I have never been a huge cookie fan. It is not that I don’t like them but there are so many other sweets I tend to prefer. Chocolate! Pretty much anything chocolate does it for me. Enter the one super special cookie that does reside at the top of my list for favorite sweets…The Chocolate Haystack Cookie!
Have you ever heard of it? The name doesn’t imply much other than it is about as eye catching as a pile of hay plopped on the ground. It is the flavor. The texture. The ease of preparing. The little tweaks you can make in flavor to give it a pop. These are what really make the Haystack a simple and delectable treat.
The story makes them taste better…
Before we get into the ease of making these little guys, the story behind the cookie is also why I hold them close to my heart. As a young girl I spent a good deal of time at my Nana’s house. She had a few favorites treats that she liked to make or at least these are the three that my childhood memories revolve around.
Peanut butter fudge was my brother and Uncle’s favorite. My Nana’s banana bread was my favorite so she would turn it into a birthday cake in the shape of a beautiful lamb (because who wouldn’t want a lamb birthday cake, right?!) And the third was the boiled cookie.
Sounds appealing, right? The name doesn’t do it justice. Regardless of the name, my dad loves this cookie. The name does sum up the cooking method. These boiled cookies are a snap to make especially if you want to whip up a cookie in the summer without turning on the oven.
I remember watching my Nana makes these cookies. She had the recipe written on a card or paper that she had attached to the inside of a cupboard in the kitchen. My favorite part was when she pulled the pot off the stove and we quickly had to scoop out the chocolatey-oaty-coconuty goodness and plop them onto the waxed paper. You had to do this step with haste before the mixture stiffened up.
For years my Nana was the only source of these cocoa rich delights…until my Dad met my now step-mom, Beverly. I was around eleven or twelve and this new woman enters the picture. At some point (my memory isn’t perfect) Beverly starts talking about making one of her cookies called the haystack. Nana was my Dad’s mom so he had grown up with the boiled cookie.
Anyways, after much talk, Beverly makes these so-called Haystack cookies. Guess what? The chocolate haystack cookie was the exact same thing as our beloved boiled cookie. Maybe that was one of the many reasons my Dad eventually married Beverly. It was a sign. Wink wink!
I never got the exact recipe from my Nana, but Beverly wrote hers out on a card and gave it it me as a gift. A very special gift which I will always hold close to my heart.
Although the recipe I use now is from Beverly, every time I make the Haystack I think of my Nana. Then, I think of Beverly who helped teach me how to bake. There are so many memories and connections that exist because of this one simple cookie. Maybe that is why it is one of my favorites…
For the “baking” part…
As I mentioned this cookie is not baked like most cookies. All you need is your stove and a decent sized pot. A wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula. Wax paper. A scooping device such as a tablespoon or ice cream scoop. Strong will power to not lick spoon every time you scoop a cookie on to the paper.
The recipe is pretty simple to follow as long as you don’t overcook the mixture on stove. You know this happened if your mixture seizes up too quickly once you add the oats and coconut. Butter, sugar, cocoa, and milk all go into the pot on the stove for the “boiled” part. I melt the butter into the milk and then I add the sugar and cocoa. Let the mixture come to a rolling boil and add in the vanilla and salt. Remove from heat and add in remaining ingredients (oats, coconut, etc.).
Using your scooping device of choice you will scoop out golf ball size lumps and place on wax paper.
From here, the simplistic magic of the haystack will take place. The creamy texture that the mixture had while hot will slightly stiffen adding a dense chew. I can’t quite describe the texture but it reminds me of the first time I tried halva. Not crumbly. Not creamy. Not crunchy. Just right.
Wait, I think you need to get a little closer so you can start to drool..
The cookies are sweet but the darkness of the cocoa is balanced out by the sugar. The coconut and oats work beautifully together. My step-mom’s recipe calls for nuts such as walnuts or pecans, but we do not use since my son has a tree nut allergy.
Now, if you want to add some flare to your basic chocolate haystack cookie, there are a few variations we have tried and others I want to try. Peanut butter or peanuts is a classic favorite in our peanut butter OBSESSED (two PB fudge recipes) family. Peppermint extract or peppermint candy also adds a lovely Christmas flavor. I want to try a mocha play on the haystack by adding some coffee or ground espresso to the mixture. I will have to update you once I have tried…
Don’t forget…the best part is always licking the spoon during clean up. If you have any kiddos around, I am sure they would be eager to help you out. These are my assistants and they are always willing to lend a hand (or tongue.)
For now, I hope you find yourself addicted to the flavor and texture of the chocolate haystack just as my family and I have over the years! These simple little haystacks have lots of love to give 🙂
I love and miss you, Nana!
- 4 oz unsalted butter
- 6 tbsp cocoa powder preferrably alkalized (dutched processed)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- dash sea salt
- 2 1/2 cups Quick cooking oats
- 1 1/4 cup coconut, shredded and unsweetened I use Bob's Red Mill
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts See Note
- In medium pot over medium-low heat, add in butter and milk. Gently stirring to prevent from burning.
- When butter has melted, add the cocoa and sugar into milk and butter mixture.
- Continue to stir over medium-low heat while sugar dissolves. Leave pot on stove until mixture comes to a rolling boil. Stirring frequently to prevent burning.
- Once mixture has come to a gentle rolling boil, add in the vanilla and salt. Stir.
- After mixing in vanilla and salt, remove from heat and stir in oats, coconut, and nuts (if you are using.)
- Stir until well combined, then using a scooping device (tbsp measure or ice cream scoop are my usual go-to's) scoop out golf ball sized scoops and plop them down on wax paper.
- Leave cookies until cool and dry. You should be able to pick up haystack looking cookie from wax paper once they are cool and dry.
- Try to eat just one...I dare you! Enjoy!
Merry Christmas and Enjoy!