Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fancy No-Bake Cookies and Loving School Lunch

As a child,  Mom's meals reflected what she knew, German food. She was a wonderful cook baking German tortes and breads, simmering red cabbage with apples and cloves, frying dinnerplate-size schnitzel, making sauces; ..."gravy is for people who can't make sauce", one of her many verbal culinary jabs at southernisms she didn't quite understand. All delicious but not the dishes our neighbors were eating.

It was the elementary school cafeteria that gave me my first tastes of American food, greens & vinegar, fried bologna (cowboy hats) and mashed potatoes, meatloaf doused in a ketchup topping, ruby-red stewed tomatoes, and no-bake cookies. So delicious were the smells coming from the Falls Mills Elementary cafeteria that it was difficult to concentrate on schoolwork and as lunch period approached, the smells became more distinct. It was easy to pick out the pungent smell of mixed greens, the ketchup-y topping of meatloaf, and hamburgers had a smell all their own. But it was the no-bake cookie that had my heart.

Ah, the no-bake cookie. It wasn't until adulthood that I discovered the recipe for this childhood treat. Because I had no background for making it, I admit, I messed it up several times. It requires candy making skill and we didn't make candy at home. 

Recently, having a hankering for no-bake cookies caused me to do what I do best, fiddle with the recipe. And fiddle I did until I conjured up:  Fancy No-Bake Cookies. Notice, only three ingredients, easy...and fancy.

Fancy No-Bake Cookies

Makes: One 8" x 8" dish

From L to R: Prepared ganache, natural peanut butter, oats

2 cups ganache, recipe follows
1 cup commercially prepared peanut butter (Jif) OR
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
3 cups 1 minute oats

Put ganache, and peanut butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Stirring constantly, mix the two ingredients until thoroughly warmed and combined. Remove from heat.
Stir in oats. Immediately spread in a buttered 8" x 8" glass dish. Refrigerate about 2 hours until set.

TIP: After stirring in oats, drop cookies onto a parchment-lined baking sheet by spoonfuls. Warm as needed in order to drop the entire batch.
Natural peanut butter makes the cookies softer than commercially prepared peanut butter. Knowing this, add more as you like. 
Lastly, these aren't as sweet as the classic, so you may add 1/2 to 1 cup powdered sugar while melting the ganache and peanut butter together PLUS a 1/4 cup of heavy cream to smooth it out.


1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream

Melt chips in a double boiler. Warm heavy cream in a separate saucepan. When chips are melted, slowly stir in cream. Cool at room temperature. Use as desired.

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