The Banana Cookie recipe from Donna Hay’s new cookbook, Life in Balance: A Fresher Approach to Eating, sounds like its shouldn’t work; and the sight of the batter will not inspire more confidence. Have faith, though, and you will be rewarded with moist macaroons that taste intensely of banana and faintly of caramel and maple.
The ingredients are extremely simple: ground almonds, mashed banana, a small amount of maple syrup and a bit of cinnamon. When I mixed together all the ingredients, I had a thick batter rather than a stiff dough (kind of like the texture of matzoh ball batter before you refrigerate it). I was perplexed as to how to follow the instructions to “Roll 16 to 18 spoonfuls of the banana mixture into balls, Press them into the sugar-cinnamon mixture to coat all over, spacing the cookies an inch apart. . .” I ended up dropping spoonfuls of batter on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkling over the Turbinado sugar.
The resulting cookies were at their most delicious straight from the oven: crispy and chewy on the outside from the caramelized coat of raw sugar, and moist and soft on the inside like a macaroon. When the cookies completely cooled, the sugar on the outside melted a bit and the texture of the crust softened. I stored the cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator and that seemed to restore a bit of crispness to the sugar coating.
Maple Banana Almond Macaroons
Adapted from Donna Hay’s recipe for Banana Cookies from Life in Balance: A Fresher Approach to Eating, as it appeared in the Washington Post. The original name for this recipe is just “Banana Cookies”, but when I eat these, the texture reminds me more of macaroons than regular cake-ey/crispy cookie jar cookies; So, I’m going with “Maple Banana Almond Macaroons.”
1 cup mashed bananas (you will need about 3 bananas)
2 cups almond flour (finely ground blanched almonds)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup Demerara sugar (or Turbinado sugar–you want a sugar with large-ish crystals)
Combine the bananas, almond flour, maple syrup and the cinnamon.
Note: The original recipe called for putting just 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon in the batter and saving the remaining 1 1/4 tsp. for mixing with the Demerara sugar (which is used for coating the cookies after shaping). I didn’t read this right and put all the cinnamon in the batter. I made the cookies a second time and followed the instructions of putting a little cinnamon in the batter and using the rest to make a cinnamon sugar coating. I preferred the version which had all the cinnamon in the batter.
At this point my batter was very loose, so I couldn’t follow the instructions for rolling the batter into 16-18 balls and then rolling the balls in cinnamon sugar. I just dropped spoonfuls of the batter an inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkled over Turbinado sugar. You might need to use more sugar than called for to properly coat the cookies–use your discretion. The original recipe calls for slightly flattening the cookies, but I didn’t need to do that.
Bake the cookies at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until golden and crisp on the outside and golden brown on the bottom. (I know, this sounds like a long time for baking cookies, but have faith.)
Another Note: When I made these cookies for the second time, I tried making them smaller for a bigger yield (33 cookies). I baked them for slightly less time, about 30 minutes.