When I was a little girl, my grandfather would take me to visit his older sister – Aunt Lillian. I was very young when my aunt died, and I don’t remember a lot about her. What I do remember, is that I always felt very close to her. I also remember that she was short, she liked to wear house-dresses, and she was always in the kitchen. But what I remember most, were the Chocolate No-Bake Cookies that she would always make for me. I still remember the red tin that she would place in front of me – and I would get so excited!
Eventually, she gave me the recipe, and my grandfather and I made them once – successfully. Shortly after, my Aunt Lillian passed away, and the recipe, somehow, was lost forever.
For years, I would ask my grandfather if he had the recipe, but he’d insist that he gave it to my mom. And Mom would insist that my grandfather still had it. Friends and family members would make recipe suggestions – but they weren’t quite right.
A few weeks ago, I brought the cookies up at dinner – yet again, in what seemed like a futile attempt. But this time, a light seemed to flash on in my grandfather’s head – and he directed my grandmother to a small box in the corner of a kitchen cabinet (where, by the way, he apparently hides his secret recipes for pitzels and wedding soup!). And there it was – on a thin piece of yellowed notepaper, transcribed from memory, in my Aunt Lillian’s handwriting.
Now, I am told that my aunt was a tremendous cook and baker – and by no means were these cookies the greatest thing in her repertoire. But, to me they were. And when I smelled the combination of cocoa, peanut butter, oats and coconut on the stove, it didn’t matter. That first bite brought me back 25 years – to my favorite flavor in the entire world.
I always find it amazing how smells and flavors can unlock memories from long ago. This year, for Christmas, I’m sharing these “cookies” with my friends and family. And as a little holiday gift to our blog readers, I’ve included it below – exactly as Aunt Lillian wrote it.
Enjoy – and Happy Holidays!
Aunt Lillian’s No-Bake Chocolate Cookies
Put into a pan…
¼ lb butter
½ cup milk
½ cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
Stir over low heat until butter is melted and comes to a boil. (Note from Erin: This may seem like it takes forever, but they will not thicken otherwise!) Remove from heat and add…
2 tablespoons peanut butter
3 cups oatmeal (Old fashion)
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup coconut flakes
Stir until everything is mixed well and oatmeal is all coated – drop heaping teaspoon on reynolds wrap or waxed paper. Let stand until dry.