When I was little, I loved going grocery shopping with my mom or dad. Riding in the cart up and down the aisles, watching the “thunderstorms” in the produce section, begging for a quarter to put in the gum ball machine outside the front doors, sneaking a candy bar or two into the cart, and seeing how long I could stand between the automatic doors before they started to close: all of the little pleasures that come with being young and carefree.
However, the City Market in our town was also a tantalizing place for my young self. My parents usually steered clear of pre-packaged, processed treats that my little fingers just itched to snatch off the shelves and place into our cart. Only on very special occasions was I allowed to experience the joy of high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring, and red #40. Most of the time I was forced to make do with healthier substitutions: fruit leathers instead of fruit snacks, Raisin Bran instead of Fruity Pebbles, 100% juice bars instead of orange creamsicles, chocolate rice milk instead of Nesquick. Now looking back, I’m glad my parents kept my diet mostly free of all that junk food, and one good thing that came as a result was how special that occasional treat would seem.
One of my favorite “special occasion treats” was chewy Chips Ahoy cookies. No matter how many delicious homemade cookies I ate, none of them had quite the same soft, cake-like texture as those packaged cookies. That is, until I tried a recipe for chocolate chip cookies that contained a secret ingredient: vanilla pudding mix. They have that soft, moist-but-still-fluffy texture that reminds me so much of my beloved chewy Chips Ahoy.
Of course, that taste and texture of “something extra” still comes from a processed food, but it’s definitely a step up from actual Chips Ahoy in ingredient quality and in taste. I can’t say I like these pudding cookies more than my usual go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies, but I don’t love them any less either! So if you’re ever reminiscing a soft, sweet, chewy chocolate chip cookie from a package, look no further than these pudding cookies!
I’ve made several different variations from the traditional vanilla pudding mix/semisweet chocolate chip cookie, and all have been successes. This time I was in the mood for a chocolate-coconut combo, and I used coconut cream pudding mix with dark chocolate chips and sweetened, shredded coconut stirred into the batter. All I can say is YUM! The coconut pudding and shredded coconut gave the cookie a definite kick of coconut, yet it wasn’t overdone, and the dark chocolate chips complemented the flavor perfectly. If you’re a chocolate-coconut fan, mix up a batch of these cookies sooner than later. And even if not, experiment with a different combination of flavors…the sky’s the limit when it comes to these!
Basic Pudding Cookies
1 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 small (3.4 oz) package of instant pudding mix
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups add-ins (chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, etc.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line or lightly grease baking sheets.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the pudding mix, eggs, and vanilla, beating until well-combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to the wet ingredients a little at a time, mixing just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips or other add-ins.
Scoop dough by the rounded tablespoon onto prepared sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are set and edges are golden-brown. Let cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
*Note: For the dark chocolate/coconut combo, I used a small box of coconut cream pudding, 1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup of shredded coconut. I also halved the amount of vanilla so the coconut flavor could be more pronounced.
Fun Flavor Combinations:
Vanilla pudding mix with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or a mixture of both
Chocolate pudding mix with butterscotch chips and/or toffee pieces
Butterscotch pudding mix with chopped walnuts or pecans
Lemon pudding mix with white chocolate chips and shredded coconut
Vanilla pudding mix with dried cherries and white chocolate chips
(Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)