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Absence and Coconut Chow Mein Butterscotch Cookies

March 9, 2012

For two weeks this big bed hundreds of miles from our home has felt empty. I wake too early, the rural silence unsettling for this city girl. I reach for you in the darkness like I always do, a twelve-year habit that I can’t bare the thought of breaking. My hands meet a cold, crisp sheet. Where are you? Where am I? The sleepy haze begins to clear, and I remember that you’re at home in our bed, so far away. I fumble for the light. I miss you less once my day has started; the light holds so many distractions. But in the dark, awake, all I feel is your absence.

I’ll be home tomorrow. It’s so close now I can almost feel your arms around me, welcoming me back. The house will smell like brown butter when you open the back door and find me in the kitchen making cookies especially for you–sweet and just a bit savory–the way you like them. While you debate having a second cookie, I’ll tell you all about Austin–the silky smoked yellowtail at Uchi, the sage funnel cake at barley SWINE, the red velvet from Hey Cupcake!, the crazy cowboy gear at Allen’s Boots, and too many stories about Claire and Carmen. You’ll take in every detail even if you’re bored, because you missed me too. Then you’ll show me the projects you found time for while I was gone–the window trim, the rebellious oven door, and the delicate seedlings–our future garden–sprouting under the grow lights. I’ll remember for the third time just how lucky I am. And later that night in the darkness, I’ll reach for you and find you at last.

Coconut Chow Mein Butterscotch Cookies

    Decades ago my mom made a no-bake cookie that I loved: melted butterscotch morsels, chow mein noodles, done. Combining the ingredients in a straight up cookie dough has been on my “must try” list ever since I tasted my first Momofuku Milk Bar “Compost Cookie,” the sweet meets savory brainchild of pastry chef Christina Tosi. Further inspired by memories of baking with mom (Mom ALWAYS made us mix cookie dough by hand.) and too weary from traveling to drag out the Kitchen Aid, I made these without a mixer. The result was a jam-packed cookie that screamed with flavor.


    1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1 large egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
    3/4 cup chow mein noodles
    1 cup butterscotch morsels
    flaky sea salt (I use Maldon, but any coarse salt will work.)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add egg and vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and coconut. Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Stir in noodles and butterscotch chips.
  4. Roll dough into balls about the size of golf balls (approx. 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough) and place two inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten the tops slightly with a glass. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned but still soft. (I prefer mine slightly under cooked.)
  5. Cool slightly on baking sheets. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 2 dozen.

And for the chocolate lover, try these Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2012 5:01 pm

    These are some interesting cookies. I bet they taste lovely.
    Get home safely to the comforts of your home!!

  2. March 9, 2012 7:12 pm

    It’s Friday night and I’m sipping a glass of wine while I am enjoying your blog! (I swear that’s really true). As I read it I couldn’t help but feel a bit jealous at the closeness of your wonderful marriage and how deeply you felt your husband’s absence. In a similar situation, I would be feeling great joy at having complete control of the TV remote!! (But then again, we have been married for 27 years).
    I’m thinking your cookies would be great in my holiday baskets next December.
    P.S. My niece lives in Chicago, so I will have to let you know when I come to visit next time!

    • March 11, 2012 4:32 pm

      Yes, yes! Do let me know when you plan to visit Chicago. What a treat that would be!

      27 years? Congratulations! It’s hard isn’t it, marriage, I mean. I didn’t know just how hard it would be and believe me, there have been times when I have welcomed his absence, and he mine. For better, for worse, right?

  3. March 9, 2012 9:05 pm

    I have to tell you, to this day…I always mention to anyone in the room when I bake “always mix cookie dough with your hands”

  4. March 10, 2012 11:35 am

    Oh my… what a ridiculously interesting recipe… it sounds great though – interesting is always great, it’s one of the reasons I love wordpress 😀

    • March 12, 2012 1:38 pm

      I know what you mean about the wordpress thing. And “ridiculously interesting” is a compliment of the highest order–thank you frugal feeding.

  5. herbgrl permalink
    March 11, 2012 9:21 am

    I Still always mix by hand! Recipe looks yummy.


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