Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pretzel Pieces

Have you ever been to Fresh and Easy?? It’s a smaller grocery chain with the likes of Trader Joe’s, but is more spacious and bright. They also carry brand-name products other than their own. It is awesome. Throughout the store, there are bargain areas with leftovers from the previous day that are greatly discounted. And it’s not just picked-over stuff! There’s been sushi, salmon, ciabattas, fruit gummies and produce, to name a few. Don’t forget to stop by the tasting counter in the back-they always have a few items ready to sample :)   The first time I went to Fresh and Easy was in April in Las Vegas. It seems like a store you’d find in California, so I was surprised I’d never seen one before. Thankfully, I came across one in Walnut Creek! And I am really, really hoping more come to the Bay Area asap.

What does Fresh and Easy have to do with homemade chocolate chip cookies?

Well, I bought these chocolate covered pretzel pieces there (for just $1.99!) and I thought they’d be a great add-in for the cookies. A friend makes some awesome cookies in which she adds some extra salt, so I thought the saltiness of the pretzel with the chocolate and sugar would blend deliciously. I used a tried-and-true chocolate chip cookie recipe that I realized I hadn’t put on the blog yet. The secret ingredient is a small box of instant vanilla pudding. It gives the cookies an extra depth of sweetness and strong vanilla flavor.

Because the dough is quite thick, I found it easier to roll these in balls instead of using two spoons and scooping them onto the pans (my usual method). I also like to refrigerate my cookie dough at least an hour, as it makes the dough less sticky and the cookies spread less. This is totally optional, however, so if you gotta get the cookies going right away, no worries.

These are definitely a chewy chocolate chip  cookie, with the center melting in your mouth. I don’t think there are many people out there who like crispy chocolate chip cookies, but I could very well be wrong. Anyway, we’re all chewy people out here, so these were hard to resist.

Alex decided to get a little creative with the photos and practiced some action shots in a bowl of milk. Pretty nifty I gotta say :)

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pretzel Pieces
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 package (3 1/2 oz. or so) vanilla instant pudding mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chocolate covered pretzel pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour and baking soda. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Mixture will be thick.
Blend in the flour mixture. Then, stir in chocolate chips and chocolate pretzel pieces. If time allows, refrigerate cookie dough, covered with plastic wrap, for at least one hour.
Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.