One of my favorite Christmas traditions is making several batches of no-bake chocolate/oatmeal/peanut butter cookies a week or two before Christmas and distributed them to all the hungry little elves who are slaving away trying to make Christmas good for everyone. They are always a crowd-pleaser at pot-lucks too. I don’t know what they are called, but I inherited the recipe from a sister-in-law back in the eighties so we refer to them as her cookies, but you could call them Santa’s favorites.
I don’t make them any other time of year, just at Christmas, although with the chocolate they would be suitable for Valentine’s Day too. It’s hard to justify the calories, but they do contain some good-for-you ingredients, like oatmeal (for lowering cholesterol), milk (source of calcium), peanut butter (for protein) and cocoa (source of antioxidants), even if there is a fair bit of sugar in the recipe. I find good old-fashioned grocery store Fry’s cocoa works best, as the one year I tried a fancy imported French brand, they were way too chocolaty, so I needed to add less. (Note: some versions of this recipe only use 1/4 cup cocoa but I’ve always used 1/3 cup of Fry’s, so you could adjust to your taste if you have a richer cocoa.)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup Peanut Butter
2 cups white sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup milk
3 cups oatmeal (rolled minute oats)
2 tsp (10ml) vanilla
Mix sugar and cocoa in a pan. Add butter and milk and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. When it starts to boil, boil 1 to 1 1/2 minutes exactly. This is a full boil, not just a few bubbles. Do not under boil as the mixture will not set properly after you add the other ingredients.
As the chocolate mixture has to be boiled in a pan on the stove, these cookies are not suitable for kids to make. Santa’s little helpers could help measure the ingredients though.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, peanut butter and rolled oats in that order. I use Crunchy peanut butter as that’s what I buy, but Smooth is okay too.
Once you have added the peanut butter to the boiling chocolate mixture and whisked it through, and then added the oatmeal, you have to work quickly to scoop out the mixture before it sets. Drop by teaspoon onto wax paper or non-stick baking pans. Let cool thoroughly. Makes 24 cookies. Keep them in an airtight container. If they dry out too much after a few days, you can zap them in the microwave for ten seconds to make them moist again.
Some batches turn out drier than others, depending if I have let it boil too long, but it doesn’t affect the overall taste. It’s all good. They can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge, or frozen for later.
I usually keep a batch in the freezer and defrost when needed, even it it’s just one cookie as a treat with a cup of tea before bed. Heating them up in the microwave for about ten seconds makes them even better as there’s nothing like a warm chocolate cookie. Don’t forget to leave some out for Santa!