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
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 15 minutes
- makes 20
(165 grams) unsalted butter, cubed and softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cups
(180 grams) all-purpose flour
(70 grams) custard powder, preferably Bird’s (see author’s notes)
plus 1 tablespoon (70 grams) confectioners’ sugar
instant espresso powder or instant coffee
5 1/4 ounces
(150 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet chocolate)
Flaky salt, for sprinkling (optional)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the milk and vanilla and mix on medium speed until you get a smooth dough, about 1 minute.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.