Summertime in the Southwest. In a word, it is hot. Hot. Especially if you live off-grid and every watt of power is closely watched, trying to conserve enough to run the fans and swamp-box. Less heat in your living space is certainly desirable. But sometimes you just want some cookies! Here is something I often make and savor at home – or take to a pot luck! (Yes, I live off-grid in summer.)
Mesquite No-Bake Cookies
makes 3 to 4 dozen
1/4 pound butter *
4 ounces baking chocolate (can omit but why would you?!)
1/2 cup liquid – milk, cream *
1 cup brown sugar or mesquite honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup mesquite flour or meal (you might need a little more) +
3 cups fine cut oatmeal
* optional changes to go vegan – see below
+ no mesquite flour? Coconut or almond flour works as well and is still gluten-free.
Start with the Right Pot
Use a 3 or 4 quart pot to melt the butter and chocolate in. Large – yes! but you will use this pot as your mixing bowl. Unless you like doing dishes.
Melt the butter and chocolate. Stir continuously to avoid burning.
Get Your Arm Muscles Ready.
Remove pot from heat and the add liquid. Blend together.
Add sweetener, salt, and vanilla. Blend well to dissolve sugar if you are using it.
Add peanut butter while mix is still warm. Stir in until the whole blend is a creamy soup.
Once mix is blended, add mesquite flour and stir in well.
Add oats and get those morsels coated with the “soup.” Except the soup is going away as you mix and you now have something more the consistency of library paste. Too young to know about that? Think standard chocolate chip cookie dough.
If the mix is still too creamy and soupy, you may need to add more mesquite flour. This is important so that the cookies will set up, otherwise you have a sort of dessert soup – which is tasty but not the cookie you want.
Time to Roll the Balls
I like to roll my cookies into walnut-sized balls. If you don’t live off grid and do have a fridge, you could drop by spoon-full onto a cookie sheet an place in the fridge.
The first few balls you roll might be somewhat sticky. Soldier on, this will change as the mixture cools and the mesquite flour slowly absorbs the moisture and oils out of the mix.
Roll the balls and space apart from each other on a cookie sheet. This allows the air to help dry them out further.
Usually by the time I get to the bottom of the pot, the mix has cooled enough and the mesquite soaked enough that the balls are somewhat crumbly, and they tend to be smaller “walnuts” to get them to stay together.
If you have cocoa and have gone the chocolate route, place a little cocoa in a tea strainer and sprinkle over the finished mesquite cookie balls.
Or you could use cinnamon sugar.
* Go Vegan
Use coconut oil instead of butter.
Use almond milk or coconut milk.
Make these two changes and you have a vegan cookie.
Optional Flavor Changes
Use dark rich espresso coffee instead of milk, complements the mesquite well.
Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon to combine with the mesquite flavor nicely. Do keep the vanilla, it helps enhance all the flavors.
Want to learn more? Look for Jacqueline’s lectures at your local Pima County Library branch, Western National Parks Association Store, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today (Tierra del Sol Institute Press). Note – this link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there I will get a few pennies.
That said, Kino’s Herbs is out of print and is locally available and cheaper at Antigone’s Bookstore, Singing Wind Bookstore, Western National Parks, Tohono Chul Park, Tucson Botanical Gardens, and from the fine folks at Rillito Nursery.
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