Friday, March 7, 2014

Banana Breakfast Cookies Recipe

When it comes to gluten and dairy free baking, things can get complected pretty quickly. Because gluten provides the "binding" property of wheat and gives wheat products the "chewy" texture associated with them, taking the a glutenous flour out of a recipe completely changes the chemistry of the ingredients and results in baked goods that barely resemble their off-limits peers. To compensate for this, most gluten-free recipes call for a blend of multiple types of flours and gums to replicate the gluten effect. 

When I was just starting out on the diet, I readily admit that these complex recipes intimidated me. Besides the sheer cost and hassle of locating these specialty goods, I just wanted to bake quick and easy creations that didn't take a chemistry textbook to comprehend. With some research online, I found many versions of simple oat cookies that fit the bill perfectly and experimented to create my own twist on them. Now, almost three years later, I almost always have these on hand in my refrigerator for an easy go-to for breakfast, snacks, or really any time I need a pick-me-up. 

Consisting of six easily accessible, naturally gluten and dairy free ingredients, the beauty of this recipe is that it can be adapted in a million different ways to accommodate a variety of preferences and restrictions. These cookies are reminiscent of a chewy bar and are not as sweet as their "cookie" name might imply. I have a hard time tolerating sweets with lots of added sugars so the natural sugars in this recipe are a good fit for me. 


Ingredients

2 cups certified gluten-free quick cook oats (I use Bob's Red Mill oats)*
3 bananas (preferably ripened but not completely brown)
1/4 cup almond milk (I use Silk original almondmilk)**
1/3 cup applesauce (I prefer applesauces with no added sugars, I used Mott's natural)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

*Make sure that the oats are certified gluten-free. Non-certified oats are off limits for celiacs and those with gluten intolerance due to high cross contamination with wheat crops. I use the rolled oats for a more chewy texture, but quick-cook oats can be used for a less chewy texture. Update (4/6): GF rolled oats were used for this post, but in subsequent batches, GF quick cook oats seem to work much better thanks to their superior binding when baked.
**I prefer almondmilk, but any non-dairy milk can be swapped for this recipe. For those completely without dining restrictions, skim milk can be used.

Directions

  1.  Set oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Peel the bananas and mash them in a mixing bowl with a fork (see right). Be sure to open it only when immediately making the recipe to avoid browning of the fruit when exposed to air. Remove any "strings" or brown spots.
  3. Add in remaining ingredients and mix with large mixing spoon. Fold the "batter" into itself. At first, it will seem like there are more dry ingredients than wet, but keep folding it into itself and mixture will slowly get an moist consistency.
  4. Let the mixed ingredients sit for 5 minutes to let the ingredients soak.
  5. Spoon mixture into muffin tin, mini muffin tin, or baking sheet. I prefer the cookies to be bite-sized so I use a mini muffin tin, but whatever size and shape you prefer can be adapted for this recipe. I do not recommend baking the cookies in a loaf pan.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. The bake time varies among ovens, ingredients, and usage of a baking sheet vs. a muffin tin. When they're under-cooked, they are very moist and fall apart quickly. I have never overcooked them but they definitely get tougher the longer they bake.
  7. After taking them out of the oven, let them cool a couple minutes, then transfer to wax paper for extended cooling. The cookies are so moist that I don't oil or grease the pans and they usually come out of them easily. Place them in airtight container in refrigerator to extend freshness. Use wax paper in container if stacking them.
  8. Enjoy!
Makes 24 cookies in a mini-muffin tin or 12 standard sized muffins.

Final Notes

The best part about these cookies is that they are very adaptable and can be tweaked to accommodate a variety of dietary needs and preferences. Toss in chopped nuts, raisins/craisins, dairy free chocolate chips, coconut, etc. The possibilities are endless! The recipe is very easy to cut in half for smaller batches if desired.


Update 4/6/14: While attending the Gluten-Free Living Conference and Expo, I stopped by the Enjoy Life Foods booth and was able to pick up some of their new dark chocolate morsels. I added 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips to the batter and mixed them up using the same time and procedure provided. They baked really well and were a perfect complement to the cookies. They help transform the cookies into a chocolate treat. Stay tuned for a full-length product review!




Disclaimer: The recipe provided is not an endorsement of the products used and should be reviewed to assess for personal dietary needs. Feel free to to contact me with any questions or comments. I was not compensated for this review and it is a reflection of my personal opinion.