Meltaway Chocolate Chip Cookies

June  6, 2021
32 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • makes 20
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.

Helpful tools for this recipe:
- KitchenAid Artisan Series Tilt Head Stand Mixer, 5QT
- Nordic Ware Stackable Cooling Rack
- Five Two Bench Scraper

Nik Sharma

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Meltaway Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 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)
  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.

58 Reviews

anniec February 5, 2022
Absolutely amazing! These are meant to be shortbread-like, so I would not any eggs or extra moisture to them. They have a beautiful aroma and are best enjoyed when fully cooled down or the next day. Will 100% be making them again.
MommaMonstah September 18, 2021
This recipe is phenomenal! Shoutout to Nick Sharma! Its not the chewy cookies, its the crunchy melt in your mouth chocolate chip cookies, something light for the coffee. We made like 20x plus of these cookies. Its yummy!
Matt May 12, 2021
Too many people in this comments section are upset that this recipe turned out exactly the way it was described…
Matt May 12, 2021
Too many people are upset in these comments that this recipe turned out exactly the way it was described…
lonewolf May 7, 2021
I made these last night for my office. I bring in something baked and delicious at least once a week. I've probably tried a dozen different chocolate chip cookie recipes in the last year. This recipe intrigued me enough I ordered the custard powder on line. Some reviewers noted an orange color that resulted. I made sure to by the WHITE Birds custard powder and had no problem with "orange man bad" coloring. These are not a traditional chewy soft cookie. These are a shortbread type so just know what to expect. People so far are very impressed with the taste and meltiness. I used really good bittersweet chips and threw in some toasted pecans. I did not use the flaky salt to top them and wish I had simply for the flavor profile. They are not a sweet cookie. I would make them again. I will also try using cocoa powder in place of some of the flour for chocolate chocolate. And am thinking about ground pistachios and pistachio powder (sans chips and espresso powder). The base lends itself for endless flavors and melt in your mouth deliciousness. My house smelled amazing while they baked.
sugarandsalt May 6, 2021
Tried these today, and I'm going to have to agree with the comments. I'm glad I read the review before baking these. I didn't want to throw out the batch so I actually added 1 egg and salt based on what other reviewers thought of the cookies. I think the egg helped with moisture, the cookies turned out flaky and a little moist, but def not toll-house cookies or your typical chewy chocolate chip cookies. At the end, the cookies were ok. I like the idea of the science behind the incorporation of the custard powder, but I don't think I'm going to try this recipe again.
Rescue723 May 6, 2021
My husband is a Kiwi and loves custard powder and confectioners sugar so I was curious about Nik Sharma’s approach to the chocolate chip cookie. So I baked them and tasted them straight out of the oven and I hated them. Then I waited a day, and shared them with work colleagues, explaining their scientific basis, and to my surprise, they loved them. And I tried them again, and I, too, loved them. They seemed to improve over time, gaining rather than losing their flavor. I realized the problem with these cookies is not their individuality but their expectation. When you bite into them for the first time, you EXPECT a toll house cookie, but it is SOOO different. It is more like a meringue or sable than a standard American chocolate chip cookie. When I baked them again, I added molasses to deepen the flavor. Now I believe they are sublime.
jansu December 23, 2021
How much molasses did you add?
I'd like to try your suggestion!
Rescue723 December 23, 2021
I can’t remember, but I’m sure it was only a tablespoon or two. Good luck!
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.