Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cookie Week: Toasted Coconut Haystacks


This is one of those old-fashioned recipes that everyone in the Midwest seems to have some variation of. I had never seen them, though, until I moved to Michigan in 1978. Having grown up in New York City with a Canadian mother and a father whose own mother had emigrated from Ireland, my family didn't have this recipe.

But my ex-husband's did.

Stuart's Great-Aunt Ina created the cherished instructions for making Haystacks - a chocolatey coconut-oat no-bake cookie. She passed the recipe down, and now it is a favorite for a fourth generation. Jeremy could truly devour an entire batch of these when I make them.

Haystacks are ridiculously easy to make, as the most difficult step is merely waiting for them to cool and set. They're a great treat to give as holiday gifts, or to make when you're given last minute notice of bake sales. Butter, sugar, cocoa powder ... two minutes of stirring ... that's it!

Jeremy and Stuart are purists who never want to change anything; they want the same meals served at holidays, the same graham cracker crust at the base of their cheesecake, the same version of Haystacks that they've eaten all their lives.

I, however, like to tweak things a bit.

So I toasted the coconut rather than just stirring it in "as is." And I have to say that the boys loved them! This step offers just an extra bit of depth to the flavor.

Traditions are important at the holidays, and serving Haystacks has been a tradition in the Bilyeu family for decades.

Toasted Coconut Haystacks

1 cup coconut
3 cups quick-cook oats
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.

Place coconut into a large skillet; toast it over low heat just until it starts to turn golden. Place into a large mixing bowl and add the oats.

In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, butter, milk, cocoa powder and vanilla to a boil; boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then pour the chocolate mixture over the coconut and oats. Stir to combine well. (Add another 1-2 tablespoons of milk if the mixture seems a bit dry and isn't cohesive.)

Drop golf ball-sized dollops of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet, pressing lightly to help the cookies hold together as they set. Let cool on the counter or in the refrigerator until set.

Makes 2 dozen cookies, though you could make them smaller to make more.

By the way - don't forget these treats, too:

Oatmeal Shortbread

Blueberry Walnut Rugelach

8 comments:

Jenn said...

Aahhh.. yes, haystacks. We had them on the cookie trays during the holidays all the time! Taking the extra time to toast the coconut must give the standard old haystacks such a new level of flavor.

Daniel Saraga said...

My favourite type of cookie to bake is one that doesn't need baking :-)

Those look delicious.

A former colleague made something similar using pretzel sticks for Halloween and called them "chocolate spiders." I think the chocolate mix might have been a bit thicker to make the pretzels stick, but that's about it.

Cranberry Morning said...

My husband's step-grandmother's name was Ina. I believe she was Finnish. ANYway, I know those cookies too, but haven't made them in years. Thanks for the reminder. And 'haystacks' is so much more creative than just plain ol' 'chocolate no-bake cookies.' Love it!

Leanne said...

Oh, Mary!! Yes, this Midwestern girl remembers a variation of this from my youth . . . But it has been quite a while since I've made them!!! (I think I forgot about them!) just reading the recipe now, and I can almost taste them melt in my mouth! Looks like I've got to add them to my holiday baking list! Hugs, dear friend. Apologies for the comments from me being on the down low lately . . . My brain is so multi-anything challenged. I adore you so much and think of you fondly this season! Hugs!!!! Xoxo

Miriam said...

I love how easy these are. I could really go for some right now...I might just wander off into the kitchen right now and whip some up. :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Mrs B said...

Yummy! I probably wouldn't eat them if they were made with the untoasted coconut, but done this way, I wouldn't be able to stop! LOL

Great addition to my holiday cookie/candy making! And the "easy" part doesn't hurt either. ;~)

Another great one, Mary!

shopannies said...

I have made cookies like this but love the addition of coconut in yours
come see me at http://shopannies.blogspot.com

Mary F said...

Howdy Ms Mary!

Congrats on being featured this week on What's Cooking Wednesday! :~)

XOXO

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