Greatest Grampa’s Cookies

My Grampa is almost 85, so I guess you could say he’s the man who has just about everything.
…But there is one thing he never forgets to ask for; these cookies:

I’m so glad that I could find something that he really loves. I’m sure he’s tasted a few great things, so I’m pretty flattered. We have always made the trip up to see him and Greatest Nana after the holidays. Recently in addition to celebrating, the kids and I often pack along a few things to stock their freezer with into the New Year.
Even though I’m sure he knows what he’s getting. Along with the soups and staples, the care package wouldn’t be complete without these little surprises. Just to be festive, I’ve fancied them up a bit with hazelnut butter. I really hope he likes them.


1 1/2 Cups Unbleached, All Purpose Flour, sifted
1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder, sifted
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Margarine
1/2 Cup Vegetable Shortening
1 Ripe Banana, very well mashed
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 Cup White Sugar


1/2 Cup Hazelnut Butter (Almond or peanut butter may be substituted.)
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar, packed

Mix the hazelnut butter and 1/4 Cup of brown sugar together in a small bowl until well combined and creamy; set aside.
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and soda into a medium sized bowl.
Peel and mash the banana very well, eliminating most of any lumps.
In a large bowl or using an electric stand mixer, combine the margarine, shortening and banana; mixing well.
Add the 3/4 Cup of brown sugar along with the white sugar and vanilla extract; blending until creamy.
Add the sifted ingredients in two batches, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary to just combine.
Chill the dough for a minimum of 1/2 hour or until firm enough to hold a spoon.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Begin shaping dough into 1 1/2″ diameter balls, placing them, well spaced, onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Slightly flatten balls and make a well in the center with your thumb.
Top the depression with a heaping teaspoon, or enough to fill the space, of the hazelnut filling.
To seal, make additional balls of dough about 1″ in diameter and flatten completely to cover and enclose the filled cookies beneath.
Bake for about 12 – 15 minutes; until firm with crisp edges.
Allow the cookies to rest and cool 1 – 2 minutes before transferring to a rack.
Repeat with remaining dough.
Makes about 18 cookies.

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I'm a chef, food stylist, cancer survivor, recipe developer, art director and photographer. My obsession for food, how it looks and makes me healthier has driven my passion for chronicling my journey through photos. Find more about me on: or my portfolio at:

11 thoughts on “Greatest Grampa’s Cookies”

  1. My 90-year-old grandfather also requests lots of my sweet-treats!! Those Chocolate-Hazelnut Surprise Cookies sound like a winning recipe for ALL grandfathers!! :0)

  2. Wunderbar! I’ll have to try these out very soon. And I think its great that you recommend IN DEFENSE OF FOOD (the more informed we are the better)…it’s on my book list.

  3. What exactly does the banana do? I am unfortunately allergic to bananas, and I really want to try this recipe! Do you know of anything I could replace it with?

  4. The banana is the binding ingredient that replaced the egg in a traditional recipe. That said, some of the other egg replacers, equaling one egg, you could use would be are the standard (Ener-g), ground flax seed with water, apple sauce, or 1/4 cup silken tofu.
    This recipe was tested with the banana, so I know that it works and any hint flavour is good with the chocolate…
    My first suggestion would be the egg replacer. If you try it, please let me know. I’d love to know how it all turns out!

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