Recipe: Mindy Segal's Banana Nilla Cookies

Recipe: Mindy Segal's Banana Nilla Cookies

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Emma Christensen
May 9, 2015
(Image credit: Dan Goldberg/Ten Speed Press)

When we have overripe bananas at my restaurant, HotChocolate, we cook them down and make a purée, which we then use in cakes, sherbet, or frosting — like I do here. I’ve always been somewhat fanatic about how well butterscotch and banana pair up, so I applied the combination to a simple Nilla Wafer-inspired sandwich cookie.

A few words to the wise: I bake the cookies low and slow so the edges do not get too dark. You can make the banana purée up to five days in advance. After a few days in the refrigerator, the top layer of the banana purée will oxidize slightly; that’s okay — just scrape it off before using. Finally, the frosting retains a little texture from the banana purée. If you want the frosting to be completely smooth, mix in four ounces of melted white chocolate with the butterscotch sauce.

To cut out the cookies, you will need a 2-inch or comparable round cutter. To pipe the frosting, you will need an Ateco tip #804.

Mindy Segal's Banana Nillas

Makes 32 sandwich cookies

For the cookies:
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup shortening
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2/3 cup sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons water
3 cups cake flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes

For the banana purée:
2 medium overripe bananas
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the frosting:
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds only
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1/2 cup caramel sauce, store-bought or homemade, at room temperature

To finish:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 64% cacao), melted
2 ounces Valrhona Dulcey, melted, or caramelized white chocolate (see Recipe Note)

Make the Cookies: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and shortening on medium speed for 
5 to 10 seconds. Add the sugars and mix on low speed to incorporate. Cream the mixture on medium speed until it is aerated and looks like frosting, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.

Crack the eggs into a small cup or bowl, and add the vanilla and water.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salts.

On medium speed, add the eggs and vanilla, one egg at a time, mixing the first briefly before adding the second, until the batter resembles cottage cheese, approximately 5 seconds for each egg. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Mix on medium speed for 20 to 30 seconds to make nearly homogeneous.

Add the flour mixture all at once and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together but still looks shaggy, approximately 1 minute. Do not overmix. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand.

Stretch out a long sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface and put the dough on top. Pat into a rectangle, wrap tightly, and refrigerate until chilled throughout, at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.

Unwrap the dough, place on a work surface lightly dusted with flour, and cut in half. Leave at room temperature until the dough has warmed up but is still slightly cool to the touch.

Put a sheet of parchment paper the same dimensions as a half sheet (13x18-inch) pan on the work surface and dust lightly with flour. Put one dough half on top.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough half into a rectangle approximately 10 by 11 or
12 inches and 1⁄4-inch thick or slightly under. If the edges become uneven, push the edge of a bench scraper against the dough to straighten out the sides. To keep the dough from sticking to the parchment paper, periodically dust the top lightly with flour, cover with an additional piece of parchment paper, and, sandwiching the dough between both sheets of parchment paper, flip the dough and paper over. Peel off the top layer of parchment paper and continue to roll.

Ease the dough and parchment paper onto a half sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining dough half and stack it on top. Cover with a piece of parchment paper and refrigerate the layers until firm, approximately 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 325°F. Line a couple of half sheet pans with parchment paper.

Let the dough sit at room temperature for up to 10 minutes. Invert the dough onto a work surface and peel off the top sheet of parchment paper. Roll a dough docker over the dough or pierce it numerous times with a fork. Using a 2-inch round cutter, punch out the cookies. Reroll the dough trimmings, chill, and cut out more cookies.

Put the cookies on the prepared sheet pans, evenly spacing up to 16 cookies per pan.

Lower the oven to 300°F. Bake one pan at a time for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake until the cookies feel firm and hold their shape when touched, 7 to 10 minutes more. Let the cookies cool completely on the sheet pans. Repeat with the remaining pan.

Fill the Cookies: To make the purée, break up the bananas into chunks with your hands. In a small, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, cook the bananas, sugar, water, and lemon juice until the bananas are soft enough to crumble when nudged with a spoon, 5 to 7 minutes. Do not caramelize the bananas.

Purée the warm bananas and liquid in a food processor until smooth. While still warm, pour the purée into a storage container and place plastic wrap on top so it is touching the purée (this helps minimize oxidation). Refrigerate until chilled.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter briefly on medium speed for 5 to 
10 seconds. Add the sugar and beat until the butter mixture is aerated and pale in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the frosting together. Mix in the vanilla bean seeds, vanilla extract, and salts until evenly incorporated. Fold the banana purée into the frosting until evenly incorporated. Fold in the butterscotch until evenly incorporated.

Fit a pastry bag with the Ateco tip #804 and fill with the frosting.

Make pairs of similar-sized cookies. Turn half of the cookies over. Holding the pastry bag at a 90-degree angle in the center of the cookie, pipe a “bubble” of frosting, leaving a border on the sides. Top each filled cookie with a second cookie and press lightly to adhere.

Put the cookies on a parchment-lined sheet pan and refrigerate until the frosting has set, approximately 30 minutes.

Finish the Cookies: Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper. Dip the top of each sandwich cookie into the bittersweet chocolate, shake off the excess, and place face up on the prepared pans. With an offset spatula or a spoon, drizzle the Dulcey Chocolate on top in quick strokes.

Recipe Notes

  • You can make your own caramelized white chocolate following our recipe here (make the recipe up until adding the milk; do not add milk).

Reprinted with permission from Cookie Love by Mindy Segal with Kate Leahy, copyright © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

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