Banana Coconut Cookies

Banana Coconut Cookies / A Sweet Spoonful

I’ve been dreading writing my vows for months now — much in the same way I dreaded writing term papers or tackling really big, looming projects. To cope with the fact that I wasn’t yet actually writing anything down on paper, I bought different journals, thinking the problem was that I didn’t have the right note-taking vehicle. I bought a little black Moleskine. Still wasn’t feeling inspired. I picked up an Indian-print handmade paper journal at the student bookstore in the University District. It collected dust. I pulled out an old notebook covered in a print of Babar the Elephant doing yoga — surely this would be the ticket. Sadly, not so much. I finally pinpointed what my problem was: I had no idea what writing vows even looks like. I knew it was important to both of us that we do so, but most of the weddings I’ve been to have been pretty standard and I hadn’t seen many examples of couples writing their own. Enter Google. YouTube. Enter deciding to give up for weeks on end. And then one night, I poured myself a cocktail and decided to make a batch of cookies. Sam was out with a friend and as I sat waiting for the cookies to bake, I started to miss him and think about all of the reasons I love his company. The vows wrote themselves that night. No Babar journal, no YouTube inspiration — just the smell of warm walnut-flecked cookies and thoughts of why I looked forward to seeing Sam walk though the door.

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As with many creative projects, I suppose, writing vows became much easier the less I focused on how they’re supposed to be done. That wasn’t doing anyone any favors. Because let me tell you, if you start googling advice on writing your own vows? You get some very bland, heavy-on-cliche… very, very bad vows. I won’t say much more about what I came up with here; we decided not to show them to one another so they’d be a surprise on our wedding day. I made Sam stick to a word count limit because I worried he’d veer into Moby Dick territory (if you know Sam, you know this is a valid concern). When I read them out loud to myself to make sure there weren’t any clunky parts, I realized I can’t at all imagine keeping a calm, steady composure in front of close friends and family. So I suppose I’m going to have to really work on that. Or maybe not. Maybe the less overworked these things are concerning how they should or will be, the better.

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So instead, let’s talk about these cookies. How they beckoned me into late night baking. How I had all of the ingredients on hand at home. How we ate them for breakfast, and how Sam loved them so much, he sent many a cookie emoji requesting more. The cookie recipe is from my friend Nicole’s new book, Flourless. Nicole and I lived in San Francisco at the same time, way back when; I think we first met at a literary reading in the Mission in a very crowded, very hot cheese shop where we both read pieces of our work and tried not to sweat or stumble too much. I feel like we succeeded. The last time I saw Nicole before she moved to Morocco, we had toast at The Mill in San Francisco with our mutual friend Anne and talked all about our books (little did I know both Anne and Nicole were pregnant at the time!) and the joys and difficulties of being a first-time cookbook author. So when I received this gem in the mail a few weeks ago, I was particularly excited: here it was in the flesh! And so, so good.

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The thing I love about Flourless is that the recipes are all gluten-free but don’t rely on gums or binders, instead using nut meals / nut flours and fluffy egg whites. In the Introduction, Nicole notes that this is a book full of recipes “that do not call for hard-to-find ingredients and that also happen to be gluten-free — the naturally flourless concept made real.” Nicole’s style reminds me of my own (which is probably why I’m so fond of the book): she doesn’t shy away from dark, dark chocolate and gravitates towards fruit-heavy breakfast sweets and desserts. The book doesn’t feel like many gluten-free baking books I’ve come across in the sense that the focus isn’t at all on what’s not there (wheat flour) and how to compensate for that lack; instead, the focus is on big, bold flavor and decadent desserts that you could make on a late Tuesday night … or take a bit more time with for a special occasion.

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I was particularly drawn to this cookie recipe because it has no added sugar; it’s sweetened solely with banana. And I love the generous addition of oats and ground almonds along with the toasted coconut. As I suspected, you could really rename these Banana-Coconut Breakfast Cookies, and we basically did. They’re so wonderful in the morning with a cup of coffee, and I didn’t think twice about doing so thanks to the good, wholesome ingredients and lack of sugar. I’d like to credit them for helping me write my vows — and they very well might have. But perhaps the act of mindlessly working through a physical task instead of sitting and staring at a blank journal was just what I needed. That and a night without Sam to recognize all of the things I appreciate when he walks back through the door.

A note on nut flours / nut meal: Nut meal is becoming more and more common in the store. Bob’s Red Mill makes a line of Almond and Hazelnut Meal and Trader Joe’s just came out with a great cashew meal. You can certainly make your own by grinding down nuts in a coffee grinder or food processor — just do so slowly so as to avoid over-processing and making a paste instead.

Banana-Coconut Cookies
In a way, these are great ‘clean out the pantry’ cookies as you can sprinkle in any leftover nuts and seeds you have lying around. While Nicole doesn’t call for sunflower seeds, I decided to add them at the last minute and love the extra bit of crunch. Because these aren’t at all too sweet, the extra bit of flaky salt on top really amps up and rounds out the flavor.  

