My grandmother, or as we liked to call her, "Maw Maw", used to make these no bake cookies called haystacks. It was simply butterscotch chips melted and then poured over peanuts and crispy lo mein noodles. You dropped them on wax paper to cool and they sort of resembled haystacks, hence the name. I think the original recipe may have called for chocolate chiops, but my brother and I preferred butterscotch so she obliged. Such simple ingredients and prep, yet so delicious.
I was thinking of those little haystacks and Maw Maw the other day as the temperature broke 100 degrees here, and thought I might attempt a healthier version with a bit more flavor and texture. I knew I wanted to use semisweet chocolate instead of butterscotch and some healthier mix-ins with contrasting textures. After browsing my pantry, I ended up using a mixture of dried tart cherries, toasted hazelnuts, unsweetened coconut flakes, and puffed grains. The resulting cookie didn't disappoint. The chocolate, cherries, and hazelnuts created a lovely flavor combination as well as a contrast of different textures. To add to their awesomeness, I didn't have to turn on my oven and they are gluten free (depending on the grains you use), vegan, and refined sugar free! These are far from the original, but I think Maw Maw would have definitely approved of the updated version. Actually, she would probably have loved them and eaten them for dinner instead of dessert. She was awesome like that :)
Chocolate Cherry Hazelnut Haystacks
I flattened these instead of leaving them like "haystacks", but feel free to do what you want; makes 12-14 cookies
One 3 to 4 oz vegan semisweet chocolate bar
2 tbsp brown rice syrup
scant 1/4 cup nut butter of your choice (I used cashew butter)
1 cup puffed grains of your choice (I used kashi plain 7-grain puffs)
1/3 cup chopped dried cherries
1/3 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
pinch of salt
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler (or carefully in a microwave) until smooth. Add the brown rice syrup, nut butter, and a pinch of salt and stir until smooth and melted together. In a bowl, combine the puffed grains, cherries, hazelnuts, and coconut. Pour the chocolate mixture over and stir to coat everything in the chocolate. Once combined, form heaping tbsp-fulls of the mixture into cookies (or haystacks) and place on a lined sheet or tray. Allow the cookies to cool completely and harden in the fridge before eating. These keep best in the refrigerator and will last a couple of weeks in an airtight container. Enjoy!