How to Fix No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies that Didn’t Set

You’ve made your recipe for scrumptious no bake cookies but, instead of chocolate deliciousness, you have a gooey mess. What went wrong? And is it salvageable?

The classic no bake cookie is usually a variation of this recipe:

  • Combine 2 cups of granulated sugar, 1/2 cup of whole  milk, a dash salt, 3 T of unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1/2 cup of butter in a saucepan.
  • Bring the ingredients to a boil. If you have a candy thermometer, boil until it reaches the soft ball stage (235-240 degrees). But if you don’t, this is where it gets sticky, literally. Some recipes say boil for 2 minutes (exactly), others say 3 or even 4 minutes, but not a minute more.
  • Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup natural peanut butter,  1 t of vanilla or almond flavoring, and 2 cups of rolled or quick oats. Pour into a greased 8×8 cake pan to make fudge squares or spoon onto wax paper to make individual cookies.

You know right away when they’re setting up correctly. The glossy, gooey chocolate turns to a dull brown and it seems you can barely stir the oatmeal in before the candy starts to harden. If you boil it too long, the cookies will be dry and crumbly at the edges, but they still hold their shape and are delicious. But what happens when you don’t boil it long enough? That’s when you have a soft, sticky mess. It still tastes good, but isn’t the firm, fudge like consistency that you want. A quick search online will reveal a variety of solutions: put the pan in the refrigerator, which helps minimally, or freeze them, which also helps. It makes a great ice cream topping but, unless you’re going to eat it off a spoon, isn’t good for much else.

Before you turn your delicious dessert into a condiment or toss it away entirely, try this:

Start a second batch. Boil your ingredients for at least 2 minutes, but not more than 4 minutes. The magic number seems to be closer to 3 minutes. Put a cup of cold water near the stove and add a drop of the chocolate. When it forms a soft ball that you can squish between your fingers, it’s ready. Remove the pan from the heat and, instead of adding new peanut butter and oatmeal, stir in SPOONFULS of YOUR ORIGINAL BATCH one spoonful at a time. Stir until the original candy melts into the new batch. Pour into a greased pan and let set. I use a cake pan and cut the candy into squares after it sets. You may need to use two pans since you’ve increased the size of your batch. But that just means you’ll have some to keep and some to share.



About Jennie Q. Colabella

I have been a journalist for 25 years and have experience in a variety of media, including newspapers, radio stations, and network television. I received my FCC Broadcast license in 1987 and am a member of the Education Writers Association and Freelance Writers Association.

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