Patty enjoys cooking for family and friends. She creates simple and satisfying treats from old family recipes.
AKA Haystacks, Preacher Cookies, Fudgies
Vintage recipes like this one were a favorite in the Pennsylvania Dutch homes of my childhood. These peanut butter and chocolate treats have also been referred to as haystacks, preacher cookies, and fudgies, but with slight variations. They were called preacher cookies because housewives made them when the preacher dropped by unannounced. The recipe could be assembled quickly with just the ingredients in the cupboard.
I have seen some recipes for no-bake cookies made with coconut and some that use crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy peanut butter, but they are all the same sweet treat created on the stovetop and ready for eager hands in 30 minutes or less.
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- 1/2 cup / 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup Hershey's cocoa
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 3 cups quick oats
Why Use Evaporated Milk?
When my mother made no-bake cookies, she used canned evaporated milk instead of whole milk. The condensed milk gave the cookies a creamier, richer taste than whole milk because the water is removed from canned milk.
Mom stocked up on canned milk at the grocery store because it was easier to store than whole milk and could sit on the kitchen shelf for months without spoiling.
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Beyond baking though, my parents used undiluted canned milk in their coffee and because there was no whole milk in the house, we used it on our cereal as well.
- Mix the butter, evaporated milk, sugar, and cocoa together in a saucepan.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and continue at a full rolling boil for 2 minutes.
- Remove from the stove and add the vanilla and peanut butter. Stir until the peanut butter is completely melted and mixed in.
- Add the quick oats and stir quickly until coated.
- Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper or a sheet of plastic wrap and allow to cool. If the cookie mixture begins to harden too quickly, stir in a little more milk to soften before dropping onto the waxed paper.
A Great Bake Sale Addition
I made a batch of these no-bake cookies last weekend and once they were cool enough, I put a half dozen in a little bag and took them next door. My neighbor's eyes lit up when I handed the treats to him and I predicted that the cookies would be gone within the hour.
These quick-to-make treats disappear fast at fund-raisers. In south-central Pennsylvania, a bake sale is not complete without a few dozen of these chocolate treats.
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© 2022 Patty Poet