You know those recipes we hold near and dear to our hearts? This series is an opportunity to wax poetic about them. Today, we’re talking about no-bake cookies. Former associate editor Rochelle Bilow’s mother’s no-bake chocolate peanut butter cookies, to be exact. They truly are the greatest recipe of all time. Here’s why.
There’s a reason kids (and, let’s be honest, parents) hoard Reese’s peanut butter cups after a night of trick-or-treating. There's a reason salted peanuts are pure dynamite on top of a hot fudge sundae and peanut butter pie is better with a hidden layer of ganache. And there’s a reason my mother’s classic no-bake cookies are the greatest recipe of all time. Because when it comes to big, bold flavor combinations, chocolate and peanut butter truly take the cake. Err, cookies.
Salty, creamy peanut butter is a perfect foil to bittersweet chocolate. The chocolate keeps the nut butter from tasting too rich, while the peanut butter counters the chocolate with a fat, rounded note. This combo works. We know this and embrace it. My mother knew it too, and for years, kept this easy recipe as an ace up her sleeve for emergencies. Not only did she know how to combine chocolate and peanut butter in perfect proportion, she could get a serving from the pan to our bellies in 30 minutes flat—15 if she employed the help of the freezer.
Once word got out about her no-bake cookies, they were requested for everything from slumber parties with friends to soccer games and theatre rehearsals to "Oh no, we forgot about dessert!" moments after dinner. (Admittedly, we rarely forgot about dessert after dinner.) I’d be willing to bet you’ve eaten a version of these before (maybe you called them no-bake oatmeal cookies or chocolate-peanut-butter oatmeal drops). But, if you haven’t, get ready to meet your new favorite cookie.
Not only do they make good use of the chocolate–peanut butter connection, they’re also packed with chewy oats, spiked with vanilla, and unapologetically simple. There’s not a laundry list of ingredients: Just PB, chocolate, oats, sugar, salt, vanilla, milk, and melted butter—that’s right, you don’t even have to wait around for the milk and butter to come to room temperature. They’re also naturally gluten-free (just make sure to use certified gluten-free oats if that’s a concern for you).
Mom’s no-bake cookies are perfect in every way and they’re a perfect recipe to keep on hand for an easy dessert or snacking emergency. That said, you should feel free to modify it to your taste. You’ll need creamy, not crunchy peanut butter (but if the chunky stuff is all you’ve got, a whiz in the food processor will make it silky-smooth). Not a PB fan? Use almond butter or, for a nut-free version, sunflower seed butter. For a more intense chocolate flavor, boost the cocoa measurement from 2 to 3 Tbsp., or for richer, chewier cookies, use half white sugar and half brown sugar. And while my family believes whole milk is the only way to go, you could swap in whatever nondairy milk you keep on hand, like oat or almond milk and trade the butter for margarine or coconut oil.