The Great Cookie Experiment- Soft Pudding Cookies
This review is going to be pretty food science heavy. I do not actually have a Food Science degree- I have a degree in Elementary and Special Education, but I have friends (waves hi to the Cornabys people) who have literally written the book and taught the college courses on food science, and they have taught me pretty much everything I know about food. This recipe has a LOT going on in it, and it all works out to a really good cookie!
First, there is a reason why there is pudding in the cookie dough. If you go to the cookie aisle of the grocery store, and look for the packaged soft baked cookies- Chips Ahoy used to have one, but I don’t buy a lot of packaged cookies, so I couldn’t tell you if they are still on the market- the ingredient that makes those cookies soft and chewy is Modified Food Starch. Now, go and take a look at a package of instant pudding and take a look at the ingredient list. I know you have a box lying around in your pantry somewhere, so go look, I’ll wait….okay, so one of the main ingredients in instant pudding is Modified Food Starch (and sugar, and flavorings). Modified Food Starch is an instant thickener. You can thicken things without cooking them. It’s really wonderful stuff. It ALSO holds onto moisture, so when you add it to baked goods, it keeps them soft and chewy and moist. When you see cake mixes that say “Pudding in the Mix” They haven’t really added pudding, they’ve added Modified Food Starch. It makes the cake extra moist. For a long time, Modified Food Starch wasn’t made for household use, it was a secret kept by food companies. Many years ago, before Cornabys was called Cornabys, they started making a Modified Food Starch that was for the household consumer. It’s called Ultra Gel, and you can use it EXACTLY like pudding in your baked goods to get them soft and chewy. If you think you might make this cookie, then by all means go buy a cheap box of instant pudding, and throw it in. If however, you love the results, and want to try it in your cakes, breads, pancakes, muffins or any other baked good you can think of, then you really want to invest in Ultra Gel. Use about a teaspoon per cup of flour in your basic recipe and see what happens!
The second cool thing going on with this cookie recipe is that it uses applesauce. Frequently, applesauce is used to replace or reduce your fat in a baked goods recipe. I like using applesauce instead of oil in my zucchini bread, and it comes out great every time. There is still butter in this cookie, however, so the applesauce is actually doing more than just reducing the fat. It’s adding moisture. This is exactly the kind of moisture the Modified Food Starch needs to keep the cookies soft! If you have a fairly dry recipe, and want to add Ultra Gel to soften things up, then consider adding a little bit of extra liquid- applesauce, water, milk, juice, etc. Just a Tablespoon or two will make sure that there’s something moist for it to work with.
Lastly, we need to talk flour. Up until now, I haven’t talked about the kind of flour I use in my cookie recipes, but the time has come to reveal that I never cook with plain old bleached white flour. That’s because it’s been so processed that there’s nothing in it anymore that makes it a real food, other than starch. I don’t cook with all whole wheat flour, however, because the texture comes out so dense and heavy that it really affects the results in a baked good. Instead, I use unbleached white flour mixed with whole wheat flour-about half and half. I’ve done it for years and years and have never regretted it. The results always come out well, and at least there’s an ATTEMPT at nutrition in a cookie. Any of these recipes, if it has flour, it has the white flour/ wheat flour mix. Since this recipe actually calls for both white and wheat flour, I just used my standard mix, I didn’t measure the two flours out separately.
Whew! *steps down from the lecture podium* There you go, that is everything you need to know about this cookie, except for the most important thing. They taste really good, are soft and chewy and you should go make them!
(ed notes: Didn’t she do a good job?)
Soft Pudding Cookies
1 cup all purpose flour
1 ¼ cups wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup softened butter
½ cup applesauce
¾ cups packed brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
1 (3.4 oz) pkg instant pudding (I used vanilla)
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. Cream together butter, applesauce, and sugars. Add pudding mix and beat until well blended. Stir in eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add dry ingredients, then chocolate chips and nuts. Drop cookies by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes until edges are golden brown.