It’s true, peanut butter and jelly make a pretty good team. But in my opinion, there’s no better partner in crime for peanut butter than a banana. They are the Rocky and Bullwinkle of flavor combinations, the Ren and Stimpy, the Scooby and Shaggy. One can function just fine alone but put the two together and suddenly one plus one equals three. It’s culinary (and cartoon) synergy at its finest.
Of course, the combination of peanut butter and banana isn’t a new thing. We’ve all heard of Elvis’s sandwiches. But everyone has their own personal “aha” moment of it, and mine takes me back to my early college years.
I was on a camping trip and saw someone digging into a peanut butter sandwich with thick slices of banana oozing out from the sides. Suddenly my can of ravioli didn’t seem so satisfying anymore. I wanted that sandwich. I knew what I had to make for dinner when I got home from the woods.
Back then, my mom would call me every night and ask, “What did you have for dinner?” She had raised me on knockout home-cooked meals and if I told her that dinner was a cold affair made with a product scraped from a jar, she would think that I needed to move back home asap or I would die of malnourishment.
So just to prove to mom that I was capable of using the kitchen appliances that came with my apartment, I made an open-faced, grilled version of the peanut butter and banana sandwich. I buttered the bottom side of the bread, spread the peanut butter on top, and crowned it with sliced bananas. Then I baked it in the oven until the bread got toasty and finished it off under the broiler. It was divine.
The cooked bananas were sweet and almost creamy, the peanut butter was warm and gooey, and the toasted bread underneath provided a nice textural contrast. It was a little messy and drippy, but worth every minute spent cleaning the oven. Mom was amused but satisfied enough to believe that I would live to see another day.
I’ve always wanted to come up with a cookie version of that epic sandwich, and this recipe for Vegan Peanut Butter And Banana Cookies gives you just that. It features a slice of banana pressed on top of a ball of peanut butter cookie dough.
Incorporating the banana this way, instead of mixing it all into the dough, gives you the same effect as what I got from the sandwich—the heavenly contrast of textures and flavors as you bite through the soft, cooked banana first before getting to the slightly crispy peanut butter cookie beneath it.
In this recipe, brown sugar gets sprinkled on top of the banana to give it some color. The cookies come out of the oven with each piece of banana sporting a gorgeous dark golden center. But the brown sugar does create a little bit of a dilemma later on when you go to store the cookies.
Since it sits on top of moist banana, the sugar will remain liquidy instead of crystallizing. If you don’t mind this bit of stickiness, go ahead and sprinkle the sugar on top of the banana. If the stickiness bugs you, feel free to leave this step out.
These cookies are best eaten the same day as baking, just after they’ve cooled to room temperature. As such, they’re perfect for bringing to a large gathering like a potluck or party. If you don’t have enough people around to help you gobble 30 cookies, I recommend storing them in the freezer, since they contain cut fruit. (Cookies and cakes fare better in the freezer than in the refrigerator.)
Seal them in a double layer of plastic bags first. Frozen cookies can be thawed by leaving them at room temperature for just 30 minutes. If you’d rather go without having to store them in the freezer, feel free to leave out the bananas. It’ll be kind of like watching an entire episode of just Ren or just Shaggy, but you’ll still have a fantastic peanut butter cookie.
(Adapted from recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies on www.food.com)
Yield: 30 – 32 cookies, about 2 ½ inch each
Total prep time: 30 minutes
Freeze time for bananas: 1 hour (You can freeze them the night before)
Bake time: 12 – 15 minutes
A. Flax Seed Egg
Prep time: 5 minutes
- 2 teaspoons flax seed
- 3 tablespoons hot water
Step 1: Using a spice grinder, grind the flax seed to a fine meal. Transfer to a small bowl.
Step 2: Add the hot water to the flaxseed meal. Stir with a fork until it thickens. Set aside.
B. Mixing And Baking Cookies
Prep time: 25 minutes
Bake time: 12 – 15 minutes
- 2 ripe bananas
- ½ cup plant-based butter (room temperature, available at most grocery stores)
- ½ cup peanut butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 flax seed egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Step 1: Preheat oven to 375F.
Step 2: Peel the bananas and cut to ¼-inch cross-sections.
Place them in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Transfer to freezer until bananas are frozen solid, at least an hour. Set aside. Store unused bananas in a closed container in the freezer.
Step 3: Add the room temperature plant-based butter to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until creamed.
Step 4: Add peanut butter. Mix on medium until blended with the butter.
Step 5: Add the sugar, flax seed egg, and vanilla extract.
Mix on medium until ingredients are evenly incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula halfway through.
Step 6: Add the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Mix on low just until all ingredients are evenly incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula halfway through.
Step 7: Refrigerate the dough 15 minutes.
Step 8: Using a tablespoon-size scoop, scoop balls of dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing them at least 2 inches apart.
Step 9: Press one frozen banana slice onto each cookie (optional but highly recommended).
Step 10: Sprinkle a pinch of brown sugar on top of banana (optional but recommended).
Step 11: Bake 12-15 minutes. They’re done when the cookies lift cleanly from the sheet pan and the bottoms are golden brown.
Step 12: Remove sheet pan from the oven.
Place on cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature.
Step 13: To store leftover cookies, place them inside a double layer of sealed plastic bags.
Step 14: To thaw frozen cookies, remove from plastic bags, and let sit at room temperature about 30 minutes.
Alice Mesa is an environmental scientist turned foodie. She followed her heart away from a 10-year career in the water quality industry and into the kitchen, where she spent the next few years as the owner and operator of a handcrafted vegan chocolates business. Alice combines her passion for cooking with her vegan lifestyle by creating and writing about dishes that are not only delicious, but plant-based as well.