There’s something so quintessentially 1970’s about the Peanut Butter No-Bake “Cookie”, this week’s selection for Baked Sunday Mornings. While I’m sure they have older origins, I like to think that these ‘cookies’ were the brainchild of the busy career woman (or man) of the ’70’s who wanted something to satiate their sweet tooth, but didn’t have the time to fuss with a heavy-duty recipe that required use of a mixer and oven. I chuckled when I fell upon this recipe while paging through Baked Explorations. I adore that this was included because it reminds me of that Matt, Renato, and I truly grew up in a similar era and key in to that nostalgia in the kitchen.
While one should hesitate with calling these ‘cookies’, as they require no standard baking or cooking, these confections nonetheless were more like the food of the gods to me than even a chocolate chip cookie when I was a child. One bite, and I am instantly transported back to my days as a 3 or 4 year-old, and my memories are pretty vivid and deep even back that far. I can hear Donny and Marie Osmond or Captain and Tennille playing on the record player, picture dark-panelled walls and mustard-yellow upholstery, and see the funky brown check pattern in my pants (with no rivets, mind you… I had this weird repulsion to pants with rivets which I thankfully got over).
No-bake cookies also conjure up fond memories of one of my favorite aunts – my Aunt Alice, who frequently made these for me when she would babysit me while my mother was at work during the day. She also watched my two older sisters when they weren’t in school, and we were all little devils! She was frequently the brunt of several jokes on behalf of all three of us. Short, spunky, with a Pennsylvanian (born and bred) accent which she still maintains to this very day, Alice was just a load of fun – and a ton of fun to make fun of! She was one of our younger aunts and we just adored her – and I like to believe the adoration was returned, despite the jokes!
For example, back in the late 70’s, my sisters were hell-bent on getting Alice to quit smoking, so whenever she lit up, they would follow her around with cups of water to douse the cigarette whenever she put it down! When my sisters finally went off to school, I spent lots of time with Alice myself, and I like to think I wasn’t as much of a pest as my sisters – though maybe I just wasn’t as creative! Still, I no doubt got under Alice’s feet several times during the day, and to calm me down and keep me occupied, she might occasionally succumb to my begging and make peanut butter no-bake cookies! I remember all of the shiny oatmeal-chocolate ‘blobs’ lined up on sheets on waxed paper on her counter… It took all the strength I had in my 4 year-old soul to wait as patiently as I could for them to cool and solidify before sinking my teeth into them!
The concept behind no-bakes is very simple, indeed – heat up butter, milk, sugar and cocoa until quite warm (and the butter is melted), then stir in peanut butter, oats, and vanilla. You’re done! Drop the mixture onto waxed or parchment paper-lined cookie sheets and allow them to cool and harden. True, they won’t win any beauty contests, and fall more into the category of candy than cookie. Some folks may object to the chewiness of the uncooked oats in these, but I don’t think it’s too much of an issue – if you’re a fan of chocolate and peanut butter, you will find they’re delicious and after a couple of bites, you seriously will think nothing of it. The chewy component is actually a bit necessary for texture.
I used Trader Joe’s unsalted, natural peanut butter (creamy, NOT crunchy as I really can’t eat/have an aversion to nuts), and therefore added a touch more oats to soak up the oil, as Baked suggests when opting for the natural peanut butter. It’s also a matter of preference – I tend to like my no-bake cookies on the thicker, denser side. They can very easily be made thinner, and as a result spread more on the cookie sheet, with less oats. It’s totally up to you. I do feel the kind of peanut butter you choose can also make a difference. The batch I made for this blog (and pictured) was a touch grainer in texture than what I remembered as a kid, and I think it’s because of the natural peanut butter. I feel that they would be much smoother with a peanut butter like Skippy (the peanut butter with fillers, etc. that I typically grab for baking – I know, natural is best, but sometimes you need the other ‘stuff’ for smoothness).
If you’re craving something sweet in a flash, chances are you will have most of the ingredients for these in your kitchen, which is another big plus with this recipe. Unleash your busy-career-woman/man-of-the-1970s-with-no-time-to-bake – or quite possibly you’re a mom/dad/aunt/uncle looking to placate a young child’s sweet cravings – by whipping up these treats! Follow this link for the recipe: http://bakedsundaymornings.com/2012/11/27/in-the-oven-the-no-bake-peanut-butter-cookie, and while you’re at it, say hello to my fellow bakers by checking out their blogs as well!
As for my Aunt Alice, she’s still a trip – and spunky as ever. As we all grew up, we’ve surpassed her in height – she’s always been pretty short – and frequently used her as a ‘measuring stick’ (“Hey, you’re getting taller than Alice!”)! We also laugh when she says she’s from “Oral City” (translation: Oil City), tells us all to “go pound sowlt!” (salt), sings “What Chowd is This” (Child) at Christmas, and states that despite all of our joshing, she has “broad showders” (shoulders). She takes all the kidding in great stride – and I love her dearly. She quit smoking years ago (thankfully!), has run two successful businesses, raised three terrific kids of her own and is now actually enjoying being a grandmother. Thanks, Alice, for the fond memories and all of the amazing no-bake cookies!
One final note: Thank you, all of you, for first of all following and reading my blog, and secondly, for leaving such wonderful comments. I especially enjoyed your thoughts regarding my Baked trip last week for my birthday. I honestly wish I could respond to every one of your comments – and I tried for a while – but some days, it’s just difficult to do. Please know that I read each and every one and adore them. You’re the best! Happy baking!