Wednesday, January 25, 2012

No-Bake Cookies

Did you ever do any cooking or baking with your mom when you were growing up? I didn't cook with my mom a whole lot because our kitchen was pretty small, but I remember going to my friends' houses and trying all sorts of concoctions. Some didn't work so well, like the time we mixed Creme de Menthe and ramen noodles (don't ask). One thing that did work consistently, however, was no-bake cookies. After all, it's kind of hard to burn something in the oven when you don't use an oven! I don't know if you made these when you were growing up, but they are really easy to make and a lot of fun. Here's the basic recipe:

Quick-cooking oats, 3 cups

White sugar, 2 cups

Chunky peanut butter, ½ cup

Unsweetened cocoa powder, ¼ cup

Milk, ½ cup

Margarine, ½ cup

Vanilla extract, 1 tsp

Salt, just a pinch

Mix the milk, sugar, margarine and cocoa into saucepan or small pot. Using medium heat, bring to a boil. While it is cooking, spread waxed paper onto a flat cookie sheet. After about 1 minute, take the pan off of the heat and stir in the salt, peanut butter, vanilla and oats. When you're done, use your spoon to drop the mixture onto the waxed paper and allow it to cool for about an hour. This makes up to 36 cookies, depending on how big your spoonfuls are. Sometimes I'll put them in the refrigerator so I can eat them faster! When you make them, you'll see why!

If you want to experiment a bit, this recipe can be easily modified. For whole-grain lovers, use 1 ½ cup oats and 1 ½ cup muesli (hot and cold whole-grain cereal). Mix the cereals together before you add them, and use an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract.

For another fun tweak:

White sugar, 2 cups

Cocoa powder, 4 tablespoons

Milk, ½ cup

Butter, ½ cup

Smooth peanut butter, ½ cup

Fast-cooking oats, 3 ½ cups

Vanilla extract, 1 tsp

Salt, just a pinch

Note that this says 'butter', not 'margarine', the peanut butter is smooth and the differences in the amount of oats and cocoa powder. Small tweaks, but they make a huge difference.

For people with peanut allergies, here's another variation:

Semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 cup

Butter, 5 tbsp

Vanilla extract, 1 tsp

16 large marshmallows

Quick-cooking oats, 2 cups

Coconut or raisins, 1 cup

Melt the butter, chips and marshmallows in a large pan. Stir in the oats, vanilla and raisins or coconut. Stir and drop by spoonfuls on the wax paper and let cool.

Of course, you can add your own little touches as you see fit-coloring, sprinkles, tiny marshmallows, etc. Half the fun of making these is experimentation! Just do what tastes good; it's not like you are going to set the kitchen on fire or waste a lot of energy if they don't turn out well! Since they don't require a lot of work, you can make them with your kids for a fun 'bonding' experience. Enjoy!

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