As the holidays draw near, I feel like I have two sticks of butter softening on my counter at all times, and I'm always on the verge of heating my oven to 350 F to bake cookies. But it's also this time of year that the oven tends to be in high demand, perhaps put to work to roast a squash or a big piece of meat.
But you know, even if the oven is occupied, we still need to have cookies.
So in between making the kinds of cookies that get rolled and baked and decorated, we can — and should — find time for a batch of haystack cookies. Haystacks are one of the quintessential no-bake cookies in the lexicon of treats, and for very good reason. They are delicious. They are easy. They offer up such great crunch.
Chow mein noodles? Seriously? Seriously! And pretzels! And chocolate, of course!
You could try these with semisweet chocolate chips for another flavor twist, and you also could use lightly crushed cocktail peanuts instead of the pretzels. To crush pretzels, place them in a sturdy zip-close plastic bag, press out the air, seal it, and give it a few smacks with your fist. Don't crush them into a powder; you want some pieces and texture.
No-bake haystack cookies
These treats would be right at home as part of any platter of holiday cookies. A clever cook might bring them to a cookie swap and leave with a selection of more labor intensive treats in exchange for some of these ridiculously simple, but highly addictive cookies. Store these in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days, or at room temperature for two days. If chilled, allow to come to room temperature before eating.
Start to finish: 1 hour (10 minutes active)
Makes 20 cookies
12-ounce bag (2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
6-ounce package chow mein noodles (about 3 1/2 cups)
1 cup lightly crushed thin pretzels
Line 2 baking sheets with kitchen parchment or waxed paper.
In a small saucepan over medium-low, heat about 1 inch of water until barely simmering. Remove the pan from the heat and set a large heat-safe bowl over it. Add the chocolate chips and stir until melted. Alternatively, place the chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl and melt in the microwave on medium power, stopping the microwave and giving the chips a stir every 15 seconds, until they are melted.
Remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the heat and stir in the peanut butter until well combined. Add the noodles and the pretzels to the chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Drop the mixture by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet. Allow to set until firm, about 30 minutes. In warmer months this is best done in the refrigerator, but let them sit at room temperature for several minutes before serving.
Nutrition information per cookie: 140 calories; 70 calories from fat (50 percent of total calories); 8 g fat (3.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 135 mg sodium; 19 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 10 g sugar; 2 g protein.