While it’s true there is no baking involved for these classic cookies, there is cooking and the necessity of taking care with boiling hot syrup, especially when it bubbles and spits as the vanilla is added. Constant attention at the stove is vital to avoid a burned mess for a cookie that doubles as a candy with the health benefit of lots of oatmeal.
Recipe and directions: Put 1/2 cup milk, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup butter and 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder into a heavy saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the butter melts, then whisk the mixture as you bring it to a full-rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute, still stirring, then remove from heat.
Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter (some folks like crunchy), 1/8 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons of vanilla to the hot chocolate syrup. Take care! Whisk it until the peanut butter no longer shows.
Add 3 cups OLD-FASHIONED oatmeal (not the quick/instant kind and definitely not the steel-cut kind) if your saucepan is big enough to hold it all. Otherwise pour the chocolate/peanut butter mixture over the oats in a big bowl.
Let it cool for a few minutes so the oatmeal can absorb some of the goo. Then use an ice cream scoop (for ease) or a salad spoon to drop the mixture onto a cookie sheet with a layer of waxed paper on it. (Parchment can be used if the cook wants to drop the very hot “dough” rather than wait a few minutes as it cools enough to sit on waxed paper.)
Put the cookies on the sheet(s) into the fridge to set. Then put in airtight container and wait a day to eat them until the oatmeal has fully absorbed the moisture from the syrup.
This recipe makes 18 big cookies or the cook can take the time to make smaller ones.
(Photo from a special series. There’s actually two happy bees in this photo.)