The Best Butterscotch Cookies

by Min Merrell

It was Knopf editor Judith Jones who helped make Julia Child a star. These are her favorite butterscotch cookies. A stack in a cel-o bag makes a terrific gift. 

A few years ago, I happened to catch Martha Stewart cooking with Julia Child’s famed Knopf editor, Judith Jones promoting her autobiography The Tenth Muse. Ms. Jones was demonstrating her favorite butterscotch cookie recipe that she finagled from the old New York restaurant chain Schrafft’s.

She and her friend the late James Beard loved the cookies and enjoyed many deep discussions about the addictive flavor. Judith was exactly right. Now we can’t get enough of these cookies either. They epitomize yin yang balance–homey and sophisticated, crisp and chewy, salty and sweet, buttery and light. One bite causes a moment of inner peace, before automatically reaching for a second. It’s a very basic sugar cookie with two distinctive ingredients–DARK brown sugar and a little dry milk powder. When Martha asked about the dry milk powder, Judith shrugged and explained that the proportions were downsized for the home kitchen from a huge foodservice recipe. The dry milk powder stayed. I have a hunch that the milk powder contributes to the rich butterscotch taste, an ingredient that you can’t detect, but would miss if it wasn’t there. Our version further tweaks Judith’s by rounding out the ingredient list. This recipe will definitely be included in the Cheater Chef autobiography with a thank you to Judith and Schrafft’s. Take it, tweak it, and make it your own.


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