 C sugar
    1/2 C brown sugar
    1 C whole wheat flour (I don't have any of the white wheat)
    3 C white flour (to offset the very heavy wheat flour)
    1 C oatmeal (regular-I didn't have quick cooking)
    2 1/4 C mashed bananas
    2 tsp baking soda
    2 eggs (I didn't see where I was supposed to put it in, so I just added them in to all the wet stuff)
    1 tsp vanilla
    2 tsp cinnamon (to make up for no nutmeg-I either don't have or can't find the nutmeg)
    1/2 tsp cloves 1 tsp salt

    I think that's all. I made them smaller (baby and kid-sized) and cooked them maybe 13 minutes. I'm going to try to freeze them so they last awhile.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Here is an interesting USDA write up on different banana varieties. http://weblogs.nal.usda.gov/infofarm/archives/plants_and_crops/index.shtml#003723

    Alex Tiller
    http://blog.alextiller.com

    ReplyDelete
  21. oh its all look sooo yummy,will try at home for sure

    ReplyDelete
  22. White whole wheat flour is great stuff. I always have it on hand. Can't have enough whole grain recipes :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. i made the cookies today and they came out fantastic! thank you for posting the recipe :)

    and i don't comment that much but i always look forward to your posts in my email and they always brighten my day, esp. the cute animal pics. keeps me hoping that someday i will be able to return to my old country life!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Now I'm worried because the organic bananas in my supermarket come in plastic bags. I complained to the manager, but now I'm also wondering if evil stuff is being done to them.

    About as annoying as finding organic eggs in hard plastic containers instead of normal recyclable egg cartons. What are those people thinking.

    ReplyDelete
  25. We made these cookies this week for the first time and they were a HUGE HIT in our home...thank you so much! Just perfect for lunch boxes too :-) I thought they tasted even better after they had been frozen.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I was really intrigued by the idea of a banana cookie, so I made a batch tonight. I thought they'd be a lot like banana bread, but wow, they are SO. MUCH. BETTER! I used Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry flour, and Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet baking chips. Mmmmmm!

    I drove my children bonkers while baking them, because I couldn't resist repeating Yip Yap, Banana Snap. Over and over.

    I don't remember how I stumbled across your blog, but I am so glad I found it! You are an amazing writer, and very generous to share your Farmgirl stories and recipes with us. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi Susan,

    So I'm completely addicted to your blog. And you have so many links I end up on posts from 2008. I don't care if they're new or not...all of your articles seem timeless to me and I love it.

    Thanks a lot!

    JG

    ReplyDelete
  28. These are delicious! Made a .5 recipe as that is all the banana I had, and now I can't wait for more ripe bananas. I used choco chip, and these are just wonderful. A delicious departure from banana breads. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete

January 2013 update: I know word verification is a big pain, but it's the only way I can stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I get every day. I don't want to require commenters to be registered Blogger or Open ID users because I know many of you aren't. Thanks so much for your understanding!

Hi! Thanks for visiting Farmgirl Fare and taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love hearing about your experiences with my recipes. Comments on older posts are always welcome!

Please note that I moderate comments, so if I'm away from the computer it may be a while before yours appears.

I try my best to answer all questions, though sometimes it takes me a few days. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

If you're waiting for a reply to your comment and have a Blogger profile (it's free to create one) you can check the NOTIFY ME box that is below and receive all follow up comments to just this specific post via email.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your e-visits to our farm!