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Cooking the Books — No-Bake Cookies: More Than 150 Fun, Easy, & Delicious Recipes For Cookies, Bars, and Other Cool Treats Made Without Baking by Camilla V. Saulsbury

With it being the end of the year, many people are pressed for time–me included. With activities nearly everyday outside of work, Camilla Saulsbury’s No-Bake Cookies: More Than 150 Fun, Easy, & Delicious Recipes For Cookies, Bars, and Other Cool Treats Made Without Baking came in handy for my Cooking the Books article this month. As the title suggests, Saulsbury includes more than 150 recipes for creating quick and easy snacks without the need for baking. Saulsbury includes notes on how to prepare for each type of treat including drop cookies, shaped cookies, cereal bars, cookie bars, and icebox bars.

As the holidays approach, I chose her “Gingerbread Chews” recipe. Preparation was fairly simple and I was able to complete the treats in less than 30 minutes! Be careful not to cook the brown sugar and peanut butter too long, as they may start to evaporate. You’ll need as much of this sticky liquid mixture as possible to coat the crisp rice cereal. It may even be worth adding a little extra of these two ingredients. There was no indication as to whether you should use your hands to ball up the chews before placing them in your wax paper lined container, but I found that this step was necessary in keeping all of the ingredients together. I’ll admit that I may have left a little too much time between taking the pan off the heat and adding the other ingredients which could have contributed to the evaporation. I suggest doing this and forming the balls as quickly as possible so that they don’t dry out too much.

My coworkers’ reactions:

Pros:

  • “I love the light and airy texture. The spice is flavorful without being overpowering. Very tasty and seasonal.”
  • “I could eat these all day!”
  • “Delicious! I would like a copy of the recipe.”
  • “I love rice crispy treats. I love gingerbread. So… obviously, I love these! They are great as is, but I would also like more chewiness. I guess that means add marshmallows?”

Mixed Reviews:

  • “It’s not exciting to me, but I like it. I like the texture and it tastes like a candle.”
  • “Perhaps a tad too much spice, but still delicious!”
  • “As a gingerbread hater, these are the perfect balance of sweet and ginger-y.”
  • “The scent of peanut butter threw me a loop–and eventually the spices became more pronounced on the tongue–the spicy ginger hit. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything quite like this before! Not bad, but ‘unusual.’”

Cons:

  • “I enjoyed the flavor and chewiness. Nice texture, but I think I would prefer it without the spices. Perhaps a simple peanut butter or chocolate flavor would be better.”
  • “It’s not my thing. I like the texture. It’s nice and crunchy, but the ginger is reminiscent of a curry and I don’t know why you would want that in a sweet treat.”
  • “Huh. I’m not sure what to make of the peanut butter with the spices. The ginger is a bit too much for me, I’d reduce it by ¼ teaspoon.”

Overall, I am pleased with this recipe in that it didn’t take much time to prepare. It seems that for the most part, people either loved the gingerbread chews or they didn’t. Personally, I was a fan of the flavor and texture, but the taste of ginger didn’t make sense to me with this particular style of cookie. I will definitely try other recipes from this cookbook, but I don’t think I’ll revisit the gingerbread chews again.

Recipe

Ingredients:

½ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup dark corn syrup
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ teaspoons ground ginger
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
4 cups crisp rice cereal

Directions:

  • Line cookie sheets with wax paper.
  • In medium-sized saucepan combine the brown sugar and corn syrup. Bring mixture to a boil, cooking and stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in the peanut butter, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until blended and smooth.
  • Add the cereal to the peanut butter mixture, stirring until well coated. Working quickly, drop the mixture by heaping teaspoons onto the wax paper. Let stand in cool place to harden. Store tightly covered between layers of wax paper.
  • Makes about 24 cookies.

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