Of all the happy food feelings I have from my childhood, nothing makes me more nostalgic than the drop cookie. It was the very first recipe I ever memorized, and the first recipe that firmly established my place in the kitchen among the women of my family.
My mom's friend/cousin Lisa hand wrote the recipe for these drop cookies on a piece of notebook paper, and gave it to her probably when she first married. The cookies were so prized in our house, that the recipe lived in the very first slot of my mom's recipe binder, which was in actuality an old, clingy, photo album that resided in the drawer to the right of the stove in our kitchen. It was the recipe drawer, where all cut-outs, a binder, a "Calling All Cooks," and a few random twist ties lived. I remember these details because I looked at that recipe every time I opened the recipe book, which was a lot, and I cooked these a lot growing up.
My mom says that I have been baking since I could pull up the stool in the kitchen and stand up to stir things. Luckily, she let me help in the kitchen quite a bit, and encouraged my food habit. She made these cookies all the time, as they use ingredients we always, always had on hand. Before I took over the primary responsibility for making them in our house, I would stand in the kitchen and watch her make them, taking a spoon and scooping up the warm, gooey, unhardened cookies and devour at least 4 of them. They were best washed down with a Sun-Drop. (My today self says, "how unhealthy, and no wonder I had self esteem issues, I was probably a bit large for my bone structure.") They can cure any bad mood, and make any day better.
I first made them for my high school scholars' bowl team around 9th grade after we'd won a big competition. They were devoured in seconds, expected of me from then on out, and became my signature recipe in high school. My aunts used to have difficulty making them, because they never hardened up properly for them. And when my grandmother would make them, they tasted funny. Mom's version was the best, and I think my technique is foolproof. Mine taste just like hers did, so you won't be disappointed in the taste.
1 stick butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 1/2 Tablespoons coco powder
2 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional, I usually leave them out)
First, lay out a sheet of wax paper or aluminum foil sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Then, measure out your 2 1/2 cups of oats and 1/2 cup of peanut butter. You will be glad you took the time to do these steps later, as the cookies move fast toward the end. In a large, heavy, nonstick stock pot, add butter, sugar, milk, and coco. Then, turn on the heat to medium-high. Constantly stirring, bring the mix to a boil. As soon as it comes to a full, rolling boil, continue to stir vigorously, and count to 90. Then, turn off the heat, quickly add in the oats and peanut butter (and pecans if you are adding them), stir to combine, and drop by spoonful on the wax paper. Eat warm with a spoon (or with your fingers, not that I'm speaking from experience) or allow to harden and enjoy.
These cookies remind me of my mom, more than anything else. Happy home memories, from me to you!