So, you want to whip up a batch of delicious cookies but your oven is already being used for a roast? Or maybe your hankering for cookies comes while you’re at a cabin or campsite and all you have is a stove? Or worst of all, maybe your oven is broken and the bake sale is starting this afternoon?
None of that is problem, says chef and food writer Angela Latimer of Bake It with Love, not when you can make superlative "tender fudge-y delights" with no baking needed. If you have the cooking hardware needed to bring a pot to a boil, you can whip up a batch of these delectable cookies in all of about 30 minutes, and the majority of that time is simply devoted to letting them set.
One thing to note well here: Unlike with baking cookies where the time in the oven can be flexible by a minute or two here or there, timing is everything in this recipe. Once you have that sweet, buttery, chocolatey syrup at a boil, Latimer says: "It’s seriously exactly one minute at a rapid boil (steady bubbling, not bubbling over). Under one minute and your cookies won’t set. Over one minute, and you’ll have dry no-bake cookies."
Gather your ingredients for these no-bake cookies
You likely have most of the ingredients you need to make these no-bake cookies on hand already. If you don’t, it’s a good idea to get them and make your first few batches exactly according to the recipe before you try any substitutions or exclusions, says Latimer. "I don’t suggest substitution with the base syrup ingredients. Otherwise, it’s a different cookie, and you can run into problems with the syrup not setting correctly."
You’ll need one cup butter (salted), a cup of milk, four cups of sugar, a half cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, two teaspoons of vanilla extract, one cup of creamy peanut butter ("I have had problems with natural peanut butter preventing a good set on the cookies too," warns Latimer), and six cups of oats. Note that "quick oats are best, while old fashioned can be used. Instant oatmeal or steel cut oats are not recommended."
Get your syrup boiling for these no-bake cookies
Remember how we talked about precise timing? It’s time for that focus on timing. Combine the butter, milk, sugar, and cocoa powder in a large saucepan, Dutch oven, or a small stock pot large enough to hold all of the oats, and heat the syrup over medium-high heat, stirring frequently while the butter melts.
Once the butter for these no-bake cookies has melted, bring the syrup to a rolling boil. (The ideal rolling boil will bubble rapidly without overflowing. Adjust your stovetop temperature as needed to prevent the syrup from boiling too rapidly, and lift your saucepan from the heat, if needed.)
As soon as you get a good solid rolling boil, set a timer and cook the syrup for one full minute. Not more, and not less!
Stir in the rest of the no-bake cookies ingredients
As soon as that minute is up, remove the saucepan from the heat. Now, quickly stir in the vanilla extract and creamy peanut butter, mixing until both are fully incorporated into your chocolate syrup. Then, quickly stir in the six cups of oats and mix everything around until all the oats are thoroughly coated with the chocolate mixture and the blend is even.
Then, if you haven’t already, quickly lay out wax paper or parchment paper on a few baking sheets or just on clean, flat surfaces that you don’t need to access for a while.
Dollop out the no-bake cookies
Drop the cookie mixture in heaping tablespoon amounts onto that waxed paper or parchment paper, leaving about one inch of spacing between each dropped cookie. Now you can use your fingers or a mold to make the still-highly malleable cookies into the shape you want. Just note that the thicker the cookie, the longer it will take longer to set firmly.
Leave the cookies at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to set or longer if it’s warm where you are. (You can speed things along with a fridge if need be.)
Now serve and enjoy, no baking needed. And you can store your no-bake cookies in an airtight container for a week as long as you use parchment paper sheets between layers. Also, they will store refrigerated for two weeks or frozen for up to three months.