Thursday, January 7, 2010

Addictive Ugly Cookie Alert: Fair Warning

You know how there are just some foods you shouldn't have anywhere nearby because you just can't not eat them? Yeah, well, these cookies, a favorite in my family when I was growing up, fall into that unfortunate category. They are simply impossible--impossible!--to leave alone. I only make them a Christmastime now, and only then if I can take them to a party and foist them off onto unsuspecting victims (and not have batches lying around my own house, tempting me). I put them on an anonymous plate and walk away, pretending like I have no idea on earth who might have brought them. That way, even if people start eating the cookies and decide that they must have the recipe at all costs, I can save them from themselves by not being forthcoming.

Goodness this good should not be available on a regular basis except for the gods, because mortals can't handle it more than once or twice in a lifetime. Seriously.

In fact, in the interest of public safety, I probably shouldn't ever share this recipe*, but I promised Nell Jean (Secrets of a Seed Scatterer). She did, after all, help me out of a little HTML pickle, and in a moment of weakness, I offered to let her in on the secret. So I'm just saying that if you decide to try these, you proceed at your own risk.

Unbaked Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Combine in a saucepan:

2 cups sugar
1/4 cup Hershey's unsweetened cocoa (don't try to substitute some fancy brand for this)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup milk

Heat on high and stir until the butter is melted and mixture is homogenous, then stop stirring and let it come to a rolling boil for 1 minute.

Remove from heat and add:
3 cups of "quick" rolled oats (the 1 minute kind)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 to 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (depending on how vanilla-y you like your cookies)

Drop spoon-sized cookies on waxed paper and let cool.

1) Have the waxed paper laid out ahead of time and the second set of ingredients measured and ready to add as soon as you pull the saucepan off the heat, because if you have timed the rolling boil correctly, the chocolate will start setting up very quickly.

2) The timing of the rolling boil is critical. If you don't cook the chocolate long enough, if will not set up properly; if you cook it too long, it will set up too quickly and the cookie will be too dry. At higher altitudes, you need to boil it longer. Here at 3200 feet above sea level, I boil the mixture for one minute, ten seconds, and I don't start timing it until it is boiling all the way across the surface.** Even so, half the time I mess up the first batch or two before I get it right. Tricky stuff, chocolate.

3) Don't be scared off by hint Number 2). After all, as I always tell my students, success isn't any fun unless there's a some risk of failure involved. And in this case, you get to eat your failures.

And now, here is what they look like. I've saved the photo for last because, frankly, this is an ugly, ugly cookie and I didn't want to frighten you. That's probably a good thing, though, because then if nobody eats them at the party, mistakenly choosing to go with the flashier cookies instead, you'll be forced to take the remainders home and polish them off yourself.

Well, there you have it, food more properly reserved for the gods. You can't say you weren't warned.

*Actually, it is probably good that I am recording it on the interwebs for posterity's sake, since I am notorious for misplacing the recipe (my healthier subconscious at work?) and usually have to call one of my sisters each time I want to make up a batch and get a fresh copy.

**Many years ago, when I was taking an inorganic chemistry lab course and the success of one of the experiments depended on the timing of a rolling boil of water, I was the only one in the class who actually knew that it was different than just a plain old "starting to boil," and I owed my expertise to the making of these cookies.


  1. Thanks for sharing the recipes -- I can see where these would be one of those can't-leave-them-alone cookies! All the best for 2010!

  2. Wait! I meant
    You. Are. Wicked.
    Thank you.

  3. These make great snacks to eat during long runs. I make them a little smaller than called for (bite-sized) and carry them in a baggie.

  4. Nancy--Thanks, and same to you!


    Dottie--What a great idea! So much better than a gel. Of course, you can afford to use these as long run food, given your amazing mileage.

  5. That was the first cookie I ever learned to make since there's no baking required! We called them catshit cookies (for obvious reasons, just take a look at them). But remember, beauty is only skin deep!

  6. It's oatmeal, which is good for you, it's darkish chocolate, which is good for the heart, it's cookie health food!

  7. I haven't had those since I was a kid. And now I'm doing a cleanse so no sugar. But I will be making them SOON after the cleanse is over. : ) Thanks for the reminder!

  8. Oh, Susan! Goodies! I'm not only going to make these, I'm going to take all these eggs I have and make the Macaroons that use Hershey's cocoa too. I was just reading this week how good for your colon coconut is. Cocoa for your mood, coconut for your gut, Peanut butter and egg whites for protein, oatmeal for reducing cholesterol -- those little bits of sugar and butter and flour can't be all that bad....

  9. Whew, lucky for me I don't like the taste of peanut butter and chocolate combined (call me weird)! They LOOK yummy though!

  10. Boy, those look good and fattening. I was contemplating calculating them into the weight watchers recipe gadget to see how many points each one adds up to but decided that may not make the difference where will power is concerned!

  11. Nola--That's hilarious!

    MMD--That's what I like about you; you're such a dreamer. ;-D

    Debbie--Glad to be of help.

    Nell Jean--Ummm, macaroons.

    Jean--well, you don't really taste the peanut butter, but it's probably better that you don't find that out.

    Heather--You won't be able to eat just one.

  12. Mr. McGregor's daughter pointed out the excellent nutritional content of oatmeal and dark chocolate. I want to add that by using pure organic cane sugar you can make them even healthier.

    :-D :-D


  13. tempted to give these a try but will substitute some sunbutter due to a nut allergy/sensitivity.

    And I like the idea of using them on long runs. No issues burning up calories running for an hour or two at near zero temperatures.

  14. These are also very nice with a bit of cinnamon added. To improve the appearance, my family has always poured the mix into a shallow dish and then cut them into bars/squares after they cool. More like candy bars that way.
    Thanks for reminding me about these...I think I need to go not-bake some.

  15. I love these cookies! They were among the first things I ever made. Thanks for the memory.~~Dee


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