Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello's Favorite Comfort Food: Rocky Road Cookies

June 15, 2020

Every December, my mother-in-law hosts a Christmas cookie party. The rules are simple: Bring a batch of homemade cookies and at least 20 copies of the recipe to share. After lunch, everyone gets a box to fill with cookies and collect recipes. This is serious business. These women have become mothers and then grandmothers around this dessert table. The number of cookies at this party has risen into the hundreds. These women whip out delicious, tried-and-true recipes passed down by their own mothers and grandmothers, while I ran out of cookie recipes within the first two years of marriage. I’m terrible in the kitchen, and I don’t eat sweets. But I am highly competitive.

Over the years, I’ve developed my own tradition. I scour the internet for cookie recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less, bonus points if that includes cook time. In early December, I narrow them down to 10 finalists, and host a “Cookie Week (or Two)” where I bring different recipes to work each day. My husband helps with the baking because he loves me, and because he loves to lick the bowl. The rules are simple: Eat as many cookies as you like, but please vote. Personal biases are taken into account. There is always a final showdown of the two favorites. This is, after all, very serious business.

This Rocky Road cookie was the 2016 winner, and remains undefeated against the winners of 2017, 2018 and 2019 as the fan favorite among my coworkers. My father-in-law sometimes asks about this cookie. My husband still dreams about this cookie. My mother-in-law still describes to her friends the toasted marshmallow glow of this cookie. Even I still remember this cookie as proof that I belong in this family.


Prep Time: 15 mins  |  Cook Time: 12 mins  |  Serves: 24


  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4cup granulated sugar
  • 3.4 ounces vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds, plus extra for topping
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, plus extra for topping
  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  3. Using a stand or electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the pudding mix, vanilla and eggs until well combined.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Add chocolate chips, almonds and walnuts and stir with a rubber spatula.
  5. Measure out dough into two large tablespoons and roll into a ball then drop onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until slightly golden and just set on the top. Pull cookies out and turn on the broiler. Top cookies with more almonds, walnuts and marshmallows. Place back in the oven until marshmallows are lightly golden on top, about 30-40 seconds. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for five minutes, then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.

Recipe found at This Grandma is Fun blog



Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello

Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello is the author of Hour of the Ox (University of Pittsburgh, 2016), winner of the 2015 AWP Donald Hall Poetry Prize and 2016 Florida Book Award bronze medal. She has received poetry fellowships from Kundiman, the Knight Foundation and the American Literary Translators Association, and her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Best Small Fictions, The New York Times and elsewhere.