Chocolate Chip Banana Chip Cookies: Virtual Food Fight

Today marks two full weeks of California’s shelter-in-place order.  And in comparison to many others in California who have encountered major struggles in conjunction with complying with the order, I have had it relatively easy.  Our home is comfortable and spacious enough to hold two working-from-home adults and three teenagers kids in distance learning, and while our internet bandwidth could use a major boost, we are connected to the internet.  We also have Netflix, a video game console with some fun family games, puzzles. We eat well, as I am cooking more meals than I have ever cooked in a concentrated period in my life.  I have requested that the kids handle their own breakfasts, and lunches are a mix of leftovers or simple-to-gather foods from the fridge (the rule is you must gather from the fridge) and dinners are family affairs.  We are lucky and blessed, and I rarely forget that as I move through my day. My family is with me, and we are whole.  We are cranky at times, but generally, we are whole.
But even my introverted self is missing some of my daily fun interactions with my closest friends and neighbors.  I will say that while I do not see my friends from my daily life, we make more time for crazy texting and group Facetime or Zoom meetings.  And humor.  Lots of humor.  We send back and forth quips, the funniest situations from our life (one of my good friends is raising a puppy, and her stories of puppy-mom-in-quarantine are pretty hilarious), the toilet paper we are counting, the curse words we are swallowing, the food we are burning through, and one afternoon it was the pantry “Would you eat this?” game.  One of my friends had time to dig into her pantry and began sending us some pictures of expiration dates and whether we would eat it or not.  For the most part, we all said eating the foods were fine, which pretty much gave our friend a lot more cake mixes to bake. Then we had another series of texts and pictures for the next game, “Can you use this?” which featured unopened food items from one house to see if it would be used in another.  I’m not one to turn down ingredients, so during that game I won banana chips and arborio rice. (No takers for the boar sausage though.) The banana chips ended up on my doorstep the next morning. My husband went out to the front to take a call, and came in with a quizzical look on his face and a package of organic banana chips in his hand, asking, “Uh – did you leave these banana chips outside?”  (For the record, I don’t know if I’ve ever just had banana chips in the house.) 
So this cookie is a cookie of adjustment, survival, give-and-take.  Not one of us is leaving this period of pandemic unscathed – it will touch us in ways yet unseen. But in all the small ways, I’m pushing to remind myself of the lessons we will learn – resilience, flexibility, and joy in all circumstances. This cookie — it’s not a normal chocolate chip cookie, as it is not born of normal times — but it is tasty and has some unusual items, which are easily substituted by other items you may have lurking in your pantry.  DO NOT go out to purchase anything – simply use what you can and see what you can make.  Creativity is often born from limits, so try your best to adapt what you have to make this cookie.  It is best enjoyed slightly underbaked, so you end up with a slightly gooey center when warm, and a soft cookie when cool.  (My wonderful neighbors got to enjoy it this way.)
The recipe makes a lot (because I created it to use up a huge bag of banana chips) but they are the perfect cookie to bag up and send to friends to let them know you are thinking of them.  (Use safe food handling practices, including washing hands very carefully; if you are sick, don’t make these for others.) To my people, I’m missing you much.
Banana Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 6 dozen
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup wheat germ OR 3/4 cup ground up oats (toast in the oven at 350 for 5 minutes)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
2 cups banana chips, roughly chopped (or coconut chips, or nuts, or some other type of dried fruit would work here)
2 cups chocolate chips (I used just some basic semi-sweet ones, but milk, white, or bittersweet all work.  Mix it up if you like)
Preheat oven to 375.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, wheat germ (or ground oatmeal), baking soda, baking powder, salt.  Set aside.
In a large bow, or in a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and both sugars until well incorporated.  Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the side of the bowl, but beating until each egg is just incorporated.  Add flour mixture in two parts, and then add banana chips and chocolate chips.  Mix until everything is just incorporated. 
Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 inches apart onto a cookie sheet.  Gently flatten down the tops of the dough mounds so they spread a bit during baking.  Bake for 7-8 minutes, until lightly golden on the top and bottom.  Cool on the sheet for 2 minutes, and then transfer to racks to cool. 
If you over bake them, you’ll lose the mild gooeyness and the cookies will be crunchier (but still tasty).
Printable recipe
Waiting to enjoy these with my friends.

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