Meltaway Chocolate Chip Cookies

May  3, 2021
24 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
Author Notes

What happens when you add British custard powder to an American chocolate chip cookie? This delightful recipe that’s not crispy, chewy, or crispy-chewy like classic versions—instead you get a more delicate shortbread type texture. The combination of Bird’s custard powder and confectioners’ sugar creates a marvelous cookie that melts in your mouth, leaving behind bits of bittersweet chocolate. Custard powder also carries two extra benefits: It comes pre-flavored with vanilla and has a peachy yellow-orange tinge. It’s also sugar-free, so we have control over the cookie’s sweetness. A pinch of instant coffee or espresso powder will help accentuate the aroma of the chocolate and make this cookie shine.

That said, custard powder has a look-alike in the U.S.: instant pudding mix. Personally, this is not my favorite option because it contains other ingredients, like polysorbate 60 and calcium carrageenan, that I find affect the texture. If you’d like, you can swap in 6 tablespoons (70 grams) of instant vanilla pudding mix in place of the 1/2 cup (70 grams) of custard powder. But in that case, you will need to reduce the amount of sugar by 2 tablespoons, or the cookie will be too sweet. In addition, cookies made with instant pudding mix tend to spread out much more than those made with Bird’s custard powder.

Likewise, because both of these products rely so heavily on cornstarch, you can also swap in 1/2 cup (70 grams) of cornstarch in place of the 1/2 cup (70 grams) of custard powder. In my opinion, cornstarch is the best substitute for custard powder. Just add 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of good vanilla extract (I personally lean toward a heavier hand with vanilla in desserts).

I also used confectioners’ sugar instead of the more traditional granulated sugar plus brown sugar combo. Confectioners’ sugar (aka powdered sugar) provides a smoother texture because it dissolves swiftly in the batter, creating a cookie that melts in the mouth. If you’d like, you can also add in 1 tablespoon of molasses to give the cookie a deeper earthy flavor and richer brown color.

After trying this version, you can go wild with flavors and chocolate cacao percentages; you can even drop the chocolate and use the base of this recipe to make whatever cookies you think this texture will work great in. You could, for example, adapt the flavors from my spicy chocolate chip ginger cookies and use them here. —Nik Sharma

Watch This Recipe
Meltaway Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • makes 20
  • 3/4 cup (165 grams) unsalted butter, cubed and softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (70 grams) custard powder, preferably Bird’s (see author’s notes)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (70 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 1/4 ounces (150 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet chocolate)
  • Flaky salt, for sprinkling (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until it turns pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a fine-mesh sieve, sift the flour, custard powder, confectioners’ sugar, and espresso powder on top of the butter.
  3. Return to the mixer and mix on low speed until the mixture begins to resemble cookie crumbs. Scrape the sides of the bowl down with a bowl scraper or rubber spatula.
  4. Add the milk and vanilla and mix on medium speed until you get a smooth dough, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the chocolate chips and mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds until evenly distributed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment paper or a container.
  6. Divide the dough by weight into 20 equal pieces. Shape each into a 2-inch/5-centimeter circular disk. The cookie dough can be frozen for up to 1 month, if wrapped with plastic wrap and separated by parchment paper.
  7. To bake the cookies, place two wire racks in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and add the cookies, each about an inch (2 1/2 centimeters) apart. The cookies will not spread during baking. Sprinkle with flaky salt if you’d like (there’s salt in the custard powder so I personally skip this).
  8. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until the edges start to turn golden brown, swapping the baking sheets between the racks and rotating them halfway through during baking.
  9. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then carefully transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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Nik Sharma is a molecular biologist turned cookbook author and food photographer who writes a monthly column for Serious Eats and the San Francisco Chronicle and is a contributor to the New York Times. His first cookbook, Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food, was a finalist for a James Beard Foundation award and an International Association of Culinary Professionals award. Nik resides in Los Angeles, California and writes the award-winning blog, A Brown Table. Nik's new book, The Flavor Equation will be released in October 2020.

