My daughter Irini, the youngest of our three kids, absolutely loves baking. During the pandemic, she was a bored and annoyed college freshman that had to come back home instead of enjoying campus life on her own. Of course for me it was bliss, as we shared a lot of time together, especially in the kitchen. Cooking together was a great antidote to those first lockdown days.
We relived some of those fun moments during the holidays but now that she's back at college, I miss her...and her baking! To get over my empty nest syndrome, I whipped up a batch of her banana oatmeal & chocolate chip cookies recipe that she had taken from the "Two Peas and their Pod" blog.
But you know me, I never quite follow a recipe as it's originally written! This is a good one one, to be sure, and for people like me that don't like to measure and be too precise with ingredients, pretty easy. But I couldn't resist substituting Irini's usual chocolate chips with some of my fave Chian Tangerine Peel Spoon Sweet from Citrus Chios.
I just love these unique tangerines and on the rare occasion when I'm in Chios in the winter, I can pick them straight from our trees. The team at Citrus makes the Spoon Sweet by hand in very small-batches, using whole pieces of the peel of this highly aromatic Chian Mandarin. The fruit is recognized as PGI (a special product of Protected Geographical Indication) and has a more intense flavor and fragrance than the tangerines we know here in the States.
In traditional spoon sweets, you'll see the peel floating in a simple, all-natural syrup, making for a deliciously luxurious treat. It may have sugar, but there's no fat and absolutely zero preservatives or additives so I like to think of it as an all-natural little treat without too much guilt!
I always remind people to use the syrup and not just eat the fruit - it's wonderful in tea, instead of honey or sugar; drizzle it over pancakes instead of maple syrup; add it to seltzer for a shrub (or try them in cocktails!)...let your imagination run wild! In the meantime, though, here's Irini's cookie recipe for you to play with. I hope you have as much fun as I did!
Preheat your oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
In a larger bowl, mix together the butter and both types of sugar until smooth. Add the egg and the vanilla extract, mix some more, and then add the mashed banana, mixing well until everything is nicely blended.
Add slowly the dry ingredients, mixing lightly, just until everything is moistly blended. Then stir in the oats and tangerine pieces.
Using a spoon or an ice cream scoop, form the dough into balls (use about 2tbsp of dough per cookie). Place the cookies on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between them.
Bake in a well-preheated oven for 12 minutes or until golden around the edges, being careful not to overbake them if you want them to be soft in the center. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool down for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Enjoy!
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