You might already love these cookies. They take all of five minutes to make, without heating the oven (or you). They're well-loved across the U.S.—some call them preacher cookies, some call them poodgies. But there is an art to nailing the glossy tops and fudgy middles. This recipe includes the tips chef Scott Peacock has gathered over a lifetime.
As Scott writes in The Gift of Southern Cooking, “These are, hands down, my very favorite cookie from childhood. I first tasted them at our next-door neighbor’s, though they quickly became my sister Janet’s specialty and a family classic. Quick, easy, and cooked on top of the stove, they are really more confection than cookie. And be forewarned, they are powerfully addictive.”
A few more of Scott’s tips: Any peanut butter will work, creamy, crunchy, unsweetened, or not—they’ll all just give slightly different flavors. Same with the unsweetened cocoa: Natural or Dutch-process are both good—the former will be deeper and darker, the latter will give you more of a classic brownie flavor. Any milk works here. Rolled oats will work in place of the quick-cooking variety. Try to choose a saucepan that isn’t especially wide, so that your moisture doesn’t evaporate too quickly, to get cookies that are set but still soft and pliable. And be sure to try one while it’s still warm.
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Mix together the peanut butter, oats, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Don’t worry about getting it evenly mixed—it will all come together in the pot soon enough.
Heat the butter and milk in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, until the butter is melted. Whisk in the sugar, salt, and cocoa until smooth. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 1/2 minutes, until you see large bubbles, stirring often to prevent scorching. With a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the peanut butter–oat mixture, and continue cooking for 1 minute longer, until the mixture is still fluid but starting to hold a shape, stirring constantly.
Turn off the heat, but leave the pot on or near the burner to keep the mixture warm as you scoop (it shouldn’t still be bubbling, just keeping warm). Drop the cooked mixture by tablespoonfuls onto wax paper, parchment paper, or aluminum foil. Allow to cool and become firm. Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 1 week.