Chocolate Chip Vanilla Pudding Cookies
Recipe: Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies
Total Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes
I don’t know what to tell you. Some weeks are just two cookie weeks. It could be that the rainy weather we’re having is driving me to bake or that I’ve recently joined a moms’ group and when you’re trying to make new friends, bringing cookies never hurts. This might be a stretch, but I swear that extreme cravings for baked goods could also be a 4th month postpartum symptom. Is the 4th month still postpartum or is it time to stop using that excuse for everything?
These cookies, however, are not breakfast cookies, they are cookie-cookies. The kind made with yummy fattening things like butter and chocolate and in this case, vanilla pudding. While I love almost any type of homemade cookie, chocolate chip is probably my favorite and this particular recipe is the one I make the most. In case you doubt I am someone who has any right to speak authoritatively about chocolate chip cookies, there is a story in my culinary past that you should know about, one that I think proves my obsession with the chocolate chip cookie.
It began when my roommate and close friend, Kelly, came home from work one day and announced that her office was holding a chocolate chip cookie baking contest. The first place prize was a KitchenAid mixer. Second place was $100. I don’t remember what the third place prize was because it didn’t matter to us. We weren’t going to settle for third. Kelly and I both agreed right away that winning first place wasn’t any good either - I already owned a KitchenAid mixer, so we had no use for another in our tiny apartment kitchen. But second place? That $100 was enough to buy us each a ticket to what was then the most important event of our lives, an upcoming Pearl Jam concert. At the very least it would buy us one ticket and several rounds of gin and tonics. We were young and broke and frankly, had a lot of free time on our hands, so spending our evenings perfecting a 2nd place chocolate chip cookie recipe was right up our alley.
We decided that a 2nd place cookie had to be not quite chewy enough, a tad too crispy around the edges and just a wee bit too sweet. We were walking a dangerous line – if we strayed too far in any of those directions, we were going to end up with third place. But if we added just the right amount of sugar and took the cookies out of the oven a few seconds too soon, we’d probably win first and get stuck with another KitchenAid. Fueled by gin tonics and a burning desire not to do our very best (which we were already pretty good at. It was the nineties in Seattle so being a slacker came pretty easily) we baked our way through numerous batches of cookies. On the day of the contest we pulled our final batch of cookies out of the oven and prayed that they would be good, but not quite be good enough.
The call came late in the afternoon. Kelly paused to build suspense and then yelled into her end of the phone, “We’re going to Pearl Jam!” Somehow, we had done it. We’d baked the best 2nd place cookie around.
You have to know a thing or two about chocolate chip cookies to win first place, but admit it, only a real cookie pro can purposefully win second place. So what is the recipe for the perfect 2nd place cookie? I have no idea. My inability to retain the winning recipe probably had something to do with the fact that our drinks back then had a whole lot more gin in them than tonic. But I can tell you this – these Chocolate Chip Vanilla Pudding Cookies are not second place cookies. These are definitely first place cookies, if, of course, you like a certain type of chocolate chip cookie. One that is soft, not crispy; cakey, not chewy; sweet, but not overly so. The secret ingredient is a little bit of instant vanilla pudding in place of the white sugar. It makes the cookies rise more than usual, turns them soft and fluffy and gives them a yummy vanilla flavor.
The moral of this little story is that there are many ways to succeed in life and that winning first place isn’t always what we should be aiming for. Strive for whatever makes you happy. If you’re not sure what will make you happy, then start by baking yourself a batch of cookies. Inhale the sweet aroma as it fills your house, eat a warm cookie with a glass of milk or a good cup of coffee. Happiness is sure to follow.