Joyce’s Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies

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Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Oftentimes, the best recipes are the ones passed down from generation to generation, from family to friends. My dear friend Joyce was kind enough to share her favorite childhood cookie recipe with me. Her grandmother made them for her when she was just a little mouse. They’re simple and straightforward to makeโ€”and waaaaay too easy to inhale.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Here’s part of the original, typewritten recipe from Joyce’s grandmother, Helen Blatchford Parlee, circa 1948.

Joyce's Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies

This cookie is marvelously chewy, and gets its rich, butterscotch-y flavor from a hefty amount of brown sugar and vanilla extract.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

What’s a refrigerator cookie?

You know those tubes of slice-and-bake cookie dough that are right by the eggs in almost every major market? Think of refrigerator cookies as their old-fashioned, made-from-scratch auntie.

Joyce's Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

I love refrigerator cookies because they’re so convenient. I mean, talk about having fresh cookies on command. Just make the dough, roll it up in wax paper, toss it in the fridge, then slice and bake as the mood strikes you!

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

The dough will stay fresh for about a week or so in the fridge. If it lasts, that is.

Shortening vs. butter

Now, normally, I’m an all-butter kind of gal when I bake. Sometimes, I even use olive oil. That said, there’s definitely a time and place for vegetable shorteningโ€”or lard, for that matter (hello, flaky pie crusts!).

When do use it, I usually buy Crisco in its relatively newfangled stick form, because it’s really easy to measure and store. If you don’t want to deal with shortening, substitute butter in this recipe.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

A stick of Crisco shortening, cut in half

Make the dough at least a few hours before you want to bake the cookies, because it needs time to chill and firm up before slicing.

Joyce’s Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Make the butterscotch cookie dough

Put the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Mix them together with a whisk to combine.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Put the shortening in the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl, if you’re using a hand-held mixer). Beat it on medium-high for a few minutes to fluff it up.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

You want it to look about like this:

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Scrape down the sides of your bowl with a spatula.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Toss in the brown sugar.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Beat the brown sugar and shortening together for a few minutes until well combined.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Add the egg and vanilla extract.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Beat on medium-high to combine well.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Add in the flour mixture.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Beat quickly to combine well. Stop mixing when the dough just comes together and all the flour is mixed in. If you beat it too long, it can make the dough tough.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Chill the butterscotch cookie dough

When the dough is made, you’re ready to chill it. Grab a piece of wax paper that’s maybe a foot-and-a-half long and set it on your counter.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Spoon the dough out into the center of the wax paper.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

With your hands, form it into a log that’s about 2 inches in diameter, give or take.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Pull one edge of the wax paper over it, like this:

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Wrap the paper around the dough tightly and roll it up.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

When it’s rolled up, twist the ends tightly.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Pop it into the fridge for at least a few hours to firm up the dough.

Slice and bake the cookies once the dough is cold

After a few hours, your dough should be nice and firm. (If you don’t let it firm up, it will be really hard to slice.)

When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Unwrap the dough and slice off as many cookies as you want to bake. Slice them about a quarter-of-an-inch thick or so.

Joyce's Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Space the cookies out on your prepared sheet pan.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

You want the cookies to be just golden brown.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

The bottoms will look like this:

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Let them cool on the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

If you’re inclined, these cookies would make amazing ice cream sandwiches.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

Enjoy!

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies at The Hungry Mouse

 

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

29 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you! I am so completely thrilled – my grandmother would be so touched. They were just as delicious as I remember – more than 30 years ago! I have such fond memories of sitting in the kitchen with her while she baked – it brought it all back. Thank you!!

  2. These cookies look so good, and definitely would make great ice cream sandwiches. I have a few cookie recipes that have been passed on to me as well. Joyce’s granny must have been one heck of a baker!

    • Hehehe slice-and-bake convenience = a blessing and a curse. It makes it waaaaaaay too easy to bake cookies in the middle of the night. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      +Jessie

  3. The only butterscotch dessert I’ve ever had was pudding, so your cookies sound awesome. I’m gonna have to give them a try. And an ice cream sandwich cookie sounds awesome too.

  4. So easy to make, and looks soooo good. I have to make some really soon.
    And I might add some chocolate chips into the mix too. Or some pecans. So many options. Thanks
    Eric

  5. Is that dark brown sugar you’re using in these cookies? It looks like it in the pics, but just want to be sure. Thanks.

  6. OMG I cant believe I finally found this recipe. We made these when I was in like the 7th grade in my Home Ec class and somehow I lost my recipe. I’m so excited to come across this and can’t wait to make them. The pictures are what made me realize I had finally after all these years found the right one, they look exactly the same.
    Thanks so much!

  7. My recipe is similar but uses 1/2 tsp cream of tartar instead of soda and no vanilla. I’ll have to try vanilla to see if I like it better. I just finished eating one of these cookies and thought I’d check to see if anyone else has a recipe with the oven temp and bake time because my recipe is a bit more old fashioned and says to use a moderately hot oven and bake until golden brown. (Mom said that Grandma cooked on a wood stove and could tell how hot the oven was with a hand placed near it.)

  8. Wow…. My mom had this recipe from and old dog-earred and stained piece of notebook paper from back in 1960 or so. I finally laminated it and my daughter and I still make this recipe during the holidays. I like to crush up some pecans very, very fine and add it to the batter…. gives the cookie a great texture!

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