Last night as I looked out my dining room window at the kids sledding down our enormous road blanketed with cottony white snow, I was taken back to my own childhood riding down Nanny’s hill on our old wooden toboggan until it was too dark to see. We would trudge up the hill, sleds in tow, to the porch and peel off the hundreds of layers of long johns, sweatshirts and thermal padding required to keep Vermont children playing outside in the dead of winter semi-warm. Though, who am I kidding, kids don’t get cold even if they are blue. The best part of coming in was knowing there was a big kettle of warm milk on the stove for hot chocolate and a batch of the best cookies ever- no-bake chocolate oatmeal drop cookies.
In the South they call them Preacher cookies, but growing up we knew them as Aunt Julie’s cookies. I could always count on Aunt Julie making something yummy for Christmas, birthdays and any other holiday. She believed in homemade gifts and went to great lengths to make them special. Every year at Christmas I knew I would get some luxurious homemade soaps, cozy scented candles and delicious jars of homemade confections. Her peanut butter fudge was legendary, but her chocolate oatmeal drop cookies held my heart. Aunt Julie was never stingy with her knowledge. Weekends in the summer I would stay with her and she would teach me all about soap and candle making and the finer points of candy making. I am not sure I could still make a candle or bar of soap, but each year for Christmas Liv and I make jars of cookies and candies in homage to her. We spend hours tempering chocolate, making peanut butter fillings and creating just the right fudge consistency. But, just like my younger self, my children always request the chocolate oatmeal drop cookies.
Watching the kids outside frolicking in the snow with our huge golden retriever, I knew what Liv would need when she came in. I took out my copper-bottom pot and filled it with fresh milk to start heating. Mugs were filled with cocoa powder, sugar and a touch of cinnamon. I made Liv some warm hot chocolate just like Nanny used to for me when I would come in after a hard day of sledding. The only other thing she would need? Aunt Julie’s chocolate oatmeal drop cookies to munch with her hot chocolate in front of the fireplace.
This is maybe one of the easiest recipes ever, but it must be followed exactly. I have tried to make a double batch, not use a timer, change the peanut butter and it always fails. Now I just stick to the way Aunt Julie made them and they are right every time.
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s)
1/2 cup milk
3 cups quick oats (I use Quaker)
2 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
Melt butter in deep sauce pan. Add cocoa, sugar and milk and boil for 3 minutes. Make sure you set a timer as soon as you see the mixture begin to bubble. Too long on boil and they will be dry, too short a time and they will be sticky and unset. After 3 minutes, remove pan from heat and add oats and peanut butter. When just combined, drop on wax paper to dry. They should be ready to eat in just a couple of minutes.