Has it felt like the surface of the sun in your neck of the woods this year? It has certainly been ungodly hot in here in Pittsburgh. Some people bask in the glory of blazing hot summer days. I am not one of those people. For someone who constantly complains about being cold and needs to carry a hoodie into a movie theater in the middle of July, you’d think I’d enjoy a little warmth. A little warmth, yes. Sweltering, disgusting heat and humidity? No thank you. Once we reach more than two days above 90 degrees, I start doing the equivalent of a rain dance, which I can only hope brings about fall weather sooner rather than later. I can’t help it. The heat and humidity make me miserable – I get a headache, get cranky and am generally intolerable. If I could create a climate where it’s in the mid-70’s, sunny and breezy for eight months out of the year and then cold and snowy for November through February, I’d move there in a second. I’m not aware of any such place, so I’ll continue to hide in the air conditioning until it cools down a bit. Although I still do my fair share of baking during the summer, I try to minimize the time spent over the stove and with the oven blasting. Enter the wonder of no-bake cookies and bars!
No-bake recipes are fabulous. They usually require less than 15 minutes of your time, no oven, and are the perfect way to satisfy any instant gratification you require from a sweet treat. If you have kids, these types of recipes are also great to have on hand for quick after-school snacks. Or maybe a bunch of ravenous teenagers end up at your place, ready to eat you out of house and home. They’re also great for mom if you’re in dire need of something sweet, don’t have a lot of time and want something easy. Then these are your best friend.
Feel free to make all sorts of substitutions to this recipe. Use almond or cashew butter, Nutella or Biscoff, different flavors of chocolate chips, etc. You could even stir in chopped nuts, dried fruits or marshmallows at the end. Have fun, be creative, and keep cool these last few weeks of summer!
Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper and set aside. (You can use a 9x13-inch if you want thinner bars.)
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oatmeal, 1 cup of the chocolate chips, the peanut butter and vanilla extract; set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, milk, butter and salt over medium heat. Bring to a full boil (there should be bubbles covering the entire surface) and boil for 2 minutes.
Immediately pour the hot mixture (carefully!) over the oatmeal mixture and quickly stir to combine, ensuring that all of the oatmeal mixture has been moistened. Turn the mixture into the parchment-lined pan and use the back of a spoon to press it evenly into the pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips over top and gently press them into the top of the mixture.
Allow the bars to sit at room temperature to set up, which takes about 30 minutes. Use the edges of the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan and cut into squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Note: Like any no-bake cookie, the final texture of these really depends on how long you boil the sugar mixture. If it doesn't boil long enough, the cookie mixture will be too soft; if you boil too long, they could turn out dry and crumbly. I like to set a timer just to be sure.Nutritional values are based on one serving