Classic haystacks – those delectable no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies from your childhood (with some new tricks to make them foolproof).
Raise your hand if haystacks were a regular occurrence in your childhood lunchboxes – I mean the cookies, not little mounds of barnyard straw.
Me too! Me too! (waving hands wildly).
I think that everyone and their grandma whipped up batches of these no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies whenever they were in the mood for a chocolate fix. Living in the country, we couldn’t run to the corner store for a candy bar if we were craving something sweet, so we had to satisfy our cravings with whatever we had on hand. We tossed a bunch of pantry staples – butter, sugar, milk, cocoa, coconut, oats – into a saucepan and cooked and stirred and plopped and waited . . . and waited . . . and waited . . . and then those haystacks hardened up and we could indulge. (But we always made sure to leave generous amounts of gooey, chocolatey goodness in the pot and on the spatula to lick and nibble while we waited.)
The only problem was that the neighbours always made better haystacks than we did. When other kids brought them in their lunchboxes, the cookies were chewy and chocolatey and whole. (Fancy that!) Ours always seemed to be crumbly and hard (not that it stopped us from eating them – oh, no – we devoured them from a bowl with a spoon when the chunks got too small). Even when I moved out on my own and tried to make haystacks, they never seemed to turn out like they were supposed to. I guessed it had something to do with cooking the fudgy mixture a second or two too long, but I couldn’t get it right, no matter how I monkeyed with the cook time.
Well, this woman (moi, me, ich) has been on a mission. A few months ago I vowed to make a perfect batch of haystacks, and with a secret tip from a friend (thanks, Alex) and numerous repetitions tweaking the cook time (thanks, Andreas, for
scarfing down graciously eating all the not-quite-right batches), I FINALLY GOT IT!
So here is the recipe for delicious, delectable, irresistible, totally-not-healthy (well, there is some fiber in the oats and coconut) No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies. Or you can call them Haystacks, like we always did. My friend’s secret tip was to add a handful of marshmallows to keep the cookies a bit softer, which also allowed me to cut the sugar down from my original recipe. I also added a touch of oil to keep the cookies soft, and my experimentation settled on a cook time of exactly 2 minutes – no more, no less.
No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies – Haystacks
- ½ cup (115gms) butter
- 1½ cups (315gms) sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (120ml) milk (regular or non-dairy)
- 2 cups (80gms) miniature marshmallows or 12 regular marshmallows
- ¼ cup (35gms) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 3 cups (300gms) small-flaked oatmeal (quick oats, not instant oats), gluten free if necessary
- 1 cup (90gms) unsweetened shredded coconut
Measure out the oatmeal and the coconut and set aside. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper or wax paper. If using regular-sized marshmallows, cut each one into quarters with scissors or tear into quarters with your fingers.
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, milk, and salt over medium-high heat. Bring to a full rolling boil, then set the timer and boil the mixture for exactly two minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and add the marshmallows. Stir until they are melted. Add the vanilla and oil, and sift in the cocoa powder (rub it through a small sieve with a spoon). Dump in the oatmeal and coconut. Stir until everything is coated with the chocolate and there are no dry spots left.
Working quickly, drop large spoonfuls of the haystack mixture onto the lined cookie sheets. Use two tablespoons – one to scoop up the mixture and the other to scrape it from the spoon into a neat mound. Use the spoon to pat in any ragged bits so the mounds are relatively neat.
Let set at room temperature until they are firm (this can take 3 to 4 hours or more) or speed up the process by putting the pans into the fridge to firm up.
Makes 24 haystacks.
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