Pudding mix is cookies' secret to 'calm, cozy vibes'

Gretchen McKay
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)

The holidays are soon upon us, and because there's always room for a dazzling dessert or late-night snack, many of us will be looking for new cookie recipes that will wow guests with the perfect mix of crunch, chew and irresistible flavor.

This recipe from Milk Bar founder Chrstina Tosi's latest cookbook, "All About Cookies: A Milk Bar Baking Book," hits all the right notes. That's because the sweet and buttery flavor of butterscotch, Tosi writes, not only evokes warm memories of Grandma's house, but also brings "infinite calm, cozy vibes."

Like all winning cookie recipes, this one includes a secret ingredient from the baking aisle that puts it over the top: a box of butterscotch pudding mix. Along with adding luscious notes of brown sugar and butter, the mix — made largely of cornstarch — helps create a thicker cookie, because it prevents the batter from spreading. It also makes for a very soft and tender layer to the center of every cookie that just pairs so well with the slightly crunchy edges.

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The original recipe calls for 1 cup of butterscotch chips, but I took Tosi's advice from the book's forward to "mix it up" and added chocolate chips to the batter. (No risk, no reward!) I also used a 1.5-ounce cookie scoop for portioning instead of the suggested 2 3/4 -ounce scoop, which resulted in smaller — but more — cookies.

I think they're best warm right out of the oven with a glass of milk for dunking, but the cookies will keep fresh on the counter for at least three days at room temperature. If you're baking ahead of the holidays, you also can store them in the freezer for up to one month.

Butterscotch pudding mix is the secret weapon in these ooey-gooey cookies studded with chocolate chips and toasted pecans. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

CHOCOLATE BUTTERSCOTCH PECAN PUDDING COOKIES

PG tested

  • 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 box ( 1/2 cup) instant butterscotch pudding mix
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Pan spray or line 2 half-sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

As oven heats up, spread pecans on one of the baking sheets and toast 10 to 15 minutes, until nutty and a deep golden brown under skin. Remove nuts to bowl and set the pan aside to be reused.

In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine melted butter, sugar, instant pudding mix and brown sugar, and paddle together on medium-high for 2-3 minutes until well combined. Scrape down sides of the bowl, add the whole egg, egg yolk and vanilla and beat again until smooth.

In a medium bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda and add to the batter, mixing until just combined.

Paddle in the butterscotch and chocolate chips and toasted pecans, just until incorporated.

Using a cookie scoop (I used a 1.5-ounce scoop), scoop the dough onto the prepared pans, 2 inches apart.

Bake at 400 degrees until still mounded, dry on the edges and shiny on top, 6 to 8 minutes.

Let cookies cool on the pans for just 5 minutes, then transfer to a plate so they stop cooking from the pan's residual heat while they cool. Once cooled completely, use an airtight container for storage.

Makes around 32 cookies with a 1.5-ounce scoop or 12 cookies with a 2 3/4 -inch scoop.

— Adapted from "All About Cookies: A Milk Bar Baking Book" by Christina Tosi (Clarkson Potter; Nov. 1, 2022; $35)

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