42 Reviews

Scott May 5, 2021
There are a lot of negative reviews about these cookies so I wanted to try the recipe out and see for myself. So, these are not bad cookies. They taste pretty good. But, I don't think that they live up to the 'meltaway' description in the name. I understand why some people felt they were dry because they are--almost on the verge of chalkiness--but not quite there. They're certainly more like a shortbread. However, a shortbread does almost melt-in-your-mouth and as previously mentioned, I think these cookies do fall short in that quality. I likely would not make this same exact recipe again. But, I am interested in using the custard powder for other types of cookies so I thank Nik for introducing that particular ingredient with some explanation. Anyway, again I did generally like these cookies. They aren't too sweet, they're easy to make and the recipe has introduced me to a new ingredient to bake with.
Carla S. May 3, 2021
I'm not a baker but followed the recipe to the letter. They turned out horrible, nothing like the picture or description. Bad technique? I had to use a hand mixer. I have half of the dough left is there any resurrection?
epws May 2, 2021
Not worth making. I wanted to love these as I was so intrigued by the use of the Birds custard powder but the results were lackluster at best. Save you best butter and chocolate for another recipe. Also, the picture accompanying the recipe was very deceiving. I honestly think I would have been less disappointed had the picture more fairly resembled the cookie the recipe produces. Am so grateful for all the wonderful recipes this site provides. If this is the worst thing I make from the site, I can handle that for sure!
Robert W. May 1, 2021
Disappointing. Tastes like a mediocre packaged cookie. Tossed my newly purchased custard powder in the garbage.
Danielle1975 May 1, 2021
The custard powder is good, just not in the cookies. You should keep it to make custard for a trifle
Paula B. April 29, 2021
I was intrigued by this recipe so I made them last night. I had Bird's custard powder in the pantry because, being Canadian, you have to have it for Nanaimo Bars. I was hoping for a new cookie recipe to add to the regular rotation. I didn't expect a regular chocolate chip cookie, and these came out exactly as described, but I was disappointed. They do "melt in your mouth," but they are dry and flavour is a bit odd. They also have a strangely yellow colour. It was difficult to tell when they are done. I expect recipes to have a narrower time window than 10 minutes, based on testing in a 350F oven, and my oven temperature is accurate. I'll just make my go-to shortbread recipe in future.
Carla S. May 4, 2021
I love shortbread. Care to share the recipe
Danielle1975 April 29, 2021
Definitely not a substitute for the typical chocolate chip cookie! More like shortbread but just ok. I followed ingredients and instructions exactly, turned out well but I didn’t really like them. Won’t be making again:(
Jaxfletch12 April 27, 2021
Created an account just so I could leave a review for this recipe. They’re really tasty! I cooked them until there was very light browning just on the edges and let them cool for 5 minutes on the pan (17 minutes in my oven). Like the author says, these won’t be like regular chocolate chip cookies. I would describe them as a mix between shortbread, pecan meltaway cookies, and chocolate chip cookies. I did sprinkle some salt on top just before baking, and I thought it tasted great. I’ll definitely be making these again!
CyndyB April 26, 2021
I did not have custard powder so I used the instant vanilla pudding and the cookies turned out absolutely wonderful! Surprise recipe and a definite keeper!
MargBenn April 26, 2021
I love these cookies! They have the texture of a French sable, which I really like, and I will definitely make these again! I'm an experienced baker- I've baked for a large family for 60 years and I've tried probably 20 different chocolate chip cookie recipes. Thanks Nik! 5 stars from me, especially when they are hot out of the oven.
Jim M. April 26, 2021
I was intrigued by the description of the texture of this cookie. I would definitely emphasize the word shortbread. That's what it reminded me of. It is dry and breaks down into a fine powdery texture. If the idea of shortbread with chocolate chips in it sounds appealing to you then this is your recipe. Keep some liquid nearby (e.g. milk) to rehydrate your mouth.
I think I'm going to try making some custard with the powder I bought.
miket April 26, 2021
Waste of time. Cooking time way too long - kept waiting for edges to brown, which happened at 28 minutes. Pretty tasteless, even the chocolate was subdued. Dry, like a digestive, but worse. Seems both untested and unchecked. Disappointed.
Amy April 26, 2021
These remind me of Russian tea cakes and in fact the recipes are similar - no eggs, no other leavening, and confectioners sugar in place of granulated. Not what I usually crave in a chocolate chip cookie but some may like that texture.
Amy April 26, 2021
This texture of this cookie reminded me of Russian Tea cakes that I usually make around the holidays. It was not what I expected at all but there are no eggs or other leavening agents and then when I compared the two recipes I realized why they are so similar in taste and texture. Not the type of chocolate chip cookie I usually crave but might be ok for some.
Michael M. April 25, 2021
These cookies were great. Exactly as described, melt in your mouth. I'm not sure why there are some many negative reviews, I made these as per the instructions and the video (suggested cooking times vary); I cooked mine for 18 mins. These are not "toll house" cookies, if you want those go make those. These are different kind of a cross between shortbread and sable. If you are looking to change up your chocolate chip cookie game try these.
Karen B. April 25, 2021
While the tag line drew me in, I have made cookies using that secret ingredient--and maybe it was psychological?, but the artificial pudding taste was present.
The purist in me needs browned butter, brown sugar and egg in my chocolate chippers. What I have discovered, however, is substituting a T of AP flour with 1 T of cornstarch per cup in CChip cookies creates a soft, chewy on the inside, still crispy on the outside mouth feel. (I also do a sub 2T AP with 2T cornstarch per cup in cakes)
Deb H. April 25, 2021
Here's a great tip for drop cookies like this (works for meatballs, too!)--from a recent edition of "Cooks Illustrated" magazine--pat the dough into a square baking pan lined with plastic wrap; chill a bit. Turn out onto a cutting board, remove wrap, and cut into equal pieces/squares (so, for this recipe, 5x5 perhaps?). Great, easy, fast way to be sure you get equally proportioned cookies.
LisaBoban April 25, 2021
Boy are these terrible. Followed directions precisely. Weighed all my ingredients. Ordered Birds Custard Powder and waited for it to arrive. These are a complete waste of some fairly expensive ingredients. I suggest your editors actually test a recipe before posting this on your website. Not all your contributors know what they are doing.
Jenny A. April 25, 2021
Thanks for your review; I won’t bother. I would do the same, order the exact ingredients. You just saved me $$$, time, and disappointment. Sometimes when a recipe is so weird, I think it could be magically awesome but from reading these reviews, looks like it missed the mark.
Lloyd D. April 25, 2021
Boy sure wish I read these reviews! Driest cookie ever. Where were the eggs in this? I added one as it was sand until I added that moist egg. For sure needed salt. 25 minutes should be 15 at the most. Weird recipe.
Enid B. April 25, 2021
Glad I read the reviews. I'll stick to my yummy brown butter chocolate chunk cookies, which ARE a mixture of crisp and chewy, and which are perfect for us.
Fern April 25, 2021
Use the basic old Toll House cookie double recipe (for 12 oz. bag), leave out 1/2 cup of the white sugar, and add one small (3.4 oz) box of vanilla pudding mix. It basically does what this recipe claims to do.
Jackie N. April 25, 2021
Is that a box of instant pudding or the kind you have to cook?
Fern April 25, 2021
Sorry I forgot to include that. Instant pudding.
Fern April 25, 2021
But now I'm curious about what would happen if I try the other kind.