Grandma’s butterscotch cookies

Wherever my grandmother is, there is usually good baking around too. Several of my childhood favourites came from her originally, including these refrigerator butterscotch cookies, which my mum made all the time when we were little but which I hadn’t eaten in well over a decade. So when we visited her in southern Ontario last week, I was delighted to discover a tupperware container full of them on her kitchen counter. Grandma is her own harshest critic, and she didn’t think they were very good at all. But the flavour was in fact perfect, rich and sweet and buttery, just like I remembered. The only slight issue was that she had underbaked them by a minute or two.

When I got to my parents’ house I decided to give them a crack to see if I could get the timings just right. My mum got out the old recipe card written in my grandmother’s hand, and I was a little surprised to see that it gave no real instructions beyond ‘mix ingredients and bake’. I guess they just knew how to do things in the old days! Despite the lack of direction, I think I got these just about perfect – crisp with a nice snap, and full of butterscotch flavour. And they are so easy. A full recipe of dough makes two logs of about 4 dozen biscuits each – the logs can be kept in the fridge or freezer, then sliced and baked off as you want them.

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I’ve never seen this tin before, but I went out and when I got home the cookies were in it. I think this tartan lady’s kind of cool. And from the looks of her, I bet she likes butterscotch cookies. Ba-da-bum-ching!

Hey, I’m known for my cookies, not my jokes.

Butterscotch Cookies
Makes 7 to 8 dozen

2 cups brown sugar (light or dark – I used a mixture)
1 cup unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate. With the mixer on medium-low, add the flour in three additions, mixing well after each one. The batter will be very stiff.

When the dough is well mixed, divide it between two large pieces of wax paper. Shape each mound of dough into a long log, then wrap them up in the paper and chill very well in the fridge, at least one hour. (The logs can also be stored in the freezer at this point.)

When ready to bake, cut off any messy ends of the log and slice it into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Place them on the cookie sheets (these do not spread much so can be placed close together) and bake for about 17 to 20 minutes, until the cookies are a deep golden colour and are firm to the touch.

Cool on a rack before storing in an airtight container.