BiteClub Press Democrat Holiday Cookie Contest

Thanks to all who submitted your recipes.

WINNER:
Spiced Butternut Squash Cookies
These defied every judgement we wanted to put on them. They’re vegan, they’re made with squash..what’s to like? But a jaded room full of reporters ended up loving these soft, cakey cookies above the rest. One editor said, “They just embody the holidays.” A combination of great spices, flavors and textures make these — and yes, even we’re surprised — our 2011 winner.

Our other favorites of the Year
– Baked Apple Oatmeal Cookies
Another huge winner in our taste tests, these incorporate cinnamon-kissed sauteed apples and candied nuts for a hearty, yummy cookie.

– Tipsy Cranberry
After macerating the cranberries (accidentally) for a week, the brandy-soaked cookies were a hit at our holiday party.

– Cinnamon Logs
Okay, I’ve been told I’m not allowed to vote for another shortbread cookie (my weakness!) but these little cinnamon shortbread bites are perfection. A close second for me: Yes We P’Cans. With big props to the Walnut Slice Cookies as well. (Biteclub’s three personal faves).

– Chocolate Peanut Butter Creams
Eyeballs went wide at these over-the-top chocolate and peanut butter cookies that are reminiscent of a whoopie pie. Lots of thumbs up on these.

And the rest (all great as well!)

– Cayenne Chocolate Coffee Cookies
– Chocolate Kiss Snowballs
– Rosemary Cardamom Pinwheels
– Death By Chocolate Chip
– Gingerbread People
– Lenguas de Gato

– Coco-nutty Crunchy Cookies

– Cherry Surprise
– Eggless Gingery Fruit Nut Bars
– Sweet Potato Squares
– Vegan Almond Lemon Cookie Recipe
– Mostaccioli
– Persimmon Cookies
– Basil Orange Italian Cookies
– Cayenne Chocolate Coffee Cookies

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Hey, my cookie wasn’t included!
Because of the number of submissions, I just can’t always cook everything. I cull through the recipes and look for cookies that are unique, that offer some sort of interesting re-arrangement of a classic, or just happen to tickle me. Some recipes I don’t test because they’re too similar to previous submissions or have a number of submissions already (I usually pick the one I think looks the best). I’m not a huge fan of recipes that include “mixes”, margarine or Crisco (unless it really works and makes sense in the recipe). Sometimes I have trouble finding ingredients or tools (I don’t happen to have a cookie press, but am getting one for next year). Other times, I simply don’t get to things. I’m sorry if you didn’t get included this year, but please try again next year!

How did you decide?
This is the least scientific method ever, but it’s probably the most fair. I put all of the cookies on my desk throughout the cookie baking process. Folks from the newsroom come taste them. I have a few ringers (my closest co-worker, George and my boss, Greg, for example tasted most of the cookies). I also consult my family (who get lots of tastes) and friends.

We sort of decide which cookies really stood out in our minds. It’s usually a pretty challenging process, but this year, the squash cookies just took us all by storm. So there you go.