“Highclere was a symbiotic system, and mutual respect was the key to its success. The fifth Earl prided himself on an Old World courtesy, and that set the tone for the entire household. He took an interest in the well-being of the staff and the cottagers on the estate; often a donation would be made towards a fund for a tenant whose livestock had died, and money was also made available for the staff to have medical treatment.”
-Fiona Aitken (Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey) via NYTimes
Sundays, in my humble opinion, should be about relaxation and restoration. It’s not only the last work-free day of the week, but it’s also the day that dear old Downton Abbey airs. That is enough of a cause for celebration in and of itself. It just changes the whole shape of Sunday; whereas in the past Sunday used to be a day of dread (who, after all, really cares for Monday?), having a show to watch in the evening gives it a little oomph. It’s no longer about evenings frantically spent trying to meet deadlines or having to plan tomorrow’s class; instead, it’s about wondering what I’m going to bake for the Sunday feasts that Downton has given rise to…You see, the Greek and I, plus a friend, gather to watch each week. And, while I’m sure the Greek couldn’t give two hoots as to Mary’s and Matthew’s on-again-off-again romance, my friend and I are diehard “Mattharies.” It’s okay, though; the Greek comes for the battle scenes (it’s just like Tolstoy’s War and Peace all over again; men prefer war and women prefer peace) and more than happily partakes in the feast.
Each week brings a new plot twist and a new recipe to try as well. And, because this Sunday just happens to be World Nutella Day (when this day came into existence I cannot say, but it is real), I’m going to share with you favorite Nutella recipe to date: Banana Nutella Cookies, aka Cookie Crepes.
Before you get too excited, I should mention that the name Cookie Crepes is a misnomer; it’s really just a fanciful way of saying that I’ve captured the magic of my favorite crepe (banana and Nutella, obviously) in a cookie. I mean, imagine it: gooey Nutella and bananas with cinnamon…all in the shape of a cookie. It’s better than a crepe, really. And, even better, infinitely less work.
These cookies are an example of one of my favorite baking strategies–finding a recipe you love and figuring out a way to make it a little personal. And these cookies, in fact, wouldn’t even exist were it not for Sarah of Pink of Perfection and her ingenious Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe) I first tried them last spring when I baked them for a Super Bowl Party (really, all of these linkages are uncanny–Super Bowl, Nutella Day, Downton Abbey; strange and disparate worlds are colliding as I type) and thought they were nothing short of phenomenal. I mean, think of Nutella simply spread on an ordinary piece of bread; its powers are nothing short of amazing. In a cookie, they’re practically unstoppable. And by substituting bananas for eggs, cutting the chocolate chips and more than liberally sprinkling cinnamon on the top and using sea salt, I discovered that I could make them even better. Who knows what the next manifestation of these cookies could be? A thumbprint of strawberry jam? Nutella cookie sandwiches? Downton Abbey had honestly never felt so decadent.
Banana Nutella Cookies (Crepe Cookies)
Inspired by Pink of Perfection’s Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies (link can be found above)
Yields about 5 dozen cookies (I recommend freezing some because you want these little gems to last)
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup Nutella
1 banana, mashed well
1-2 dashes of cinnamon in the cookie dough; plus extra for sprinkling on the top
-Preheat oven to 350°F.
-Stir together flour, baking soda and salt.
-In a large bowl, beat butter (I used a paddle attachment), sugar, and Nutella until creamy.
-Add mashed banana; beat until incorporated.
-Gradually add flour mixture, beating on a low speed.
-Drop by rounded teaspoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
-Bake 15-20 minutes (because of the banana, I found that these cookies took longer to bake) or until the undersides of the cookies are slightly browned and crisp looking.
-Cool on cookie sheet, then transfer to a plate.
-Don’t wait until they’re done cooling before stealing one from the tray. They’re delicious warm and right from the oven.