First things first.
Sorry, movie star-Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence. This cookie isn't named after you.
This cookie is for my dear friend and our son's godmother who just happens to have the same name.
The two Jennifers do have some things in common. Most obviously and superficially, they are both blonde, attractive and some might say, quirky.
Although I loved Actress-Jennifer as Roslyn in American Hustle last year, our Jennifer is special to us in a way that cannot be compared. If regular folks could win Oscars for being themselves, she'd have plenty of those golden statues.
I met Jennifer twelve years ago when I walked into the first class of our Master's-level clinical psychology program at Antioch University. I don't quite remember if I sat down next to her or if she sat next to me but we ended up alongside one another for the remainder of our program as our cohort moved through courses and out into the community toward clinical training, eventually completing our preparation to become therapists.
Training to be a clinician is, not to mince words, grueling. There are things you have to look at inside yourself that you might rather ignore. The coursework isn't always easy. The three-thousand hours of supervision by a licensed clinician before you can even sit for the first of the two exams you need to pass in order to become licensed can seem endless.
Most cases do not match up to those we might have read about in school. They seem more difficult, extreme or ungraspable. If you have someone you can lean on like I did with Jen, it's that much easier.
Both Jennifer and I have now been on the other side of all that for a while now. Though we've taken different paths, with her continuing on as an amazingly empathetic and attuned therapist, I've gone another route which allows me to sit here writing this now.
Life sometimes serves up problems that can seem insurmountable, moments that taste so bitter or otherwise unpalatable that we try to spit them out as soon as we get a taste.
If you cook, as I do, you know that it is all about balancing sweet and sour, salty and bitter (and yes, let's not forget umami), with it being not merely cooking or food, but life itself.
Jennifer's been going through some big transitions and facing challenges that might seem more on the bitter and sour end of things. So, I wanted to make her these cookies to remind her that better, sweeter times lay just ahead.
There is no wheat gluten in this cookie since Jennifer is gluten-sensitive. It is sweetened only by super-ripe bananas and the addition of chocolate chips. The cookie is free of eggs and is bound together by a bit of coconut flour. Oats and finely shredded, unsweetened coconut give the cookie texture, especially when the ragged edges turn golden.
The chocolate here has a back story. Last year when my 23-year-old nephew, Matt, flew here for Thanksgiving from Antwerp, his hometown, his suitcase was empty except for chocolate. Which is to say, it was completely full, packed to bursting with chocolate of all sorts - dark and bittersweet, white and milk, milk chocolate with hazelnuts.
Then there was the bag of Callebaut dark chocolate chips in that suitcase. Forget how much it weighed. Let me just say, no wonder there was no room for any clothes. Yes, someone hauling that much chocolate to you from an ocean and continent away is what you call love.
Well, I used some of that Callebaut here. It makes this cookie extra-special, I think. Delicious, just sweet enough, and rich with the little nibbles of chocolate goodness.
Jen, I hope you like these.
Here's to sweeter times ahead. xxoo
Jennifer Lawrence's Banana Oat Chip Cookies
3 large, very ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 Tablespoons coconut oil, just warmed so it’s not solid
2 cups rolled oats*
¼ cup coconut flour
1/3 cup coconut, shredded & unsweetened
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, placing racks in the top third of oven. Place parchment paper or Silpat liners on cookie sheets.
In a large bowl, mix together the bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Set aside. In a separate bowl whisk together the oats, coconut flour, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
You will notice that this dough is a bit looser than most cookie doughs. Squeeze 1-2 teaspoons of dough at a time between your hands and place on a cookie sheet an inch apart. These cookies are best on the smaller side. Alternatively, drop dollops (1-2 teaspoons) of the doughan inch apart, onto your cookie sheets. Bake for about 14 - 18 minutes. I bake these as long as possible to have golden-brown bottoms and tops. In my oven that is about 18 minutes.
Makes about 3 dozen bite-sized cookies.
*Note: Use rolled oats labeled 'gluten-free' to ensure that they have not been processed in a plant that also processes gluten-containing products.
Recipe adapted from 101cookbooks.com.