Friday, August 13, 2010

Michellen's YumYum Chinese Needles in a Haystack cookies

I got a craving for a crunchy, sweet and salty cookie the other day. The cookie I had in mind was one I haven’t had since childhood – a tantalizingly flavorful blend of butterscotch chips, peanut butter, and chow mien noodles. I know- sounds gross, huh? And yes, they don't look much better than they sound. But stay with me…

The butterscotch chips and peanut butter are combined and melted to create a coating in which the noodles are dipped. The nutty richness of the peanut butter allays the "sets your teeth on edge" sweetness of the butterscotch chips and the chow mien noodles bring just the right hint of salt to play up the creamy flavor of the coating. The noodles also add the crunchy texture that sets this cookie apart.

Since these cookies are of the haystack variety, protruding chow mien noodles can make it hard to get your mouth around them so you sort of have to munch about the edges. Also, the cookie tends to crumble in your hand after the first bite. You’ll most assuredly have little crumbs of butterscotch/peanut butter coating and chow mien noodle pieces in your lap after devouring one. (But who can eat just one?) Trust me, you will be fishing in your lap to nibble on every last remaining crumb.

By now, you must be wondering what these scrumptious morsels of goodness are called. Well, so was I because I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember.

Since the name escaped me, I described the cookie when I called Mom to inquire about the recipe. Thankfully, chow mien noodles as a cookie ingredient are pretty distinctive so she knew exactly what I was referring to. She called them peanut butter cookies. To me, that name just didn’t seem to fit a cookie in which peanut butter is the most nominal ingredient. So for my inaugural batch of these cookies, I decided I should bestow a new name upon them.

As I was kicking around ideas, Eric stopped by the kitchen to see what I was up to and asked, “What are these coral reef looking cookies?” Although his contribution to the naming of the cookie was an off the cuff reaction to the shape and color, I did consider coral reef cookies for a time but decided that title wasn’t snappy enough. However, I was pleased to hear that we were somewhat on the same page as I had been contemplating names involving sea life too. My first thought was that the cookies looked like some variety of nigiri sushi. The chocolate squiggles reminded me of the sweetened soy sauce reduction that is sometimes drizzled over sushi. For inspiration, I arranged a few cookies in a leftover sushi takeout tray but it was to no avail. The name nigiri sushi cookies wasn’t working for me (nor would it “work” for anyone else, I suspect).
Now the cookies are gone (Eric took to these cookies like a fish to water), and without their sugary goodness to fuel my brain, I’m all tapped out on naming ideas. So, dear readers, I’m turning to you. If you have an idea for a name, please feel free to let me know.  I’ll update the title of this post with your chosen moniker attributed to you by name, of course. Help me out folks!

???? Cookies

I have no idea of the actual provenance of these cookies but Mom thinks she got the recipe from my Aunt Dixie. Who knows where Dixie got it? If you know who originally hit upon this winning combination, please thank them heartily for me. They have greatly enriched my life and I’m forever indebted to them. Also, if you know the original name for these cookies, I'd love to know.

2 c chow mien noodles
6 oz butterscotch chips
½ c peanut butter
1-2 oz dark or milk chocolate

1. Line a sheet pan with wax paper and set aside.
2. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butterscotch chips and peanut butter. Stir with a spatula occasionally to prevent burning and to smooth the mixture. When fully melted, stir in the chow mien noodles. Drop large spoonfuls onto the wax paper lined sheet pan and place in fridge to set up.
3. Melt a small quantity of chocolate and pour into a Ziploc bag. Use scissors to snip just the very tip of a corner off to use the bag for drizzling chocolate over the cookies once the coating has set up.


  1. Yum yum cookies? Seriously... that was all I could think about as you described them...

  2. Hey Ellen, I like that! Yum Yum cookies fits my love of alliteration!

  3. Too funny - I made a similar version of these cookies over the holidays, and I also struggled with what to call them. I ended up calling them "Chinese" needles in a haystack cookies. ;-)

  4. Ladies- you've totally outdone me! Thanks to your creative minds, I'm going to co-opt the mashup phenom and call them... (see revised post title).

  5. Ha - that is too funny! I love the name.

  6. Shelley, it was nice to meet you today! And, I love these cookies. My Mom always made them (some years still does) around the holidays. I think we just called them chow mein noodle candies. Not very original. They look great with the chocolate drizzle on top.

  7. Lisa, so nice to meet you too. And good to put a face to a blog! I've been reading your's for a while now and love seeing the pics of your fabulous creations. Thanks for sharing those delicious bagels.

  8. I might be a bit late, but over here in germany this kind of cookie is called "Florentiner" .... love the blog, have just found it

  9. @Diana- Thanks for stopping by and for letting me know that the cookies are called in Germany. I think I just might adopt Florentiner!

  10. how many cookies does this recipe make

  11. @Anonymous Depends on the size of the spoon that you use to drop spoonfuls but I used a tablespoon sized spoon and made approximately 2 dozen cookies.

  12. HI,

    I know this is an old post and the comment might be lost.. yet I grew up with my mom making these in the 60's and they were called 'haystacks'. The reason they were created was the leftover butterscotch chips from the '7 layer or magic bar' recipe only called for 1/2 of the bag or 6 oz of chips and the leftover bag of semi sweet chips were combined and they always used some sort of edible wax to set the glaze of this. She always had chinese noodles and besides the thing on the market was bags of noodles or dinners that had them with it in the market.

    I guess they were creative in being a great holiday host and making sure all items were used up. So it's "Haystacks" in our house still to this day. Love em lots.

    warm hugs,
    Cotton Peony
    love ur blog too.

  13. Did you use the dry not cooked chow mien noodles? Or where do we get chow mien noodles that you used here in the U.S.A.? Thank you.

    1. Hi Elajr,
      I used the dry, uncooked noodles. I was able to find them at my local grocery store but Amazon is always a good resource if you can't find them locally.
      Thanks for stopping by!