Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Baking...with No-Bake Cookies?

Happy Friday all! 


So I'll get to those bites of chocolate peanut butter deliciousness in just a minute, but first a little life update from moi. Originally, our movers were supposed to be coming on Monday, I was supposed to work until next Thursday, and we were planning on leaving for Oregon a week from tomorrow. Well we're still leaving for Oregon a week from tomorrow, but now our movers aren't coming until next Wednesday which is awesome because it means I don't have to be separated from all my baking stuff for an entire week during the holidays. Even more awesome? The fact that I was supposed to work until next Thursday, but found out on Monday that this past Tuesday would be my last day of work (due to the fact that something that needed to happen for me to continue working on the project I'd been working on had to get pushed back until after the holidays), which means I've been a free woman since Wednesday! 

While as much as I'd like the extra money from working, it's definitely been a wonderfully unexpected blessing to have 7 extra days of vacation...before we leave to go to Oregon/Michigan for 2 weeks of vacation over the holidays. A hard life, I know. But seriously, as excited as I am to go home and see our families, I know that while we're in Oregon/Michigan we'll be busy trying to see as many people as possible. And while that's great, it's also not exactly restful. That's why I'm so glad I have these extra days now to relax, get my Christmas shopping done, stare at our tree, do some holiday baking, workout (I'm really excited about this actually, on Wednesday I started a 10-day pass to the Bikram yoga studio in Boulder, so I'm planning on sweating it out for the next week before Christmas when I'll probably eat my weight in holiday m&m's), and just soak up the awesomeness that is Colorado before our move to Lake Tahoe.

For me, one of the most important tasks on that list is holiday baking. As you know, I love love love to bake, so the nice thing about the holidays is that it makes it socially acceptable to make dozens and dozens of cookies. On Monday night, Cam and I watched the Charlie Brown Christmas Special on TV (so presh, I love it every year) and I thought it seemed like the perfect night to kick off my Christmas cookie baking. I thought I'd ask Cam what kind of cookies he wanted, and surprisingly his response was no-bake cookies. At first I resisted because I wanted to actually bake cookies, but I decided to oblige because honestly, I love no-bake cookies and I hadn't made them in ages. They're so easy and so good. Here's the recipe I used...

No-Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Cookies

(Adapted from Ezra Poundcake)

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups dry quick-cooking oats, divided (I used old-fashioned and they worked fine, although I do think that quick-cooking oats are better for this recipe)
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used smooth)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, cut into pieces
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons cocoa

Directions
1. Place several sheets of wax paper on your counter or kitchen table.
2. Measure 3 cups of oats, the peanut butter and the vanilla into a large heatproof bowl. Set aside.
3. Place the butter, sugar, milk and cocoa in a small saucepan. Give them a quick stir. Turn the heat on high, and leave the mixture alone. (No more stirring.) Bring the mixture to a full, rolling boil, and let it boil for exactly 1 minute. Remove immediately from the heat, and pour the chocolate mixture over the oats and peanut butter. (I didn't follow these directions exactly, after this mixture boiled for a minute, I just dumped the ingredients from step 2 into the pot and stirred it all together...it worked perfectly fine that way!)
4. Use a large wooden spoon to quickly stir the ingredients together. (If the mixture seems runny or it’s a very humid day, stir in the remaining half-cup of oats.) (I did end up using all 3 1/2 cups of oats)
5. Working with two spoons or a small ice cream scoop, drop the mixture by tablespoons onto the wax paper.
6. Let the cookies cool until set. (I popped mine in the fridge to help them cool faster!)


I love no-bake cookies because they are so simple, and really, when is chocolate and peanut butter ever a bad thing? So maybe you're way ahead of me and have started your Christmas baking and are already on your fifth batch of sugar cookie cutouts. That's cool. You should still make these cookies. And if that's not you and you haven't baked anything, finished your Christmas shopping or wrapped a single present yet (that's me...), then you should definitely make these cookies this weekend because they're the perfect quick chocolate fix to bring some holiday cheer and celebrate the weekend!  Xoxo


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