From: Flourless 

Makes 14-20 cookies, depending on size

3 large very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup / 60 ml coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 1/2 cups / 125 g rolled oats
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup / 120 g chopped walnuts
2/3 cup / 50 g unsweetened flaked coconut
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1-2 teaspoons flaky salt (like Maldon), to top (optional)

Heat the oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the banana and coconut oil. In another bowl, whisk together the oats, ground almonds, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Stir in the walnuts, coconut and sunflower seeds.

Drop by the heaping tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheets. With the palm of your hand, gently press down the tops of each cookie to flatten slightly. Sprinkle with flaky salt. Bake until the cookies are very lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

 

Comments

  1. Sara

    What a poignant description of this moment in your life. Lovely!

  2. Isabelle

    Too often we focus on how something is supposed to be done, instead of listening to that creative voice inside which tells us how we want something to be done. Ditching the supposed-tos and listening to that creative voice is a mission in life, I have found: one that makes life interesting and adventurous. Good luck and lots of love to your on the road to your wedding.

    Lovely recipe - one I will definitely be trying. xxx

  3. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    Funny, I wrote my vows while baking alone too! I just got married three weeks ago and was so overwhelmed with figuring out what I wanted to say...it came though, and they turned out perfect! I love the looks of this recipe too. So simple and delicious!

  4. Mary

    Beautiful, Megan - as always.

  5. Julia

    9 years ago my husband and I sat down in our living room and wrote our vows together. We started talking about what we wanted to promise to each other, the things that were important to us and between the two of us sharing those ideas and just making a list we were able to talk through and properly word our vows. We did it in about two and a half hours. I should mention... that we did this on a Tuesday night and the wedding was that Friday it can be done and it is absolutely 100% million worth doing. Good luck

  6. Nicole

    Megan, I'm so touched these helped with your vow-writing! Truly. (And I'd like to sneak onto your couch for a cookie/coffee/NYT reading - looks so cozy.) Thanks so much for the kind words and I'm so glad you both enjoyed these! Not long now - the day will be grand! Thinking of you - xo

  7. Sara Mendez

    Wishing I had some of these cookies right now and counting down the days until we see you! Remember that we all love you, Megan, and no one ever said you have to maintain composure! Just be the yourself!

  8. Kate

    Hi Megan, I'm a long time reader, but have never commented. I just got your book and have the Make-Your-Own-Signature granola in the oven. I noticed that recipe calls for 1 1/2 tsp of salt, while the others in the book only call for 1 tsp. I tasted a bit before it went in the oven and it did seem too salty. Is that a typo on this recipe?
    Thanks - Love your work!

  9. Teresa

    My husband and I wrote our vows and each chose a poem for the other, ee cummings for him and Christina Rosetti for me. For some reason I

  10. Kate

    Ha! Disregard my first comment! It came out of the oven, I put a small scoop in a dish to cool quickly so I could taste it... heavenly!

  11. Teresa

    (oops) was completely and (uncharacteristically for a shy person) calm during the ceremony. You'll be fine, it will be wonderful, and you'll remember most how great it was to be surrounded by people who loved you. We just had our 23rd anniversary on the 10th and it's still wonderful.

  12. Francesca

    There is an ocean of pure crap on the internet - especially when it comes to wedding related anything (re: MOH speeches, vows, things you 'need' to do). Glad you gave it some space :) These look delicious - we'll be seeing this at the weekend!

  13. Jessica

    Congrats on getting your vows in place...We stole ours from Walt Whitman! Can't wait to try these cookies out!

  14. Valerie | Pursuit of Sweetness

    Well you sure sold these cookies (and book)! I love the idea of a pinch of sea salt on top. Congrats on writing your vows...ONE STEP CLOSER ;)

  15. Joy

    Congrats on finishing those vows. Sometimes when you think too much about writing, it just doesn't come. I smiled when I read that it involved a cocktail and making cookies. I was doing that a couple of weeks ago, when J was out and I thought about the many things I missed about him and damn, I just really needed comforting bites of chocolate chip cookies. Thinking of you and you're upcoming big day. I'm sure it will be lovely, full of smiles, laughter and love.

    And yes, I'll try making these cookies soon. I have all the ingredients. Yay.

  16. kristie @ birchandwild.com

    My husband and I chose to write vows, but we did not read them at our ceremony. We chose to read them to each other on our wedding night, in our hotel room. We recited song lyrics to each other during the ceremony. This was romantic and not at all stressful, which is what I wanted.
    I had not heard of this book, but it looks wonderful. I love the look of these cookies, and am also attracted to them because they don't call for added sugar.

  17. Caitlin | teaspoon

    What a lovely way to write your vows. I'm sure they will be perfect when the day comes! I must get that book! It sounds wonderful, and these cookies look delicious.

  18. Heidi - Apples Under My Bed

    What beautiful words. I recall being in your position. Though not fuelled by cookies (why didn't I think of that?) the words came in those quiet moments of appreciation. I must make these cookies! Thank you for sharing x

  19. Mary

    Made the cookies this morning....loved them right out of the oven and later after they cooled

  20. Janine @ RusticKitchen

    Very best wishes to the bride and congrats to the groom. I know your vows will be heartfelt and a delicious treat for the soul. No pressure. Can't wait to read about the honeymoon trip.

  21. Terri Storter

    I sure wish you had a Pin It button for this cookie recipe!

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