Fall is prime cookie-baking time — especially for rustic, crowd-pleasing cookies. It is not time yet for the elaborate traditions of Christmas baking, but we want sweet pleasers for lunchboxes, bake sales, and munching with a cup of hot tea. Meet our latest favorite: Peanut butter oatmeal cookies with a dollop of chewy, melting chocolate fudge on top.
These cookies are actually a happy combination of two other favorites: Peanut Butter Monster Cookies — an old classic that has many incarnations. It's a staple on the internet; it seems like every blog and recipe repository has it squirreled away in its archives. And for good reason: they are simple cookies that don't even require a mixer.
The other cookie that inspired these is our own version of Fudge and Walnut Cookies, which is itself a take on those classic oat bars with a layer of fudge on top. They are beloved of bake sales everywhere — but we wanted to have them in a cookie form.
And once they were in cookie form, why not a peanut butter cookie? With fudge on top?
These cookies are also potentially gluten-free, with no flour. Those with a gluten intolerance are often wary of oats; if they eat them at all they can only use oats from a certified gluten-free source. (And some gluten-free folks prefer not to eat oats at all.) But there is no flour or wheat in these cookies, and that's a good place to start. I've made these safely and happily for gluten-free friends, making sure to use certified gluten-free oats.
Despite their mix of inspiration, these cookies are very straightforward — a modern bake sale favorite. Oaty, hearty peanut butter cookies with a bit of salt and not too much sweetness, half-smothered in a gooey glob of fudge. Now that's what we call a crowd-pleaser.
Peanut Butter & Fudge Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats, certified gluten-free if the cookies need to be gluten-free
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 350°F and line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix the butter, peanut butter, and sugars. (You can use beaters, but it's easiest to just vigorously mix by hand.) Mix in eggs and vanilla until thoroughly incorporated. Add the oats, baking soda, and salt, and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate the dough while preparing the fudge topping.
Mix the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a small saucepan. Warm over low heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is completely melted. Stir vigorously to make sure the mixture is evenly mixed. Turn off the burner under the chocolate.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll half of it into walnut-sized balls, pressing each one semi-flat on the cookie sheet. Top each ball of dough with a teaspoon of the warm chocolate mixture.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes or until just golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool on the sheets for a few minutes until they have firmed up enough to remove to wire racks. (You can remove the entire sheet of parchment paper and move the cookies to the rack in that way.)
Repeat with the remaining dough and fudge topping. (Warm and stir the chocolate over low heat if it has hardened too much to scoop.) Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
(Images: Faith Durand)